The Impact of COVID-19 on Personal Injury Cases

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our everyday life.  Some things have been put on hold or delayed.  While we continue to navigate the difficult circumstances and delays caused by precautions in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, people are continuing to suffer injuries in car accidents, in pedestrian and bicycle accidents, due to slip-and-falls, due to defective products as well as many other accidents caused by the fault of another.

Injured parties can bring personal-injury claims to seek compensation for their injuries even during the COVID-19 outbreak. After a period of closure, the Pennsylvania courts have re-opened. As part of a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, courts, insurance entities and attorneys are practicing social distancing and conducting their work by telephone, video conferences and emails.

Tips to remember if you sustain an injury due to the fault of another

COVID-19 has changed the environment for handling personal injury claims from the scene of the accident to the courtroom.  At the injury scene, it is still essential you gather information to assist with your claim, but because of social distancing and the risk of catching the virus, this is more difficult.

Fortunately, cell phones make it possible to capture details on the camera while maintaining social distancing. If you are involved in an accident and need urgent medical attention, it is important that you do not delay seeking treatment.  It may be possible to have your injuries assessed by a medical professional through a telehealth visit.

Holding a virtual consultation by videoconference with your medical professional will allow you to obtain an injury report and a treatment plan.  However, if you have been seriously injured, it is imperative that in person medical help is sought.  Although we are living in unusual times, the basics of making a successful claim for personal injury have not changed.  You should remember the following tips:

  • Document and gather as much evidence as possible at the accident scene.

Unless you need immediate medical attention, you should still try to gather the information you will need to pursue a claim when your accident happens. If you are in a car accident and do not need immediate medical attention for your injures, use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident location and the damage to the vehicles involved. Take pictures of the other driver’s contact information and insurance details or write this information down.

If there are witnesses to the accident or people who stopped to help, have them provide you with their names and phone numbers via a text message or email.  Gathering this type of information is not just important for automobile accidents, but also when you suffer injuries from a slip or trip-and-fall, a pedestrian or bicycle accident, motorcycle accident, or due to a defective product.

  • Seek medical attention quickly.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be hesitant to go to the emergency room or seek treatment from a healthcare professional. Failing to seek treatment could have a long-term impact on your health. When you seek treatment, you should keep a list of the medical facilities and medical providers you have seen and the treatment that has being recommended. While you might have gone to an Emergency Room for an acute injury your PCP may be able to see you the same day due there being less urgent appointments any given day for a doctor’s office due to Pandemic.

  • Discuss your case with an experienced lawyer.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to assess the impact of your injury on your life and work.  He or she will be able to investigate all sources of potential recovery to compensate you for the injuries you have sustained.  Retaining an experienced lawyer will ensure that your case is presented in the best possible way and that you obtain full value for your claim.

  • Do not delay in pursuing your claim.

It is still important to not delay seeking legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney if you sustain an injury due to the fault of another.  Delaying a consultation with an attorney can have a detrimental effect on the outcome of your case.

The dedicated and experienced attorneys at Caroselli Beachler & Coleman are committed to helping you with your personal injury claim during these trying times.  The personal injury attorneys at Caroselli Beachler & Coleman are available conduct a virtual consultation to discuss your claim over the phone, by a video-based call or by email.  We are committed to complying with all state guidelines and taking precautionary steps to protect our clients and our staff.

COVID-19 and the restrictions that are currently in place due to this pandemic should not affect your right to claim compensation for personal injuries which may be an integral part of maintaining your financial stability during these uncertain times.  The attorneys at Caroselli Beachler & Coleman are committed to working with you to obtain a successful outcome. Contact our firm today at (866) 466-5789 or through our website contact form.

Pittsburgh Attorney Kelly Enders Discusses Legal Concerns with COVID-19 Reopenings

Although all counties in Pennsylvania are currently under the green stage of reopening phases, Governor Wolf, on July 15, 2020, imposed additional restrictions on bars and restaurants and has requested that businesses require workers to telework unless it is impossible to do so. For those that cannot telework, returning to the workplace may create an increased risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

If you are someone who has returned to the workplace you may have questions about what might happened if you need to take time away from work due to COVID-19. Are there benefits available if you have to miss time from work because you contracted COVID-19? If you believe you contracted COVID-19 at your workplace, can you make a claim for workers’ compensation? Will you be eligible for any benefits if you miss time from work to care for a relative who has COVID-19 or because you need to stay home to look after a minor child whose school or daycare is closed? These are all important concerns for individuals as they return to work.

There are certain programs in place already to help workers who have to miss time from work due to COVID-19.  These include:

Family First Coronavirus Response Act

Under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), most employers with 500 or less employees must provide 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees sick or quarantined due to COVID-19. The FFCRA provides:

  • full pay for sick or quarantined employees for 80 hours;
  • 2/3 pay if caring for another;
  • paid sick leave is capped at $511.00 per day, and $5,110.00 total per employee;
  • sick leave caps at $200.00 per day and a total of $2000.00 per employee when leave is taken to care for a family member in quarantine or to care for child while that child’s school or daycare is closed.

The benefits will only be payable if the employee:

  • is subject to a government quarantine or isolation order;
  • has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine;
  • has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • is caring for a relative who is quarantined or in isolation; or
  • is unable to work because his/her child’s school or childcare is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.

An additional 10 weeks of paid family medical leave at two thirds (2/3) of the employee’s regular pay can be available if the employee cannot work because his/her minor child’s school or childcare is closed due to COVID-19 precautions.  To be eligible for this benefit, the employee must have been on the payroll for 30 days.  An employee who was laid off after March 1, 2020 but returns to work is eligible for the emergency family leave under the FFCRA without having to again meet the 30 days requirement after returning to work. The benefit is paid at 66% of the regular earnings but is capped at $200.00/day and $12,000.00 total.

Sick leave benefits are available until December 31, 2020.

 Unemployment Benefits

If you use your 80 hours in sick leave and do not qualify for the emergency family leave then you can apply for assistance under coronavirus unemployment laws.  Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA), employees will receive a minimum benefit that is equal to one half (1/2) of their state’s averaged weekly unemployment benefits.  They will also be able to receive an additional six hundred dollars ($600.00) a week until the week ending July 26, 2020 through the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) part of the law.  The U.S. Congress is currently working another package that will replace the PUC part of the law.

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation

Employees who contracted COVID-19 on the job would also have the ability to file a Workers’ Compensation claim because the workers’ compensation system provides medical treatment and wage loss benefits for employees who suffer a work-related injury or disease.  A work-related COVID-19 injury could be regarded as a traumatic injury or as an occupational disease under Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act.

There are steps that a worker will need to take in order to seek workers’ compensation benefits if exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace.  The employee must notify the employer to file an injury claim and that will require the employee to provide medical evidence that they were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace.  Potentially employees who contract COVID-19 in the workplace could file an occupational disease claim which would require the employee to establish that COVID-19 is occurring more in his/her occupation and industry than in the general population.

The Pennsylvania Legislature has passed laws which provide automatic entitlement to benefits for law enforcement officers diagnosed and quarantined due to COVID-19 regardless of the source of the COVID-19 infection.  The Legislature has also considered creating a presumption of a work-related hazard for employees in life sustaining businesses and occupations such those in the medical field, restaurant industry and retail fields.  To date this legislation has not been enacted into law.

Talk to a Knowledgeable Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

Kelly Enders is an attorney at Caroselli Beachler & Coleman, and she is available to discuss and assist employees who are faced with workplace injuries due to COVID-19.  An initial consultation can occur over the phone or by a video-call. We have decades of experience handling routine and complex work-related injury and disease cases. Contact one of our experienced Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation attorneys at (866) 466-5789 or through our website contact form.

How Will a Personal Injury Settlement Impact my Social Security Benefits?

It is difficult enough to have a debilitating injury in which you cannot work or only do limited work. Getting Social Security disability benefits helps, but the approval process is complicated and frustrating, and there are countless hoops that you have to jump through in order to start receiving benefits. On top of all this, getting injured in an accident adds another layer of complexity to the situation.

If the accident was someone else’s fault, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. The problem of course is – you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the disability benefits that you went through so much trouble to get approved for in the first place. A large monetary award to compensate you for your injuries is nice, but you depend on your Social Security disability benefits to make ends meet.

If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who also has in-depth knowledge of the Social Security disability program. Not every personal injury lawyer out there handles disability claims, you need to work with someone that thoroughly understands both of these areas of the law and how the two intersect in cases like yours.

Will I Lose my Social Security Disability Benefits if I Recover a Personal Injury Settlement?

As with most legal questions, the answer always starts with – it depends on the unique circumstances of your case. With this question specifically, it depends largely on which program you are receiving your Social Security benefits under; SSDI or SSI.

If you are receiving benefits through the regular Social Security Disability insurance program (SSDI), then your personal injury settlement will generally not affect your benefits – even if you receive a large amount. There are a couple side issues that you should be aware of, however, which we will cover shortly.

If you are receiving benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, then it is possible that your benefits could be jeopardized by a personal injury settlement. There are some things you can do to address this issue, however, which we will also cover in a little while.

Personal Injury Settlements and SSDI

SSDI (or sometimes referred to as SSD) benefits are funded through the Social Security Trust Fund, and eligibility is determined based on the number of work credits that the disabled person has accumulated. If you have a qualifying disability and you have worked the required length of time and paid into the program through taxes, then you will qualify for benefits. Therefore, receiving a large monetary award does not impact your eligibility.

Now, there are a couple separate issues that you should be aware of as you prepare to pursue a personal injury claim. First of all, your settlement award will probably not be as much as a lot of people with the same type of injury as you because you are not working or only doing a limited amount of work. Those who are working full-time when they get injured can usually collect compensation for lost wages and lost future earning capacity, but these damages may not be available in your case if you were receiving SSDI benefits when the accident occurred.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the defendant (in your personal injury case) is likely to bring up the fact that you have a pre-existing health condition (the one you are collecting benefits for) as a way of undermining your claim. They might try to argue that your injuries would not have been as bad if you did not already have a health condition, which could result in a lower award.

To effectively address this possibility, be sure to seek immediate medical attention after your accident, keep all of your subsequent appointments, and follow the advice of your doctor and attorney. As long as you got treated for your injuries right away and fully document everything, you should be able to minimize the effectiveness of the defendant’s argument.

Personal Injury Settlements and SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a separate program that is funded by general tax revenues rather than through Social Security taxes. This is a needs-based program in which qualification does not depend on work credits, but rather on the income and assets of the recipient.

If you were to receive a fairly significant personal injury settlement, it could put you over the asset threshold that is necessary to qualify for SSI benefits. This could mean the suspension of your benefits, which would be catastrophic.

It is unfair to have to choose between receiving the full and fair compensation you deserve for an injury you sustained through no fault of your own and receiving the monthly benefits you need to survive. But unfortunately, this is how the program is set up.

Thankfully, there are some ways to protect your SSI benefits and still receive your personal injury settlement. One possibility is to do a “spend down”, which means spending enough of the settlement funds on exempt resources and that the items purchased are solely for the benefit of the disabled recipient to put you back under the allowable threshold.

You could use the funds to pay off your home mortgage, make modifications to your home to help accommodate your disabilities, pay off your existing debts, or a number of other things. The problem of course is that once you have spent the money, you no longer have it available for future emergencies and other important expenses that may come up.

Another possibility is to set up a special needs trust (SNT). With this option, the proceeds from the settlement are placed directly into the trust without affecting your SSI benefits. The funds within the trust can be used for expenditures that are not covered by SSI, such as transportation, certain therapies, and nursing care.

Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Further Help with Social Security Benefits and Personal Injury Claims

If you are receiving Social Security benefits and you got hurt through no fault of your own, you should not have to choose between keeping your benefits and obtaining the just compensation you deserve. At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, we understand the dilemma you are facing, and we are here to help you successfully navigate the complexities of these two areas of the law.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. We look forward to serving you!

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

A wrongful death is one that was preventable and results from the negligent, reckless, or unlawful actions or omissions of another person or entity. There are a number of different types of accidents or events in which a wrongful death may occur, such as motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, swimming pool accidents, and many others. When someone loses a loved one in an untimely death that was caused by another party, they may be able to file a lawsuit against the responsible party for monetary damages.

Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Laws

The state of Pennsylvania defines wrongful death as a death that is “caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another” (Title 42, Chapter 83 of the Pennsylvania General Statutes, Section 8301). It is important to note that a wrongful death may or may not result from a criminal act, and a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that is completely separate from any criminal charge that may result from the act that caused the death.

A criminal charge is brought by the state if they believe there is enough evidence to convict, and the penalties typically include fines and jail time, and in some cases (such as a fatal DUI accident), the loss of driving privileges. Although a surviving family member may feel some sense of satisfaction and closure if the person responsible for their loved one’s death is convicted, a criminal conviction does nothing to compensate the surviving loved ones for the deep loss that they have suffered. Monetary compensation must be recovered through a wrongful death civil lawsuit.

Although no amount of money can ever make up for the loss of someone close to you, the best legal remedy the system can provide is a monetary damage award. Damages can be recovered for losses suffered by survivors because of their loved one’s death, such as the loss of comfort, care, guidance, and support that the decedent provided as well as the emotional and psychological loss that family members suffered after losing someone close to them.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action in Pennsylvania?

A wrongful death claim is filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the decedent’s beneficiaries. If the personal representative does not bring the lawsuit within six months after the decedent’s death, then a claim can be filed by any of the beneficiaries on behalf of all beneficiaries.

Pennsylvania law specifies that only spouses, children, and parents of the decedent can qualify as beneficiaries. The allocation of damage proceeds is determined by the state’s intestacy law, which is generally as follows:

  • When there is a surviving spouse and surviving children, the spouse receives the first $30,000 in proceeds, and the remaining amount is split evenly between the spouse and the children.
  • If there are surviving children of the decedent one or more of whom are not issue of the surviving spouse, one-half of the intestate estate to the children and one-half to the surviving spouse.
  • When there are no surviving children and a surviving spouse, then the remaining proceeds (after the first 30,000) are split evenly between the spouse and the surviving parent(s).
  • When there is no surviving spouse, then the proceeds are split evenly among the surviving children. If there is no surviving spouse or surviving children, then all of the proceeds go to the surviving parent(s).
  • If an individual dies without any surviving spouse, children, or parents, then no wrongful death claim can be brought on their behalf in Pennsylvania.

Wrongful Death Actions vs. Survival Actions in Pennsylvania

A survival action is one that is brought separately from a wrongful death claim, and in many cases, the two are brought simultaneously. A survival action is a slightly different type of legal action, and it can only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.

While a wrongful death claim deals with the losses that have been suffered by surviving family members, a survival claim deals more with the losses that the decedent would have personally sustained had he/she survived the accident or event that caused their death.

The best way to look at a survival action is as a personal injury claim in which the decedent’s estate is standing in the shoes of the decedent. The damages recoverable from a survival claim will be for losses such as medical expenses (to treat the injuries or illness that led to the death while the decedent was still alive), past and future lost earnings, and the decedent’s pain and suffering.

The decedent’s estate is the sole beneficiary of the proceeds from a survival action, and they pass through probate like the rest of the estate. If the decedent died with a will, the proceeds are used to cover any final expenses, then the remaining amount is distributed according to the terms and conditions of the will. In the absence of a will, remaining proceeds (after final expenses are covered) are distributed according to Pennsylvania intestacy laws.

Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you lost someone close to you and the death was the fault of another party, you may have a valid wrongful death claim. At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, we offer our condolences for your loss, and we understand that this was a very tough time for you. We would also caution, however, not to wait too long before addressing the legal aspects of your loved one’s death. Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations of two years from the date of death to file wrongful death and survival claims, and the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to gather the important facts and pieces of evidence necessary to substantiate your claim.

At your earliest convenience, we invite you to contact our office for a free, no obligation consultation. We will meet with you (either in person or remotely depending on what you are comfortable with in the midst of COVID-19) to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options. This way, you can make the most informed decision on whether or not you should bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of your deceased loved one.

Message us online or call our office today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 to schedule your complimentary consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!

How Social Media Use Can Impact Your Personal Injury Claim

In today’s world, social media has become a large part of our everyday life. Before even thinking twice, it is commonplace to let family, friends, and even strangers know what is going on in your corner of the world through status updates, photos, videos, and tweets.

But if you have been injured in an accident and are pursuing a personal injury claim, social media can pose some hidden dangers. It might be tempting to share the details of a car accident, slip and fall, or other traumatic event on social media, but doing so could have negative consequences for your case. There are also other ways that using social platforms can impact your ability to recover compensation for your injuries.

How Social Media Can Mess Up Your Claim

Let us say you were involved in an accident with a large truck and sustained a back and neck injury. You decide to pursue a personal injury claim against both the truck driver and the trucking company since your injuries require medical treatment, and you are unable to work.

You are determined to get better and decide to see how much this injury has limited your movement by heading over to the gym. You post about your efforts on social media and even give everyone another update later when you go out to dinner with your family.

Even if your injuries and pain are legitimate, and you are unable to work, your social media updates tend to contradict this and could undermine your claim. An insurance company will use any evidence it can get its hands on to downplay your injuries and even allege outright fraud.

Many personal injury cases are challenging enough without the injury victim giving the defendant justification to deny a claim or offer much less than your case is worth. In short, social media can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

Why You Should Not Share on Social Media

When you file an injury claim, the primary objective of the insurance company and defense attorney is to diminish your claim as much as possible so they can limit the defendant’s liability. These parties, therefore, will look for any and all evidence that either proves the accident did not happen as you claim or that your injuries are not severe enough to justify a fair settlement.

Even though you believe your social media posts are meant to update friends and family, they might be used as evidence against you. A large part of many personal injury cases is non-economic damages for things like pain and suffering and mental anguish. It will be difficult to justify these damages if you are posting updates on social media of yourself socializing with friends and family, even if you were in physical and emotional pain at the time.

Even when you believe you are being cautious, you might still post something that can be used against you. Check-ins, photos that you take, and comments from friends and family all have the potential to contradict your claim and undermine the efforts of your legal team.

Who Can See Your Social Media Activity?

Every social media platform allows you to control who sees your activity through its privacy settings. Often, these settings are difficult to access, and many people are unaware that they have the option to make such adjustments.

Even if you do not have an active personal injury case, it is simply a good practice to lock down your privacy settings to protect your personal information. Why do you want people you do not know looking at your photos and status updates?

When you adjust your settings, be sure to turn off access to your content to anyone that is not a connection. Likewise, you can disallow “friends” from sharing your content. But even this will not prevent someone from taking a screenshot of your content and reposting it or forwarding it to someone else if they felt compelled to do so.

It is vital to remember that even adjusting your privacy settings on social media will not necessarily protect what you post from people who are interested. The best plan of action is to simply not post anything that can be used to undermine your case.

Tips on Social Media Use When Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim

To protect your rights and get the best outcome possible for your personal injury case, we recommend that clients follow these social media guidelines:

  • Avoid posting about your case – at all – and ask friends and family not to post about your accident or injury as well.
  • Limit all activity on social media until your personal injury case has been resolved.
  • If you must post on social media, review the content thoroughly before doing so, and consider the potential consequences.
  • Before using social media, check your privacy settings to make sure that no one outside of your direct connections can see your activity.
  • Avoid accepting new friend requests or adding new connections while your case is ongoing. It is certainly possible that someone from the insurance company, defense counsel’s firm, or a person connected with the defendant will try to gain access to your information.
  • Avoid posting any frustrations about your case on social media.

Your personal injury attorney’s job is to build the strongest case possible so that you can get the compensation you deserve after a serious accident. Unfortunately, posting on social media is rarely going to help your case.

Call an Experienced Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Firm

The best way to prevent insurance companies from using information against you is to keep the details of your personal life private. Avoid speaking with anyone about your accident. Do not share information or allow family or friends to discuss your life on social media. Insurance companies are known for trying to convince accident victims that they are not injured or that someone else is responsible.

The seasoned personal injury attorneys at Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman understand the tactics that insurers use to avoid paying what they owe, including attempting to collect information on social media. We will put our extensive experience and knowledge to work on your behalf to fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today at 412-391-9860, toll-free at 866-466-5789, or message us online to schedule a free case evaluation.

What Is a Personal Injury Journal and Why Should I Start One After a Truck Accident?

If you have been injured in a truck accident, you are going to need strong evidence to prove your case as well as the extent of your damages. You may be entitled to economic damages, such as medical treatment and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Proving just about anything related to a truck accident can be challenging because these cases can be complex and contentious. Unlike car accident cases, several different parties can be held responsible for a truck accident, and you are likely to meet resistance from the insurance companies at every turn.

One of the tools you can use to strengthen your truck accident case is a personal injury journal. Here is what you need to know about personal injury journals and how they can help your case.

What is a Personal Injury Journal?

A personal injury journal is your firsthand account of the difficulties and pain you have experienced after being involved in an accident with a commercial truck. It should accurately reflect the issues that have arisen in your life following the accident, as well as the pain and suffering you continue to endure.

Your injury journal can be typed or handwritten. The content of your journal should remain private and not shared with anyone but your accident attorney, who can help you decide what you should include to strengthen your case.

How Can a Personal Injury Journal Help Your Truck Accident Case?

Even if an accident and the resulting injuries are fresh in your mind, memories fade with time. Further, it can be difficult to convey a concept like pain and suffering without some type of evidence.

A personal injury journal is your record, in your own words, of what happened during the accident and throughout your recovery process. It is also a way to contextualize your non-economic damages like emotional distress, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.

What to Include in Your Personal Injury Journal

There are many areas you should cover in your personal injury journal that may help with your truck accident case. The contents of your journal should include:

Details About Your Accident

One of the first entries you should make is your recollection of the truck accident. The details you might want to mention include:

  • The condition of the roads and weather
  • Any hazards that remember being present
  • The time of day the accident occurred
  • The location where the accident occurred
  • The names of any witnesses and their contact information
  • The responsible party’s actions during the crash
  • The agency and name of any responding officers

 

Pain and Discomfort You Experience

Following your accident, you should document the pain and discomfort you experience daily. This should include a description of the pain, a level (rate it from 1 to 10), the frequency of the pain, and its location. Avoid the temptation to exaggerate your pain levels, but instead, keep a running journal of what you are experiencing.

How Your Life Has Been Impacted

One of the most important things you can document regularly is how your life has been affected by the accident and your injuries. This can help you prove non-economic damages. Some examples are listing the ways your injuries have:

  • Prevented you from caring for loved ones;
  • Made everyday tasks difficult or impossible;
  • Limited your mobility;
  • Prevented you from attending events;
  • Stopped you from enjoying and participating in pastimes and hobbies; and
  • Created a burden for your loved ones.

Time You Missed from Work

If you have missed time from work, you should note this in your journal as well as list the amount of your lost wages.

Appointments and Travel Related to Your Injury

When you are seriously injured, attending medical appointments can seem like a new full-time job. To claim fair compensation for your travel expenses and burden, make sure you list every appointment you attend and document the distance it takes to get there.

The Type of Medical Care You Receive

Insurance companies can request medical records, but you should keep independent documentation of the medical treatment you receive after a truck accident. In your journal, list every appointment, including the date and the type of treatment you received. You can also make some notes about how you’ve responded to treatment. Finally, list any co-payments our out-of-pocket costs that you are asked to pay for prescriptions, medical equipment, or appointments.

How Often Should You Write in Your Personal Injury Journal?

Immediately following the accident, your injuries are likely the most severe, and you are probably dealing with a lot of pain and suffering. During this time, you might wish to make frequent journal entries, as often as once per day. As time progresses, it may not be necessary to post this frequently, but you should still write an entry at least once per week. Your attorney can give you additional guidance on a recommended schedule.

Why Your Journal May Not Stay Private

It’s important to note that, unlike your teenage diary or another type of personal journal, your personal injury journal may not stay private. Since the document contains your recollection of the accident and other relevant medical details, it could be used as evidence by either side if your case goes to trial.

This fact shouldn’t prevent you from keeping a journal. But, you should always have experienced legal counsel in your corner that will protect your interests.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Speak with a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another party, keeping a personal injury journal is just one of the things you should do. Others include getting the medical care you need and speaking with an experienced truck accident attorney.

At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, we have over two decades of experience helping the victims of serious accidents throughout the Pittsburgh area. Our skilled legal team will evaluate your situation and advise you of the legal options available to recover maximum compensation.

Contact our office today at 412-391-9860, toll-free at 866-466-5789, or message us online to schedule a free case evaluation.

Can You Collect Workers’ Comp if You Contract COVID-19 as a Hospital Worker?

People seek treatment at hospitals when they are in need of medical care for an injury, illness, or other serious condition. As an employee, you have the right to expect that a hospital is a safe work environment. But, what about in the middle of a global pandemic?

In the best of times, hospitals can be breeding grounds for germs and infections. The Centers for Disease Control reports that roughly 1 in 648,000 people in the U.S. develop infections in hospitals annually, leading to about 75,000 deaths.

But what if you work for a hospital and contract the virus? If you have contracted COVID-19 at a hospital, you may be able to collect workers’ comp, and our experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys will be happy to review your case.

COVID-19 in Hospitals

The coronavirus was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Jan. 30 and named “COVID-19” on Feb. 11. Not everyone trusts this information, but it’s there for those who do.

According to the CDC, there are higher rates of hospitalization with COVID-19 among older adults. Unfortunately, the CDC also reports that the virus can be transmitted to others while a person is presymptomatic or asymptomatic, meaning they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 but don’t feel sick.

Lawsuits by Hospital Employees Who Contract COVID-19

If you are a hospital employee that has tested positive for COVID-19, you likely won’t have a personal injury claim. But, you do have the right to claim benefits under workers’ compensation. Even so, you may face an uphill battle collecting the benefits you need and deserve.

Some employers might allege that you were just as likely to contract the virus in your ordinary activities as you were at work. This will be a tough argument for many to win if recommended safety protocols weren’t followed, or healthcare staff didn’t have access to the right kind of PPE to keep them and others free from harm.

Workplace injuries are not uncommon in a healthcare setting, but COVID-19 has made going to work each day particularly hazardous. If you’ve been infected with this virus, our knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys would be happy to explain your rights under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

Speak with an Experienced Pittsburgh Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has contracted COVID-19 in a hospital, you may have the right to pursue legal action against the facility. While some patients recover quickly from this virus, there is still much we don’t know about it, and it can be deadly for many who are infected.

At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, we have been protecting the rights of the injured and their loved ones for over two decades. Whether you contracted this virus as a patient or an employee, our seasoned accident attorneys can protect your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Contact our office today at 412-391-9860, toll-free at 866-466-5789, or message us online to schedule a free case evaluation. Our office is following social distancing guidelines but remains available to provide the high level of service our clients expect.

Tips for Avoiding a Pedestrian Accident

Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. The weather is getting warmer, and there are a lot more people out walking. Pedestrian traffic has also increased sharply because of COVID-19 and the “stay-at-home” orders that were put in place as a result. This is especially true in local neighborhoods, where many families have made a regular practice of going out for walks in order to get exercise and fresh air.

Vehicle traffic has gone down during the coronavirus incident, but this does not necessarily mean the roads are safer. Lighter traffic can make it easier for cars to move faster and exceed the speed limit, which increases the likelihood of an accident.

Pedestrian crashes are some of the deadliest accidents that occur on the roadways. Someone who is struck by a vehicle when they are walking can sustain serious and catastrophic injuries.

Approximately 6,000 pedestrians are killed in traffic-related accidents each year, accounting for roughly 16% of all traffic fatalities. And younger children and the elderly are most vulnerable to severe or fatal injuries when they are hit by a car.

We must all do our part to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents. Here are some tips for both pedestrians and drivers:

For Pedestrians

  • Be Visible: Do everything you can to make sure you are seen by motorists who are driving nearby. If you are walking at night, wear reflective or lightly colored clothing. If you are walking during the day, wear clothing that is brightly colored. Try to walk in areas where there is plenty of lighting, and whenever possible, try to make eye contact with vehicle drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Be Alert: Be continually aware of your surroundings and watch out for vehicles, especially when you are crossing the road. Limit your cell phone use and stay focused on where you are walking, and if you are listening to music, keep the volume at a level that allows you to hear vehicles and other sounds nearby.
  • Be Predictable: Know and understand the traffic laws for the area you are walking and follow them. If there is a sidewalk available, walk there instead of on the side of the road. If there is no sidewalk and you must walk on the road, stay as far to the right as you can. Cross the road only at designated crosswalks and other places where it is legal to do so and avoid illegal crossings.
  • Be Sober: Approximately half of all pedestrian crashes involve alcohol, and in about one-third of these cases, it is the pedestrian who is intoxicated. Alcohol does not mix well with walking or driving, so stay safe by staying sober before you walk.

For Drivers

  • Get Plenty of Rest Before Driving: Driving while drowsy or fatigued is a dangerous practice that is more common than most people realize. Make sure to have plenty of rest before you drive your vehicle – for the average adult, this ideally means getting about seven hours of sleep the night before you drive.
  • Drive Safely: Follow all of the traffic laws and do not drive in an aggressive or reckless manner.
  • Stay Focused on The Road: Texting and other types of electronic messaging are prohibited while you are driving. Refrain from this type of activity, and if you must make a phone call, make sure your phone is in “hands-free” mode.
  • Stay Sober: As we talked about earlier, alcohol plays a role in about half of all pedestrian accidents. In two-thirds of those cases, it is the driver who is intoxicated. Drinking and driving is a criminal offense, and it is not acceptable under any circumstances. If you have been drinking, call a cab or Uber, but do not get behind the wheel.
  • Be Aware of Pedestrians: As we enter the warmest months of the year, drivers need to be continually on the lookout for pedestrians. Pay particular attention to your own neighborhoods especially as there are still many people staying at home while we are trying to come out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Assistance

If you or someone close to you was injured in a pedestrian accident, Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman is here to help. We are doing many of our consultations and other tasks remotely these days as we continue to follow social distancing guidelines, but our office remains fully operational and ready to serve your needs.

For a free consultation with a member of our legal team, message us 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. We look forward to serving you!

COVID-19 – Related Changes in Trucking Regulations Could Result in More Truck Accidents

The coronavirus has caused numerous businesses to close, but in industries that are considered “essential”, demand has skyrocketed. This is particularly true with groceries (toilet paper and hand sanitizer in particular), medical supplies, the raw materials needed to manufacture these supplies, and many others. The need to transport essential goods throughout the country has also placed a major demand on the nation’s truck drivers.

With the increased need for goods and materials, truckers are under immense pressure to deliver their loads on time. The federal government has responded by temporarily easing many of the long-standing trucking regulations that are designed to make the industry safer.

Here are some of the recent changes that have happened:

Hours of Service Regulations Lifted for Some Truckers

Since the 1930s, Hours of Service regulations have been in place to protect American truck drivers from driving too long without a break. In an unprecedented move that has never been done in the 80+ years since these regulations were enacted, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) eliminated many of these protections for truckers that transport essential goods.

Normally, truckers are only allowed to drive for 11 hours within a 14-hour period before they must take 10 hours off duty. They are also prohibited from working more than 70 hours in an eight-day period. Now, truckers that bring essential goods and supplies can exceed 11 hours of consecutive driving and they can exceed 70 hours of work over eight days, although they are still required to take 10 hours off after delivering their loads.

Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance International Road Check Postponed

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) normally conducts a 3-day blitz inspection of commercial trucks in the US and Canada each year. Tens of thousands of vehicles are usually checked to uncover safety problems with the vehicles and issues with drivers. This year, the CVSA postponed their international road check, which was scheduled for May 5-7, until further notice.

Truck Driver Trainees Can Operate without a CDL

In an effort to prevent a shortage of truckers and keep the supply chains moving, the government is allowing new truck drivers to operate a vehicle without a commercial driver’s license (CDL). There are a couple requirements that must be met, however. The driver in training must have already passed their CDL driving test, and there must also be a CDL-holding driver in the truck with them. This still puts a lot of new and inexperienced truck drivers on the roadways during this time.

The Dangers of Truck Accidents During COVID-19

The government lifting regulations on the trucking industry may have been done with good intentions (i.e., to keep our supply chain going), but it has created a more dangerous situation for motorists. Even during normal times, truckers are under great pressure from trucking companies that impose unrealistic deadlines. But at least these drivers had Hours of Service regulations in place to protect them. With these regulations temporarily lifted for some drivers, there is very little to stop companies from forcing their employees to work for far longer than it is safe to do.

When a truck driver is on the road for too long, there is an increased risk of getting tired or sleepy behind the wheel. To help cope with the situation, some drivers turn to alcohol or other substances to take the edge off. But this only makes the situation worse, because we all know that chemical impairment generally results in the reduced ability to focus and poorer driving decisions.

Another potential problem that is caused by the rush to deliver goods and supplies is speeding and aggressive/reckless driving. Knowing that the government wants truckers to do anything they can to keep our supply chain moving, drivers are more likely to feel justified in exceeding the speed limit and cutting whatever other corners they can. Although this behavior may not be explicitly encouraged, the implication is that it is acceptable because of the extraordinary situation we are dealing with.

All of these factors have heightened the risk of trucking accidents – this is one of the countless unintended consequences of our response to COVID-19. And sadly, these accidents often result in severe and catastrophic injuries and fatalities. We hope that as our country emerges from this pandemic, the trucking industry regulations that have been loosened will be put back into place. If this does not happen, the roadways will be less safe going forward.

Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Assistance

If you or someone close to you suffered injury in a trucking accident was caused by another party, you deserve to be fully compensated. Truck accident cases are typically very complicated, however, and there are numerous potential contributing factors and several parties that could be responsible. For this reason, it is very important to work with an attorney who has extensive experience with these types of cases.

At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, we have successfully represented countless individuals who have been injured in truck accidents, and we are not intimidated by large trucking companies and their vast resources. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call us today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. We look forward to serving you!

 

 

Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits if I Test Positive for COVID-19?

The coronavirus has impacted every area of society. More than 1.5 million Americans have tested positive to COVID-19. Even though many of those tests have been shown to be false information, many citizens have died from the virus, and many others have become ill.

One area where a lot of people have questions with COVID-19 is regarding workers’ compensation claims. For those whose work requires them to interact with other employees and/or the public, there is a risk of exposure to the coronavirus during the course of their job. And since the virus is highly infectious and we do not have a vaccine or proven treatment for it yet, testing positive would mean having to miss work for at least a few weeks, but more likely longer as it can take months in some cases to recover.

Many individuals who test positive for the coronavirus wonder if they are eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits for the time they are required to miss from work. The best short answer we can give to that question is “maybe”.

If the coronavirus is caused by work exposure, it should be considered a workplace injury, and for some workers (such as those who work in healthcare), it could even be considered an occupational disease. That said, a worker who contracted the illness might have difficulty getting approved for benefits, because an employer may claim that they did not contract the virus at work.

This is an emerging area of workers’ compensation law, and as such, not everyone is on the same page with regards to how the law applies to COVID-19 cases. An employee is supposed to receive workers’ comp benefits if they suffer an illness or injury that arises out of their employment or occurs during the course of their employment. But how does an employee show that their exposure to the coronavirus happened at work?

Without a national contact tracing infrastructure in place, proving that an employee contracted COVID-19 from their job can be a major challenge, and approvals and denials are likely to vary widely depending on the circumstances of each case. For workers in some industries, such as first responders and other healthcare workers, there is likely to be more of a presumption that the illness is work-related. The same would probably hold true in workplaces where there are major outbreaks, such as nursing homes/assisted living centers and meat packing plants.

Some states have stepped in to provide additional guidance on COVID-19 related workers’ comp claims. For example, the governor of California recently enacted an executive order mandating that workers’ compensation “presumptively applies” when an employee worked at an employer’s place of business within 14 days of testing positive or being diagnosed with the coronavirus. An employer can dispute the presumption, but the burden of proof would be on the employer to show that the illness was not work-related.

As more and more businesses begin to reopen, contracting the coronavirus at work might be a concern for many returning workers. Proper workplace safety measures will be all the more important to prevent outbreaks in newly opened facilities and establishments. These may include daily employee temperature checks, wearing masks and gloves, regular use of sanitizer, frequently disinfecting surfaces, 6-foot or more distances between workstations, the use of plexiglass to separate employees from customers, and other appropriate measures.

What Should I Do if I Contracted COVID-19 and I Believe it is Work-Related?

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 on the job or have been diagnosed with the condition, you should report your illness to your manager/supervisor. From there, the employer is required to report the illness to their insurance company.

In the meantime, follow your doctor’s orders, and speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Even during normal times, many workers’ comp claims are wrongly denied; and with coronavirus-related claims, there is even more uncertainty about whether or not your claim will be approved. By working with a skilled and knowledgeable attorney from the start, you have a much better chance of getting your benefits approved without having to go through denials, appeals, and all the red tape that is associated with that process.

Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Help with Workers Compensation Claims

If you need any type of assistance with workers’ comp claims, Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman is here for you. We are taking all the precautions and following all of the appropriate safety protocols as our state and nation continues to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, but we remain fully operational and ready to serve your needs.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. We look forward to serving you!