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Pittsburgh Wrongful Death Law Blog

Who are the unsuspecting victims of asbestos-related diseases?

You may picture victims of on-the-job respiratory illnesses surrounded by clouds of toxic dust day after day, year after year. That mental image represents the setting for some sickened workers but is not representative of all victims of asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos injuries have been reported by employees in a surprising number of other occupations.

Almost everyone in Pittsburgh breathes or ingests asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral, although the rate of exposure differs from person to person. People working with asbestos products, particularly over long periods, are at a higher risk of developing serious or deadly health problems, like mesothelioma, than people with casual exposure.

The 3 defects in Pittsburgh products liability cases

Products that do not live up to reasonable expectations are defective. A sofa isn't defective because the material used to cover it failed to prevent your dog from chewing up the cushions. Unless the manufacturer guaranteed shred-proof furniture, the sofa is not a defective or unsafe product for failing to withstand an "unreasonable" canine attack.

Product makers may be liable for one of three types of harmful defects. A defective product can be "born bad" by faulty design or may be manufactured improperly, even when a design is fault-free. The third type is a marketing defect with faults in labeling, warnings, instructions or advertising claims -- false promises and harmful omissions included.

Poor contract work may have led to Pennsylvania well blast

Pennsylvania environmental officials recently released a report about the cause of a gas well explosion south of Pittsburgh in February. The blast and subsequent five-day fire at the Dunkard, Greene County, well site claimed the life of a field service technician. State investigators still don't know what triggered the blast, but feel human mistakes created the circumstances that led to it.

The well owner is a Chevron Corp. subsidiary, Chevron Appalachia LLC, which so far, has not been fined by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for the accident. Chevron Appalachia was named in a June wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of the 27-year-old man who died in the explosion. The state DEP believes an unsupervised, untrained worker's error was the likely cause for a well gas leak.

Fatal work explosion blamed on Pennsylvania parts factory

Allegheny County residents with work-related injuries are covered by insurance Pennsylvania laws require employers to carry. Workers' compensation benefits pay for injury-related medical costs and replace victims' lost income. Families of employees also receive benefits, following the immediate or delayed death of a worker in the course of employment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited a Pennsylvania factory, where a Mersen USA research and development director died. A blast in a work oven claimed the 52-year-old visiting executive's life in late January. Two others were injured, including a 58-year-old production manager at the St. Mary's electrical parts factory, north of Pittsburgh.

Wrongful death case disputes cause of Pennsylvania teen’s death

Drivers who have caused accidents involving serious injuries or deaths sometimes escape criminal charges. Civil court decisions are not dependent upon criminal cases. Allegheny County personal injury and wrongful death claims are assessed based on proof of a defendant's negligence or recklessness.

A Pennsylvania teen died in 2010 after a swimming class at a Bethlehem high school. The 15-year-old male student told his gym teacher he didn't know how to swim and was feeling ill. There is some dispute over what the teacher said next.

Lipitor case consolidation drives up product liability interests

Lipitor has outsold every cholesterol management drug and every other prescription medication in the 18 years since the drug's introduction. Two years ago, officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that statins, including Lipitor, had been associated with cases of memory loss and slightly elevated risks of diabetes.

Over 29 million Pittsburgh residents and other Americans have been prescribed Lipitor. According to a 2011 Forbes report, Lipitor's annual sales outstripped the nation's sales of movie tickets. Worldwide sales of Lipitor since 1996 have topped $130 billion.

Calculating damage awards in Pennsylvania wrongful death cases

How do Pittsburgh juries determine what compensation to award in an accident liability lawsuit? A jury award is equivalent to economic and non-economic losses suffered by victims or victims' families. Punitive damages sometimes are added as punishment for a defendant's outrageously bad behavior, although punitive damages typically are not awarded in wrongful death actions.

The personal representative of an estate – sometimes known as an administrator or executor -- or a decedent's surviving spouse, children or parents initiate Pennsylvania wrongful death cases. Defendants are parties accused of negligent, reckless or intentional behavior that caused or contributed to a person's death. Wrongful death damages reflect losses to survivors, not to the decedent.

Pennsylvania manufacturers' liability for failure to warn

Workers' compensation insurance covers medical costs and wage losses for Pittsburgh employees injured on the job. Many Allegheny County residents may be unaware that under certain circumstances, injured workers can recover compensation beyond an employers' insurance. Third parties, like manufacturers of defective products used in a workplace, may be held accountable for harm.

A miner in a nearby state was injured while operating a roof bolter drill. The worker suffered facial injuries in June 2012, when the tool broke while the worker was using it. A products liability lawsuit claimed the man's employer, the mine owner and the companies that made and rebuilt the drill were negligent.

Metal plant where 3 died in dust blast moved to Pennsylvania

A blast at a metal recycling plant 33 miles west of Pittsburgh killed three employees, including a pair of brothers. A recently-released U.S. Chemical Safety Board report stated more than a half dozen fires and two other fatal explosions occurred at AL Solutions prior to the 2010 workers' deaths. CSB officials said company and government officials could have prevented the accident.

Investigators believe the latest explosion was touched off by a faulty metal milling blender. The report said the company performed slapdash repairs but never properly repaired or replaced the defective machine parts after learning the blades kept striking the sides of the blender. The CSB thinks metal friction sparked a zirconium blast.

Pennsylvania wrongful death claim filed over demolition accident

The time period a Pittsburgh victim suffers following an accident can be crucial to a liability lawsuit. Judgments in Pittsburgh fatal accident claims are based in part on the pain and suffering an injured victim endured before death. Survival actions request compensation for the victim's losses, while wrongful death lawsuits concentrate on the losses of surviving family members.

A wall collapsed during a June 2013 demolition project in Philadelphia, causing the immediate deaths of half a dozen people. Fourteen people were hurt when a wall in the building under demolition fell on top of an adjacent Salvation Army store. One victim was a 59-year-old man, shopping in the thrift store at the time of the accident.

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