Can Returning to Work Too Soon Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim?

When someone gets hurt in an auto accident or suffers another type of personal injury, it can get very expensive. Medical bills start to pile up, and missing work to recover from the injury makes things even tighter financially. If the injured person has a spouse and children and is the primary breadwinner in the household, missing an extended period of time from work can result in a financial hardship.

Facing this type of financial pressure, the desire to get back to work quickly (after suffering a personal injury) is certainly understandable. You might also be getting subtle pressure from your employer to come back, especially if they need you to make your department or the company run smoother.

Going back to work sooner than you should is not a good idea, however. In fact, you should never return to work unless and until you have clearance from your doctor. Here are a couple important reasons why that is the case:

Your Condition Could Worsen

You might feel like you are recovered enough to go back to your job, but if a doctor does not tell you it is okay to do so, there is probably a good reason for that. Your doctor knows that you need to proceed with caution, and that there might be a chance your injury will be reaggravated. If this were to happen, it could even make your condition worse than when you first got injured. This kind of setback would mean having to miss a lot more work in order to get healthy enough to return to the job.

Your Legal Claim Could be Weakened

If your injury happened because of someone else’s negligence, you should have a valid personal injury claim against the responsible party or their insurer. But if, during the midst of your claim, you decide to go back to work without being cleared by your doctor, the insurance company might use this to say that you are exaggerating the extent of your injuries and that they are not all that serious.

You might also have a problem with your claim if you re-aggravate your injuries like we talked about earlier. During an accident injury claim, an injured party has a legal obligation to mitigate their losses by getting prompt medical treatment, keeping doctor appointments, and following the advice of their doctor. If you return to the job against your doctor’s orders and your condition worsens, the insurance company might say that they are not responsible for the additional treatment you may need after getting re-injured at work.

What if the Doctor Clears Me, but I Do Not Feel Able to Go Back to Work?

Some injury victims have the opposite problem where a doctor tells them that they are fine to return to the job, but they do not feel like they are able to go back yet. In a case like this, it is best to start by speaking with your lawyer about the other options you may have. One option may be to go to another doctor and get a second opinion.

Explain your concerns and why you think it is too soon to go back to work and find out what his/her thoughts are on this. The other doctor might agree with you to hold off on work for a while, or at the very least, they might recommend various work restrictions if you do return. Be sure to fully document all of these medical visits, and if work restrictions are recommended, obtain a note from your doctor stating this, so you can give that note to your employer.

Finally, we want to point out that whatever your situation is with work, returning to work, restrictions, etc., be very careful what you say about these things on social media and in other electronic communications. Insurance companies have investigators who are very good at uncovering social media activity, and anything you say on any of these platforms could be twisted and taken out of context to undermine your claim.

The best advice is to take a break from social media for a while until you have finished with your legal claim. Or if you cannot quit cold turkey, do not post anything during this time and only use social media to keep up on what your relatives and friends are doing.

Injured in an Accident in Pennsylvania? Contact our Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or someone close to you has suffered a personal injury, it is best to speak with an attorney to discuss your legal rights and options. If your injury occurred in Pittsburgh or anywhere in Pennsylvania, Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman is here to help. Call our office today at 412-567-1232 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team. We look forward to serving you!

 

Preparing your Vehicle for Pennsylvania Winter Weather

It is that time of year again. Summer is over, the temps are getting cooler, and winter is quickly approaching here in the Northeast. Aside from the uncomfortably cold (or more accurately, bone chilling) temperatures, one of most difficult aspects of dealing with winter weather is having to drive a vehicle in it. Very few people find it enjoyable to drive on icy and snowy roadways, and when the temps drop to well below freezing, it is especially hard on batteries and a lot of people are unable to start their cars.

There is no easy fix for driving in winter weather. You are most fortunate if you have a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle, but even having all four wheels working is not enough to give you adequate traction when you hit a sheet of pure ice. The best you can do is prepare your car for winter weather and try to endure it. Or if you’re up for putting a more positive spin on things, you could even decide to embrace it 😊

Prepare your Car Now for Winter Weather

We still have a month or two (hopefully) before the snow flies, and now is the time to get prepared. Here are some important steps to get your car ready for the Northeast winter weather:

Change Your Oil and Check Your Fluids

If your car is due for an oil change or close to the due date or mileage threshold, it is a good idea to get this done as soon as possible. Many vehicles require a different grade of motor oil in the winter, and you want to make sure you have the right grade for the kind of weather you are in. Most oil change services will also include a check of your important fluids, such as your antifreeze, washer fluid, etc. And they should also check your tire pressure to make sure your tires are properly inflated.

Have your Battery Checked

As we talked about earlier, cold temperatures are especially hard on batteries. Before the winter weather hits, it is always a good idea to have your battery checked over to make sure there is no corrosion at the terminals or other issues that could be causing it to lose charge. If necessary, replace your battery before the cold weather arrives. You can probably get a new battery for less than $100, and this small investment could save you a lot of headaches during cold winter days.

Consider Getting a Set of Winter Tires

Another thing you may want to consider investing in is a set of winter tires. If you have a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle, you might not need these. But if your car is a front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel drive, then winter tires could make a big difference. Winter tires provide better traction and control and give you shorter stopping distances in snowy and icy weather.

Check your Wiper Blades

You will be using your wiper blades a lot during the winter, and you definitely do not want worn down or damaged blades that leave streaks on your windshield. Check out your wiper blades to make sure they are in good working order. If you need to replace them, they should not cost you more than $20 or so.

Get your Brakes Inspected and Serviced

You definitely do not want to go into the winter with a faulty braking system. It is difficult enough to stop on ice and snow with functional brakes, and worn out brake pads are the last thing you need to deal with. Have your brakes inspected and cleaned before winter. And of course, replace your braking system if necessary.

Get your Heating System Inspected

On cold winter days, you will need your heater to work – this is not optional. So, make sure to have your heating system inspected for any problems that need to be addressed.

Put Together Your Winter Emergency Kit

Everyone should have an emergency kit in case your car gets stalled on a cold winter day. Your kit should include a flashlight, blanket, warm clothes, a shovel, ice scraper, snow brush, and heat packs/hand warmers. You might also want to have some snacks in your car in case you get hungry while waiting for help.

Keep your Gas Tank at or Near Full

it is always recommended that you fill your gas tank every day during the winter, or at the very least, always have your tank at least half-full. When there is a lot of empty space in your tank, this can cause moisture buildup, which can dilute your fuel and severely diminish its quality and put a lot of strain on the vehicle pumps and other car parts.

Get Roadside Assistance and Keep their Phone Number Handy

Despite your best efforts, you need to be ready for the possibility that your car might break down somewhere. Before this happens, make sure you have roadside assistance. Most auto insurers offer this type of service within their policy, but their coverage is typically not as comprehensive as a service like AAA. Do your homework and find the roadside assistance service that is best for you, then put their phone number in your smartphone contact list for easy retrieval.

Drive Carefully

In addition to all of the other important preparation steps, the best piece of advice we can give you is to drive carefully. Do not drive faster than it is safe to travel under whatever conditions you are dealing with, always refrain from texting and other distracting activities while you drive, and allow plenty of distance between you and other vehicles and objects on the road.

Injured in a Winter Car Accident in Pennsylvania? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Assistance

Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman is committed to helping ensure that you and your family stay safe on the Pennsylvania roadways during the winter season and all year long. But even if you follow all the best safety practices, you cannot control what other drivers do.

If you or a loved one got injured in a vehicle accident in the winter or any other season, contact our experienced Pittsburgh auto accident attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. To get started, message us online or call our office today at 412-567-1232 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. We look forward to serving you!

Keeping your Teen Safe Behind the Wheel

If you have a teen in your house that is of driving age, you are probably wrestling with how to deal with them once they get their driver’s license. Virtually every teen looks forward to the day when they can drive by themselves without an adult in the car, but we also know that teens are less experienced, more emotional, and more prone to make poor judgments while behind the wheel.

There are number of things that parents can do to help keep their teens safe behind the wheel:

Understand the Hazards Facing Teen Drivers

As we talked about earlier, teen drivers have much more of a tendency to make critical errors in judgment that can lead to a crash. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that three of the most common causes of teen driving accidents were failure to detect and respond effectively to adverse various hazards, speeding or driving too fast for road conditions, and distracted driving. These are some of the areas that you need to focus on the most when your teen is practicing driving with their learner’s permit.

Understand the Pennsylvania Junior License Restrictions

Drivers that are under the age of 18 in Pennsylvania receive a junior’s license before graduating up to an unrestricted license. Be aware that the junior’s license requires sanctions for high risk drivers – a 90-day license suspension for any driver on a junior’s license who accumulates six or more points or is convicted of one excessive speeding violation (driving 26 mph or more over the speed limit). Junior drivers are also not allowed to drive between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM unless it is for employment or charitable work, and they may not carry more than one other passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member. After six months, this limit is increased to three non-family passengers who are under 18.

Educate your Teen and Put Them Under Contract

Before your teen ever starts driving on their own, it would be a good idea to sit down with them to discuss not only the hazards that they need to watch out for, but also go over all of the rules that they will be required to follow. These should include:

  • Having themselves and all passengers wear seatbelts at all times.
  • Driving within the speed limit and obeying all other traffic laws.
  • Never driving while intoxicated or with another intoxicated person in the vehicle.
  • Not allowing anyone else to drive the vehicle.
  • Not allowing alcohol, drugs, or weapons to be in the vehicle.
  • Never concealing any warnings or tickets received, or accidents they are involved in.

If you are looking for a template, AAA has a parent teen driving contract that you can have them review and sign. This way, your agreement will be in writing and they cannot plead ignorance later on if they break any of the rules.

Give your Teen Access to Roadside Assistance

Many insurers offer roadside assistance for a nominal fee. If you do not currently have it through your insurer, consider adding this option and give your teen the phone number to call if they ever need help with a flat tire, engine trouble, or any other vehicle problems. You might also want to consider joining a motor club (such as AAA) for more comprehensive roadside assistance services.

Use Technology to Help Keep Your Teens Safe

Although you may have thoroughly educated your teens on driver safety, you might want to go one step further and put some safeguards in place to help ensure that they will follow through with your instructions. One thing that could help a lot is using an app (of which there are many on the market) that will block them from phone calls and electronic messages while they are driving. Some of these apps can also track where your teen is driving, so you know that they are where they should be, and they can send you a notification if something is not right.

Set a Good Example for Your Teen

Finally, we know that kids imitate the behaviors of their parents far more than we even realize. With this in mind, be sure you are modeling good driving behavior. Always wear your seatbelt, put your phone away when you are driving, and follow all of the traffic laws. This will help ensure that everyone stays safe on the roadways.

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

Following the above recommendations will help keep your teen safe behind the wheel. Unfortunately, however, you cannot control the actions of other drivers on the road. If you or anyone in your family suffered injury in an auto accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Before dealing with the insurance company, contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman to discuss your case and legal options.

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

What are the Most Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse?

When we place our aging loved ones in a nursing facility, we entrust that facility to provide quality care and ensure a safe living environment. Sadly, this is not always the case. As much as we would like to believe that our loved ones are receiving the care they need, there are many nursing homes that violate our trust and expose their residents to neglect and abuse.

Abuse and neglect have been ongoing problems in America’s nursing facilities for several years. An ABC News investigation from the early 2000s found that elder abuse occurs in approximately one out of every three nursing homes in the U.S. Since then, the crisis has worsened because of aging demographics, a major shortage of healthcare workers, industry consolidation, and more for-profit facilities that prioritize their bottom line over the quality of life of their residents.

Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Here are some of the most common forms of neglect and abuse that seniors are subjected to in nursing facilities:

Nutritional Deficiencies

Many seniors are on special diets and are only able to tolerate certain types of foods. And when they do not receive proper nourishment, they are at great risk of becoming ill and even developing life-threatening conditions. Part of the problem in this area is that nursing home staff are often not properly trained and do not provide the residents with the meals they are supposed to have. Another issue is that seniors require extra time to eat, and short staffing and/or lack of patience often means that residents are not given adequate time to finish their meals.

Improper Use of Restraints

Sometimes, a nursing home resident needs to be restrained for their own safety. This could be done with physical restraints or chemical restraints (such as medications), or a combination of these. Nursing home employees who are not trained and/or have poor judgment sometimes use these restraints when they are not necessary or appropriate. This can result in very dangerous and deadly conditions; such as extreme physical pain, medication overdoses, severe medical conditions, mental health issues, and even death.

Lack of Adequate Medical Care

Because of understaffing, lack of competence, and similar issues, nursing home residents sometimes do not receive even the basic medical care they need. Some common examples of substandard medical care include failure to check on patients regularly, failure to notice obvious signs that a resident needs medical attention, medication errors (e.g., overdoses, dangerously mixing medications, administering medication to the wrong patient, etc.), and many others.

Physical Abuse

Nursing home residents may be subjected to more than just neglect. Sometimes, it turns into outright abuse. Some employees have questionable backgrounds and/or they are simply not qualified to work with the elderly. Because of their temperament and/or character issues, they physically abuse a resident when they get frustrated, or they do it just to exert their power or feel superior. Examples of physical abuse include pushing, shoving, pinching, slapping, hitting, kicking, beating, and striking with an object.

Sexual Abuse

As horrifying and sickening as it is to contemplate, sexual abuse occurs in nursing facilities far more often than most people realize. According to a 2017 CNN investigation, more than 1,000 nursing homes throughout the country have been cited in recent years for mishandling suspected cases of sexual abuse. Many of the elderly are seen as easy targets for predators, particularly those who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and are less likely to clearly remember the event. This is one of many reasons why thorough and comprehensive background checks are so crucial when nursing facilities hire employees.

Emotional/Psychological Abuse

Elderly nursing home residents are dependent on their caregivers for almost everything. This makes it very easy for wrongdoers to emotionally abuse someone who is under their care. Examples of emotional/psychological abuse include insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, and isolation. And because of the major power imbalance between the caregiver and elderly patient, nursing home residents are very reluctant to report abuse for fear of reprisal and/or fear that they will not be believed.

Has Your Loved One Been Neglected or Abused in a Nursing Home? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. for Help

With so many nursing homes not meeting even the minimum standards of care that we should rightfully expect, it is important for family members to be on the lookout for signs of nursing home neglect and abuse. If you believe that your loved one is being abused, report this to the proper authorities, and if they are in immediate danger, call 911 or the police. Next, get in touch with a seasoned nursing home abuse attorney.

At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., we are outraged when we learn that a nursing facility resident has been severely harmed through neglect or abuse, and we put our extensive experience to work to help ensure that those responsible for these egregious actions are held fully accountable. Call us today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys. You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by our Pittsburgh office in person at your convenience. We look forward to serving you!

CAROSELLI BEACHLER & COLEMAN–ADVOCATES FOR ANIMALS

Since 1972, the lawyers at Caroselli Beachler & Coleman, LLC have carried on the firm’s mission to fight for and protect the legal rights of ordinary working people, consumers and their families. Now, Caroselli Beachler & Coleman has stepped into the ring to fight for and protect the rights of innocent abused animals. In a recent case decided by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Attorneys David A. McGowan and Susan A. Meredith represented All But Furgotten, Inc., a non-profit humane society dedicated to the prevention of cruelty and suffering of all animals.

On March 16, 2018, ninety-nine animals were seized from a home in Westmoreland County.  The animals, which included 30 dogs, 67 cats, one turtle and a white tailed deer, were living in deplorable, unsanitary conditions, in a home replete with trash, urine and feces.  Many of the animals were underweight and had various respiratory and skin issues. The Costs of Care of Seized Animals Act is a little known civil statute that seeks to ensure that when abused animals are removed from their owner, the animals do not linger in a state of legal limbo while criminal charges are pending against their owner.  Generally, animals that are removed from an abusive home are placed with a county humane society or other non-profit animal shelter which bears the burden of paying for veterinarian care, food, and shelter for the animals.  The statute allows for a civil hearing to be held shortly after an animal is seized to determine if the animal’s owner should pay for veterinarian costs and sheltering costs.  Following such a hearing, if the court determines certain factors are met, the court can order the owner to pay the veterinarian and sheltering costs.   If the owner does not pay such costs within 7 days, then the owner forfeits ownership of the animals and they can be placed by the shelter with new loving and caring owners.  This not only limits the time an animal must spend in a shelter, but it limits the costs a non-profit shelter must expend to care for the seized animal.      

All But Furgotten cared for ninety some dogs and cats seized on March 16, 2018.  With the help of Westmoreland County attorney Anthony L. Rosner, Jr., All But Furgotten filed a petition pursuant to the Costs of Care of Seized Animals Act to recover the costs it had incurring caring for the seized animals. Following a hearing, the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas Judge ordered the owners of the animals to pay All But Furgotten a sum of $261,191.57, for medical care, food, water and shelter. The owners of the animals sought to delay their obligation to pay this sum and filed an appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. In addition to filing the appeal, the owners also obtained a court order from the trial judge which placed a hold on All But Furgotten’s right to adopt the animals out to new and loving homes, pending the outcome of the appeal.

Caroselli Beachler then stepped in to help. Attorneys David A. McGowan and Susan A. Meredith and their team that included Litigation Paralegal Stefan J. Heidinger, and Legal Assistant Anita DeAngelis took up All But Furgotten’s cause. Through various filings, Attorneys McGowan and Meredith stressed to the Court the importance of moving the case ahead because a prompt resolution of the case was in the best interest of the animals.  Attorney Meredith, who wrote all of the Superior Court filings and argued the case before the Court, requested the court hear the case as early as possible and issue a decision as quickly as possible.  On August 23, 2019, the Superior Court upheld the trial court’s cost order and rejected the owners of the animals’ arguments challenging the order. (See All But Furgotten Inc. v. Klochak, 2019 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3224 (Pa. Super. 2019)). The Court also overturned the trial court’s stay order.  This permitted the adoption of the animals into permanent loving homes.  

The Superior Court’s decision was a big victory for the seized animals, who had been waiting in limbo. It started with All But Furgotten’s dedicated Humane Society Police Officers and other volunteers who responded to the neighbors’ calls about the plight of the animals, and obtained a warrant to enter the property and rescue the animals from extremely cruel living conditions. The long delay caused by the owners’ appeal was stressful on the animals but all the dogs and cats are now available for adoption and anyone who is interested in rescuing and adopting an animal should contact All But Furgotten at (724) 382-7178.  All But Furgotten is a non-profit organization which relies primarily on donations and help from volunteers. If you would like to donate or volunteer to help All But Furgotten continue its mission of rescuing, caring and finding permanent loving and safe homes for neglected and unwanted animals you can do so here.

By:  David A McGowan

What can we learn from traffic safety in other countries?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collect data concerning motor vehicle crash injuries and fatalities on our highways.

Among the studies undertaken by the CDC is a comparison between vehicle crash deaths and current safety measures in the U.S. and those in other countries in response to the question, “How is the U.S. doing?”

A little background

In the 20th century, there was a major push to reduce fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents here in the U.S., and the efforts were very successful. However, the rate of vehicle crash deaths is still too high. For example, in 2013, there were over 32,000 traffic fatalities, more than double the average in comparable, high-income nations.

Reasons for more U.S. fatalities

Impaired driving; speeding; and lack of a seatbelt, car seat and booster seat use are the primary factors in U.S. traffic fatalities. Statistics show that about 90 people die in vehicle crashes every day in the U.S. This death rate is the highest of any comparison country, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Safety measures in best-performing countries

The measures that other countries find successful in preventing vehicle crash fatalities include:

  •         Enforcement of seat belt laws covering everyone in the vehicle
  •         Enforcement of car seats and booster seats for children up to age eight
  •         Installation of ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of drunk driving
  •         Improvements in vehicle safety features
  •         Wider use of publicized sobriety checkpoints
  •         Enforcing minimum drinking age

What we can do

The federal government evaluates safety programs and policies and partners with state, local and tribal authorities to provide resources and tools that aid in preventing motor vehicle injuries and deaths. We can all learn from the success other countries have had in this area. On a more personal level, drivers must be proactive in ensuring that everyone in the vehicle is properly buckled in. Drivers must also avoid the use of alcohol or drugs, obey posted speed limits and steer clear of distractions such as texting. A motor vehicle accident can alter a person’s life in mere seconds—or end it.

On behalf of Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

How does Pennsylvania’s Graduated Driver Licensing work?

Vehicle crashes involving teen drivers are sadly frequent in Pennsylvania and are a leading cause of fatalities among young people. As a parent, you may help reduce the risk of your teen being in an accident by teaching and modeling safe driving techniques. The state’s Graduated Driver Licensing program helps ensure your teen has adequate training and experience before he or she gets full legal driving privileges.

You may get information on each phase of the state’s graduated licensing program for young drivers from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. According to PennDOT, the first stage is acquiring a learner’s permit. Your teen may get his or her learner’s permit at 16 years old after passing a written test, physical exam and vision screening. During this phase, you may help your teen learn how to drive responsibly. Your teen must accrue 65 hours of supervised driving before moving on to the next licensing phase. This number includes 10 required hours of night driving and five hours in poor weather conditions.

After completing the supervised driving hours and passing a road test, your teen may acquire a junior license. This is a restricted license with certain limitations. For example, your teen may not drive at night between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., though there may be exceptions for work or volunteer service. Additionally, this license limits the number of non-family passengers your teen may have in the car when he or she is driving.

Provided there are no driving violations while your teen has a learner’s or junior license, he or she may get an unrestricted license at 18 years old. Under the state’s Zero Tolerance Law, drunk driving may result in license suspension, fines and jail time at any phase of the graduated program.

This information on Pennsylvania’s GDL program is general and intended for educational purposes; it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

On behalf of Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. posted in Drunk Driving Accidents on Thursday, August 22, 2019.