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Erie, PA Legal Blog

Social Security Disability denied: what is my next step?

According to studies, one in four workers will experience a disability that prevents them from working by the time they reach retirement. While disabilities may not be uncommon for workers, the process for applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be extremely frustrating and time consuming.

SSDI applications have a notoriously high rejection rate. Well over half of qualified SSDI claims are denied the first time. However, just because your application gets denied does not mean that you have no hope of receiving benefits or that you need to start the process from scratch.

CVSA to increase traffic law enforcement July 14 to 20

From July 14 to 20, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will have law enforcement officials across Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S. looking out for unsafe drivers. This period of increased enforcement is called Operation Safe Driver Week, and it is an annual event. Both passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle drivers are liable to be stopped and issued a warning or citation.

Police will be looking for negligent behavior like seat belt neglect, improper lane changes, calling and texting behind the wheel, and ignoring traffic control devices. They will also check for signs of drug- and alcohol-impaired driving. Above all, though, they will be stopping speeders.

Truckers distrust safety tech, find ways to manipulate it

Truck fleet owners in Pennsylvania and across the US are adding new safety tech to their vehicles, but this in itself is not enough. Many truckers are actually disabling or manipulating the devices, perhaps out of distrust for the technology or a desire to act recklessly without anyone knowing it. They have learned many methods through YouTube videos.

Truckers can learn how to disable the steering-wheel sensor, unplug the speakers and cut the wires to the in-cab camera. They may slide a business card behind the camera so that it does not record their actions. They may push in the lane departure warning switch and stick paper down into it. They may tamper with the radar by lining the covering with aluminum foil.

Falls cause almost half of all traumatic brain injuries

The brain performs a variety of functions. It regulates life-sustaining activities, manages physical movements, remembers language skills, solves problems and allows creativity. Because our brains do so many things, it can be life-altering if someone's brain becomes injured.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually occurs when someone receives a forceful blow to the head. It can also be caused when there is a sudden change in velocity or when an object penetrates the skull. Because each injury is unique in type, severity and location, TBIs often cause different problems for different people.

Falls, overexertion common causes of workplace injuries

Pennsylvania workers could be at risk of a serious injury accident. Some types of workplace incidents are more common than others. Liberty Mutual tracked some of the most frequent ones. The most common cause was overexertion, causing $13.11 billion in medical bills and other costs. The second most common cause was a fall on the same level, while the third most frequent way people were hurt at work was by being struck by equipment or another object.

Falling to a lower level, roadway incidents and motor vehicle accidents and slip or trip injuries were some of the other most common workplace accidents. Repetitive motion can always lead to serious injuries, as can being compressed between objects or struck against equipment. In total, the top 10 most disabling workplace accidents and injuries cost $46.93 billion each year. The study also examined the most common problems in specific industries. For example, construction workers were most likely to suffer severe injuries after falling to a lower level, and next most likely to be struck by an object. On the other hand, professional services workers were most likely to fall on the same level.

Nurses' health can benefit from a fair workplace

For nurses in Pennsylvania and across the country, a fairer, more supportive working environment can also help to reduce workplace injuries. This was the finding of a study completed by researchers at Michigan State University and Portland State University, who noted that when nurses perceive that they receive less support than they give, they are also more likely to suffer workplace injuries. The types of support measured by the study varied greatly and included access to guidance and advice, help with their workload or simple expressions of care or empathy.

The physical demands of nursing already put many nurses at risk for physical injuries or accidents on the job. Nurses may have to move heavy patients or equipment from beds to wheelchairs or from one place to another. In addition, they often work long, 12-hour shifts that are particularly demanding. Therefore, they are already in danger of workplace injuries related to muscle or joint pains and strains in the shoulders, arms, hands and lower back. According to researchers, muscular and skeletal injuries can be exacerbated by angry feelings, such as those people experience when they perceive that they are being treated unfairly at work.

Asphalt plant accident highlights workplace safety failures

When workers in Pennsylvania operate asphalt plants, they may be at risk of catastrophic workplace accidents and injuries. In one case, a serious incident was caused by a fire and explosion that took place after diesel was used to clean the asphalt tank. In this case, a man opened a valve to allow a 55-gallon drum of diesel fuel and began the cleaning process.

After the cleaning began, the plant operator started the asphalt pump but saw a puff of smoke and then a severe explosion. The explosion engulfed the man spraying diesel in flames; it likely would have been fatal if not for a water truck making the rounds and directing a stream of water at the injured man on the ground and extinguishing the blaze. The man who had been spraying diesel was severely burned throughout his body, and while he survived, the workplace injury ended his career; he received disability for the rest of his life.

Study links distracted driving fatality rates with cellphone laws

ValuePenguin has calculated the distracted driving fatality rates of all 50 states for the years 2015 to 2017, and its conclusions should be of interest to Pennsylvania residents. Analysts found that the states with higher fatality rates tended to have less far-reaching laws regarding cellphone use.

Thirteen states were determined to have the most far-reaching laws, and these experienced nearly 30 percent fewer fatalities than the rest of the nation. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., completely ban handheld devices among drivers; these had fatality rates that were 44 percent lower than those states only partial bans or no bans at all.

Stopping carbon monoxide exposure at work

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminder has been issued to employers in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country to protect workers from the effects of being exposed to carbon monoxide. This is in reaction to a number of incidents that emphasize the need to instruct workers and employers about the carbon monoxide exposure dangers caused by the use of portable generators and other tools inside of enclosed areas.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is odorless and colorless, and workers and employers should be able to recognize the indications of being overexposed. Typical carbon monoxide overexposure symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, tightness across the chest, headaches, drowsiness and vomiting. People who suffer from severe overexposure of the gas can experience neurological damage, become comatose or die.

The data on large truck accidents in the United States

Drivers in Pennsylvania may be interested in learning about how their state compares to others when it comes to fatal accidents involving large trucks. A recent report was released that shows that from 2009 to 2017 there was an increase in the United States in the number of big rig truck accidents that led to fatalities. During that time, 35,882 people died in accidents involving large trucks.

It is thought that some of these deaths could have been avoided if the law required big rig trucks to have speed-limiting technology as well as automatic emergency braking technology. Interestingly, between 2009 and 2016, truckers drove fewer miles on the road than they did in previous years. Still, the number of accidents and the number of fatal accidents increased.

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Erie, PA 16502

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