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Pittsburgh Wrongful Death Law Blog

The most life-threatening occupation in Pennsylvania

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reported 163 Pennsylvania employees died as a result of workplace injuries in 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary report recorded 4,383 fatalities nationwide. Reasons for those deaths were similar at national and state levels.

The majority of all deaths – 41 percent nationwide, 39 percent in our state -- occurred in transportation accidents. Twenty-one percent of Pennsylvania on-the-job fatalities were linked to employee contact with equipment or objects. Fatal slips, trips and falls were responsible for 14 percent.

Wrongful death claim alleges Pennsylvania paramedics were inept

First-responders can be lifesavers for Allegheny County patients. Like other medical professionals, paramedics must be licensed and well-trained to perform their duties. You don't have time to check credentials, when a family member is suffering from a dangerous health condition.

Paramedics must act correctly and quickly. Any delays or errors can cost a life. A recently-filed Pennsylvania lawsuit alleges the incompetence of two Philadelphia paramedics contributed to the wrongful death of an asthmatic in 2012.

Awareness helps but doesn't prevent all defective product harm

Pro-active consumers can track safety information about products through a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Pittsburgh consumers also may report product injuries or risks of injuries through saferproducts.gov. The public has access to complaints, manufacturers' responses and recall information.

Realistically, even the most cautious consumer wouldn't have the time to run safety checks before every product purchase. Consequently, Pennsylvanians are forced to trust product manufacturers or at least, laws that regulate how products are made. Awareness of an unsafe product often happens when you or someone you love experiences a close call or injury.

Asbestos claims reach into the past for present-day justice

Cigarettes are sold and smoked in Pennsylvania, despite clear ties between tobacco use and deadly diseases. The hazards of asbestos exposure are also widely known, but many Allegheny County consumers purchase products containing asbestos, which is known to cause life-threatening cancers. The mineral fiber is a superior insulator and heat resistor, perfect for industrial applications but highly dangerous to health.

Asbestos found its way into shipbuilding, construction materials, household products and vehicles – around 3,000 different products, according to The Mesothelioma Center. Manufacturers were unwilling to end their love affair with asbestos, even after companies learned the fiber sickened and killed workers in contact with it. By the 1960s, evidence of asbestos' connection to cancer was undeniable.

Pennsylvania worker’s fatal leukemia tied to benzene exposure

The American Cancer Society and other national and international research organizations define benzene as a carcinogen. The chemical is present in gasoline, cigarette smoke and a multitude of other, everyday products. Benzene has been linked to blood cell cancers, with the highest risk of illnesses among victims with exposure to the chemical at work.

The estate of an independent contractor named a petroleum manufacturer and refiner in a negligence lawsuit. The contractor worked for a decade at refineries in Pennsylvania and a neighboring state, before the laborer was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. The negligence lawsuit was filed five months after the 2012 diagnosis and after the cancer victim's death, was pursued by the refinery worker's estate.

Pennsylvania workers: Safer, but not as safe as they could be

The risks of dying from an on-the-job accident or illness before 1970 were more than 80 percent greater in the U.S. than they are today. That was the year the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted. While the present work environment is markedly better than in the past for Pittsburgh workers, there is plenty of room for safety improvements.

An AFL-CIO report showed Pennsylvania's rate of at-work deaths was the same in 2012 as the national average of 3.4 fatalities for every 100,000 employees. States' workplace death rates swung wildly from a high of more than 17.7 fatalities to a low of 1.4 deaths per 100,000 employees. More than 4,600 workers died in job accidents nationwide in 2012, with another 50,000 deaths attributed to work-related diseases.

School blamed for Pennsylvania asthmatic student's death

Teachers are entrusted with the safety of one, a few or dozens of children. Pennsylvania schools are responsible for administering medications to students who, under state and federal guidelines, are prohibited from carrying drugs with them during the school day. For some students, medication is a lifeline.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed recently against the School District of Philadelphia, an academy, the principal and a teacher. There was no nurse on duty at the W.C. Bryant Promise Academy when a 12-year-old girl reported having trouble breathing last September. School rules required a nurse to monitor the use of student prescription drugs, including an inhaler the girl used to control asthma.

Third plaintiff may join wrongful death action over jet crash

Fault in motor vehicle accident cases sometimes is not isolated to the drivers involved. A third party may be guilty of negligence. Several individuals or entities, including or instead of a vehicle operator, might be named as defendants in Pittsburgh personal injury or wrongful death claims.

Seven people, including a prominent Pennsylvania businessman, died in a fiery private jet crash in May. Bloomberg reported 72-year-old Lewis Katz, a one-time pro sports teams' owner, was killed days after taking control of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Katz and three friends, along with two pilots and a flight attendant, were taking off from a New England airport, following a party, when the fatal accident occurred.

Court upholds asbestos claim over smoker's lung cancer death

Causes for injuries or deaths aren't as straightforward as they sometimes appear to be. Asbestos exposure and tobacco use are both linked to lung cancer. Chances of getting lung cancer skyrocket when a person exposed to asbestos is a smoker.

Pittsburgh residents are well aware smoking alone is a cancer risk. The federal Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported smokers were up to 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers. Add in exposure to asbestos and the risk of lung cancer among smokers increases 50 to 84 times.

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.

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