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Pennsylvania and Ohio Injury Law Blog

Brain metabolism a predictor of capacity to recover

Historically, it has been difficult for even doctors to predict to what degree patients who had suffered severe head trauma would be able to recover consciousness. Now, however, researchers have determined that the rate at which an injured person's brain consumes glucose (metabolism) can predict if that person will regain consciousness within the years. The study's findings could help inform the prognosis of brain injury patients in the context of personal injury law suits, making it easier for doctors and lawyers to predict with more accuracy the future medical needs and costs of a patient who is may be unable to communicate after an accident. 

In short, the researchers discovered that brain-injured patients who achieved a threshold level of glucose metabolism in the brain during recovery had a better chance at regaining consciousness within a year than those patients who failed to meet the metabolic threshold. 

OSHA to make workplace injury records public

Beginning July 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the United States Department of Labor will require employers to provide information about injuries and illnesses that their workers have suffered on the job. Employers will have to provide this information in electronic form, and OSHA will then post it to a public database so that anyone can look up the safety records of a particular employer. Historically, employers have been required to log information about accidents and injuries that occur at their work sites, but this information did not have to be shared. 

By making these records public, OSHA hopes to prevent some of the millions of work-related injuries that occur in the United States every year, as well as some of the thousands of work-related deaths. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3 million workers were injured on the job, and more than 4,500 were killed in work-related accidents in 2014, the latest year for which data is available. 

Dallas Hartman and Doug Olcott recognized as two of the top 100 Lawyers in Pennsylvania

We are proud to announce that Attorney Dallas W. Hartman and Attorney Douglas J. Olcott, senior litigator, have been bestowed the distinguished honor of the exclusive Top 100 Super Lawyers Pennsylvania, Top 50 Super Lawyers Pittsburgh and the top 5% of attorneys in Pennsylvania.

HB853: Daniel's Law hits PA House floor on Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Daniel's Law, written by PA House Representative Jaret Gibbons, is up for a vote on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. If passed, House Bill 853 will amend Title 75 (Vehicles) and Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses), and enforce enhanced penalties for those convicted of causing injury for death due to distracted driving. Currently, the law only applies to texting while driving and serves no all-cell-phone-use ban, which complicates enforcement, according to Pennsylvania police.

Dallas W. Hartman, PC to be presenting sponsor for 2016 New Castle Relay For Life

We are very excited to be the presenting sponsor for this the 2016 New Castle Relay for Life at Shenango High School on Saturday. To celebrate our partnership, we are having our first #DallasHelps photo contest. Participants can submit a photo from the Relay For Life labeled #DallasHelps or from a past Relay For Life labeled with #DallasHelps for a chance to win one of two $100 AmEx gift cards. Visit www.dallashelps.com to participate.

Distraction blamed for Philadelphia Amtrak crash

The 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that killed 8 people and injured almost 200 others is now thought to have been caused by distraction on the part of the conductor. An investigation has found that the conductor, Brandon Bostian, had been listening to radio transmissions about another train's windshield having been hit by a rock right before the derailment happened.

According to the investigation, Bostian's distraction caused him to lose track of his location on the route. At the time of the accident, he had believed himself to be in a straightaway where conductors often accelerate to more than 100 miles per hour, when in fact he had been about to enter a curve where the speed limit was 50 miles per hour. The train had been moving at 106 miles per hour when it derailed on the Northeast Regional route. 

Scientists explain the physical pain caused by grief

"Heartache","hurt" and "pain" are words often used to describe emotional trauma, but people affected by grief often say they experience actual physical sensations after losing a loved one. A study at Imperial College suggests that physical pain might be the body's defense mechanism for shock and grief. The surge of adrenaline that often accompanies a loss can be pretty intense and go unacknowledged by the sufferer, therefore, the body protects the heart. This condition is also aptly named "Broken Heart Syndrome" and is said to affect 100 million people each year.

Some states move to reduce workers' compensation benefits

In 2006, Ohio passed a law that reduced the amount of time injured workers could collect workers' compensation from 4 years to 1 year. The reduction applies to cases in which workers are no longer physically compromised, but nevertheless are unable to find work that matches their skills. 

The Ohio law is one of several reforms some states have taken in recent years that limit workers' rights to compensation. According to a ProPublica investigation, some of the other ways states have limited worker benefits include: 

  • Setting more restrictive time limits on wage replacement benefits
  • Restricting workers' ability to see doctors of their choosing
  • Increasingly relying on pre-existing conditions to deny claims

Domestic abuse can cause traumatic brain injury

Being in combat, football collisions and motorcycle crashes are by now well-known causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Because of this, often the face of traumatic brain injuries is one of a man. But researchers are giving more attention to brain injury in survivors of domestic abuse. These survivors, in large part, are women, but not always. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe violence at the hands of an intimate partner. That violence may include beatings or being slammed against something hard, like a wall or the floor. It's not hard to imagine how such violence could lead to a brain injury. 

Traumatic brain injury in domestic abuse victims hasn't gotten as much press as it has in the case of, say, football players. As a result, research into the effects of domestic violence on head trauma in survivors is not yet robust. By one estimate, if doctors were to keep track of TBI caused by domestic abuse, this could result in nearly 20 million women alone being diagnosed every year. 

Does your personality put you at risk for distracted driving?

Distracted driving is a major problem on the road, killing thousands of people each year and injuring hundreds of thousands of others. Distracted driving behaviors include anything that takes your attention away from the road while you're driving. Texting and using a cell phone in other ways is one of the main culprits behind distracted driving. Now, a new study suggests that certain personality traits may predispose some to engage in distracted driving.

The study required 120 drivers to take a personality test and complete a questionnaire about their distracted driving behaviors. The drivers were divided into two groups that traditionally have higher rates of distracted driving: teens and older adults. 

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