COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

We urge anyone who was involved in this accident to contact our office immediately to protect your rights. Having a good car accident attorney on your side is essential to making sure your medical bills, lost wages, and any other damages are covered.

Recently, there was a major crash on Interstate 81 near Minersville, Pennsylvania. According to the police, 80 vehicles were involved in the crash — 39 commercial and 41 passenger vehicles. Six people were killed in the crash. Twenty-four people were injured and then later taken to local hospitals.

The pile-up began around 10:30 a.m. as a snow squall — an intense short-lived burst of heavy snowfall that leads to a quick reduction in visibilities and is often accompanied by gusty winds— blinded drivers, which led to the severe crash and pileup.  Three tractor trailers caught fire and at least two other small fires were reported.

Project-Cheer-300x200

For three consecutive years, O’Connor Law has been honored to participate in donating to Project Cheer. Last year, Project Cheer was able to help 6 local families, including 13 children. The families were invited to a holiday celebration, including the chance to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The photo above was taken at this year’s holiday party.

Project Cheer is a local project that aims to bring cheer, happiness, and assistance to families during the holiday season. Created in 2018, the project has expanded from originally helping one family to multiple families. Businesses or groups in the community can also support a family and donate items, such as gifts or holiday meals. Project Cheer accepts donations for a variety of items, including children’s toys, canned food, and monetary donations. Companies, businesses, families, and members of the community are welcome to donate to Project Cheer.

For more information about Project Cheer or to learn more about how you can help, email goprojectcheer@gmail.com or check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/projectcheer.

There are numerous benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney. When individuals are injured and unable to manage their claims by themselves or are in need of additional assistance, attorneys will be able to help. At O’Connor Law, we have personal injury attorneys that have years of expertise in the practice area. To receive a free consultation of your case, call our office at 800-518-4LAW to talk to one of our personal injury attorneys.

Knowledge about Legal Laws and Processes

Filing an application and claim is a very extensive process that requires specific information. This can be a difficult task for people to conduct by themselves while recovering from injuries. Personal injury attorneys specialize in this type of practice area and can help clients receive the benefits that they deserve. With years of experience, our attorneys have gained expert knowledge of numerous types of personal injury cases. From statues of limitations to medical examinations, attorneys will make sure that applicants provide sufficient information that is required to receive benefits efficiently.

There have been recent developments in the news regarding product liability and mass tort lawsuits. Mass tort litigation cases arise when a large number of people report having injuries or illnesses from a dangerous or defective product. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) sleep apnea machines by Phillips Respironics have been recalled after many reports of injuries. Millions of people have been affected by this dangerous product and are looking to receive compensation from their injuries and for medical expenses.

Phillips Respironics has recalled multiple products as a result of the same cause, including CPAP, BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure), and ventilator machines. Philips Respironics stated that the CPAP apnea machine was intended to “send a constant flow of airway pressure to your throat so that the airway stays open during sleep, which was intended to treat spontaneous pauses in breath associated with sleep apnea”. However, there have been reports of a foam deconstructing into tiny pieces or becoming a contaminated vapor that could be inhaled by users. If this were to occur, numerous and potentially severe health complications can arise.

The recall is due to a component in the machine called a polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam. As stated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the foam was intended to reduce noise and vibrations that may come from the machine. Instead of helping and benefiting users, the foam has caused people to develop severe medical symptoms that can detrimentally affect their health. As quoted by the U.S. Food and Drug Association, potential risks of the degradation of PE-PUR foam may include “irritation to the skin, eye, and respiratory tract, inflammatory response, dizziness, headache, asthma, hypersensitivity, and toxic and carcinogenic effects”. In severe circumstances, degradation and exposure to the PE-PUR foam may have the potential to be linked to developing cancer or lung diseases. Researchers are still looking into the severe effects.

In the summer, many vehicles will be on the roads for long travels. During the summer season, auto accidents and injuries can become prevalent. In addition to accidents, drivers and passengers can also experience health issues. Before driving during in the summer, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers that can occur.

With many cars, tractor-trailers, motorcycles, and public transportation systems traveling, there is an increased chance of any auto accident occurring, including rear-end collisions. Since many people go on vacations during the summer, there are also drivers who have been on the road for long period of time. Accidents are more likely to occur when there are many vehicles driving on congested roads. Statistically, there are also more inexperienced drivers on the road during this time, and they do not have years of experience with heavy traffic and auto accidents. As a result, they can have the potential of being involved in an accident if they are not aware of their surroundings.

Tire accidents are common to occur in summer. In fact, the summer season is sometimes referred to as “tire blowout season”. When temperatures are high, roads can become extremely hot. It is not unusual in the summer for tractor-trailers and other vehicles to have tire blowouts, which occur as a result of low tire pressure. Tire tread separation can also cause tire blowouts. In addition to tire blowouts, temperatures can also affect the performances of vehicles. In most cases, it can cause vehicles to use more fuel to operate. To support your car’s engine during the summer months, it is recommended to stay updated on oil changes and other safety precautions. If these factors are not maintained, vehicles can experience internal damages.

In June, the Office of Unemployment Compensation from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry will implement a new Unemployment Compensation system. The primary initiative of this system is to allow applicants to navigate the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s website easier and to complete filing for benefits more efficiently. As a result, people will be able to file claims quickly and have more time and energy to concentrate on applying for new jobs. Unemployment Compensation has been able to provide compensation payments for decades. After around 40 years of using the same system, the Department has decided to implement new changes to better suit people’s needs.

In addition to making the process of filing for weekly and biweekly claims easier, the system will also provide new features. For example, individuals will be able to access a dashboard and message professionals directly using a chat program on the website. The Office of Unemployment Compensation lists that participants will also have the capability to file a new claim, access information about claims, check the status of claims, and the ability to change options on how they can receive communication services and to withhold federal income tax. The Office also states that employers could view information as it becomes available, receive faster response times, and have expert communication about information changes. The current unemployment system sends certain information, such as hearing dates, to individuals on paper through the postal service. With the new system, people will be able to view their notifications and updates online.

The Office of Unemployment Compensation claims that the new program will transition Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Extended Benefits, Shared Work or Short-Time Compensation, and Trade Readjustment Allowances. Since the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is provided by the CARES Act, it is considered a separate program and will remain unaffected by the change.

During the winter months, Pennsylvania receives large amounts of snow that usually last for a long period of time. Ice typically follows after snow, which causes roads to be extremely dangerous for drivers. The Federal Highway Administration states that more than 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes during snow and ice conditions annually. The chance of causing or being involved in a winter auto accident increases as weather conditions become more severe.

AccuWeather states that there are three common accidents that can occur in the winter, including spin out collisions, rear end crashes, and lane drifting accidents. Icy conditions can potentially cause drivers to lose control and drift off the road or in the opposite lane of traffic. Spin out collisions are very dangerous and any slight movements of the wheel can make the problem worse. It is recommended for drivers to turn the wheel in the direction that they are spinning. Black ice is a transparent layer of ice on roads and paved areas, which is especially dangerous while driving. It is difficult for drivers to see black ice and can potentially cause an accident. In fact, icy roads are one of the top common winter auto accident contributors. In extreme weather conditions, drivers can lose control and crash off the road or into other cars.

Once cars start to slide on ice, they can also slide into other people and cause a rear end crash. Cars should keep a safe distance between each other, especially when driving in the winter. Generally, staying two to three car-lengths away from the car in front is a safe distance. Driving through a snowstorm or blizzard also has many problems. In this occasion, it can be very hard to see the lines on the road. As a result, lane departures can be common. Following tracks made by previous cars can be an easy solution to prevent moving into another lane.

An organization that protects safe and healthy work conditions for employees in the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has failed its mission in a meat packaging plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Three workers have filed a lawsuit in a federal court against the agency claiming that they have caused the plant to become dangerous and potentially fatal to all the employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. The organization was created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970. The primary goal of OSHA is to protect employees by observing and verifying that working conditions are updated and safe to work in. However, the government foundation was unsuccessful at ensuring secure environments at a meat packaging franchise. Maid-Rite Specialty Foods is a frozen food manufacturer that produces meat products, such as chicken, pork, turkey, beef, and veal. Recently, their plant in Scranton has experienced an influx of attention, due to its questionable practices.

In July, three meatpacking workers decided to file a lawsuit against OSHA for unsafe working conditions after they failed to respond to the incident previously. The employees stated that the company has produced an “imminent danger” throughout the plant by inadequately implementing codes and procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Originally filed in May, the suit states that Maid-Rite did not supply workers with appropriate equipment and failed to implement social distancing guidelines. In response, Maid-Rite reported to OSHA that they are not able to maintain a 6 feet distance between workers on the production lines, but they have provided workers with masks, given them staggered breaks, and performed deep cleanings of the plant. As a result, OSHA closed the case. Since then, one person who spoke out against the manufacturer claims that they did not separate sick workers in the plant, and people failed to tell the company that they were infected. In addition, the employee claimed that Maid-Rite provided workers with an incentive to work by providing bonuses to people who did not miss a day of work. According to public health officials, this decision encourages people to work when they are potentially sick. All the evidence described has led workers to go to a federal court in order to receive changes in their current working conditions.

Famous auto insurance giants are being sued by policyholders for providing insufficient financial relief to motorists during the pandemic. Among those accused include: Allstate, Geico, Progressive, Erie Insurance, American Family Insurance, and The Travelers Company. These well-known insurers are currently facing major allegations by Illinois residents for their inappropriate rebates to financially unstable clients.

During the height of the pandemic, companies issued policies for their employees to work remotely from home. As stated in the lawsuits, miles driven by motorists dropped by almost two-thirds during the spring. In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that the rate of unemployment rose to 14.7% in April 2020. Previously, the rate was 10.3%, which they claim is the highest rate increase in the history of their data records. At this time, the statistics from the United States Department of Labor show that the number of people who were unemployed increased from 15.9 million to 23.1 million. Also, the governor of Illinois, J. B. Pritzker, announced that residents should stay at home to reduce exposure to COVID-19. As a result, people did not have to use their vehicles as often as they previously did.

However, insurance companies did not reduce premiums or rates during the pandemic. Now, multiple lawsuits are emerging against the insurers. In an Illinois Cook County Circuit Court, people protested that high rates have greatly affected their financial status. Although some of the alleged insurers offered some support to customers, it was not a significant amount that would cause the policyholders to drop the case. Clients state that a community State Farm offered its customers a 25% credit during March 20 to May 31 of this year. In contrast, a local Allstate in Northbrook offered a 15% credit for April, May, and June. Consequentially, the lawsuits accuse the companies responsible to be in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. The legislation protects consumers, borrowers, and business workers against fraud or deceptive actions in trade or business activities. As stated in the lawsuits, the clients expect that as long as the disease continues to spread, the abnormal amount of rebates will pursue.

Popular ridesharing companies are currently facing extreme criticism for an undefined classification of their employees and for providing inadequate wages. People claim that Uber and Lyft are deliberately labeling drivers as “independent contractors” instead of employees. An Independent Contractor status means Uber and Lyft to not need to reimburse drivers for expenses such as mileage and car maintenance, nor are they required to pay drivers minimum wage, unemployment, and sick pay benefits, which as employees they would legally receive.

Uber Technologies, Inc. (Uber) is an American multi-purposeful company that has become a worldwide phenomenon since it was founded in 2009. According to Uber, there are currently 900,000 Uber drivers in the United States, and it is projected that there are about 3 million drivers throughout the world. Uber has announced that there are 75 million riders worldwide, and the company has completed 6.9 billion trips in 2019. Primarily located in the United States and Canada, Lyft, Inc. is another carpooling service that is similar to Uber. With over 1.4 million drivers, Lyft continues to expand its accessibility to clients in both countries. The two establishments employ drivers to offer a variety of services, including delivering food and providing rides for transportation. In fact, a majority of Uber drivers also work for Lyft. As the businesses continue to grow, the debate over the companies’ employee policies becomes more imminent.

The major lawsuits are predominantly occurring in California, where both companies are headquartered in San Francisco. In May, a lawsuit concerning the misclassification of drivers was opened. As a result of the case, a judge has allowed Uber and Lyft to change their classification of drivers as a preliminary injunction. If the companies fail to response to this decision, the judge will prohibit the terminology of drivers as independent employees. As stated by law in California, ridesharing establishments are required to announce their drivers as official employees. Following the previous and current lawsuits, California has updated strict and specific laws for people to be independent contractors. Since then, other numerous lawsuits have surfaced. California’s Labor Commissioner declared that the businesses are being charged for alleged wage theft. Also, they have been accused of not providing certain benefits for their workers that are mandatory under state law. Under the misinterpretation of drivers as independent contractors, they were not required to provide benefits. Now that the term is being viewed incorrectly, Uber and Lyft will have to compensate for the financial losses.

Contact Information