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New Social Media Case Law May Influence Your Legal Claim

In case you were not aware, please know that anything you post on social media may be admissible in court.  According to a recent technology-focused website, there have been two recent court cases in the United States that have changed the way that we may use social media as court evidence in the future.  One such case in Florida, Nucci vs. Target Corp., found that social media posts and photographs are considered relevant and admissible evidence.  Another case in Louisiana, Crowe vs. Marquette Transportation Co. Gulf-Inland LCC, stated that "Crowe's efforts to avoid producing this material (his Facebook page) have unnecessarily delayed these proceedings and have wasted the time of his opponent and this Court.".    Both cases involved personal injury litigation.  

Social media use has many implications for clients pursuing a personal injury claim.  Similar to applying for a job or being an employee within a company, your social media activity is not as private or as protected as you may think.  For example, an innocent picture of you enjoying a short walk after your accident may be misconstrued as a full and complete recovery.  Additionally, posts/comments from friends suggesting that you're healthier than you really are may come across as you being insincere about your injury as well.  Social media may become dangerous for a case when certain pictures or comments are taken out of context and may be used against you.  For this reason, if you are hesitant about posting a picture or writing a comment that you feel may be used against your case, use discretion and do not post that item.  It may be even be better to not discuss your injury, and especially your legal claim, over Facebook at all.  The only way to keep your personal life as private as you want it to be is to not post anything you wouldn't want everyone to know about.

If you would like more information about this page or central Pennsylvania attorney Doug Stoehr's areas of practice, contact our Altoona, Pennsylvania, law firm by calling 814-946-4100.

Flooring Company Sued in Slip-And-Fall Accident

Be careful where you are walking! A Philly-area school was sued by a former high school administrator for a slip-and-fall injury.  The story, which can be found here, summarized the injuries the woman sustained when she slipped on wet flooring glue at her school in North Philadelphia, PA.  Soon before the woman's accident, a flooring company had been contracted to install new floors in the school where she worked.  According to the article "the Wargo employee did not tell her about the transparent and slippery coating of adhesive that had been applied to the floor minutes before. Suddenly, her feet flew out from under her and she landed hard on her back."  when she was helping the flooring company open doors into the school.  The administrator sustained significant nerve damage which required her to use a cane to walk.  She was eventually diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, and now requires the help of her spouse and friends consistently throughout the day.  The flooring company settled before the case went to trial.
If you have slipped and fell on the property of another, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and potential pain and suffering.  This may include cases where sidewalks were improperly maintained due to the weather, such as failure to remove snow and ice.   Attorney Doug Stoehr takes cases for clients who have sustained slip-and-fall injuries due to the fault or negligence of another.  For more information on his Altoona, PA area practice, please visit his website at http://www.stoehrlaw.com or call his firm at 814-946-4100.

Crashes Markedly Increase Over Holiday Weekends

We cannot stress to you enough how important it is to remain safe and alert while driving during periods of increased motor activity, especially summer holiday periods like Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.  A news article posted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette several years ago reported that there were a large number of accidents on Pennsylvania highways over Memorial Day weekend, killing 13 people and injuring 294 others. In addition to the increase in accidents and injuries, there were 357 DUI arrests and 7,934 speeding tickets.  Those numbers unfortunately have probably not markedly decreased in recent years. 
Motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents can be easily prevented with a few simple, common-sense tips:
1) BE ALERT. Do not drive while fatigued.
2) BE FOCUSED. Do not be distracted by others in the car, do not use your cell phone while driving, and especially do not text while driving.
3) BE DEFENSIVE. While you may be a responsible and respectful driver, this does not mean that everyone you are sharing the road with is also a good driver. Be alert for aggressive drivers, those who frequently switch lanes or swerve, or those who are tailgating others.
4) BE SAFE. Always wear your seatbelt. In 5 of the 13 deaths recorded this weekend, the victim was not wearing their seatbelt. Additionally, do not consume alcohol before driving or get into a car with a driver who has been drinking. 83 of the 808 crashes this weekend involved alcohol.
Douglas V. Stoehr works with clients who have been injured in motor vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle accidents. If you feel that you have been wrongly hurt in an accident, please contact our office for a free consultation. Safe driving and here's to the start of long-overdue warm weather and a great summer!

Car Crashes Are Second Leading Cause of TBI

Often when people hear about traumatic brain injuries, they tend to envision accidents related to sports.  In reality, falls are the number one leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, followed closely by car crashes.  This information, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control, is true across all age groups.  
One news site (WATE.com) highlighted the story of a young college student who was in a car accident and suffered significant injury to her head.  Her traumatic brain injury was so severe that it was compared to the effects often seen in Shaken Baby Syndrome.  To read more about this girl's story and to educate yourself on the lasting effects of a TBI injury, please click here
If you have recently been in a car crash, it is important to closely monitor your body's response and recovery after the accident.  If you suspect a TBI, immediately seek help from a qualified physician who can diagnose you and develop a comprehensive treatment plan.  If your car accident was due to the fault of another, it may also be time to seek legal action.  This is especially true if your injuries cause you to miss extended periods of work or not be able to continue your line of work at all.  Other major expenses resulting from an accident may include medical bills.  If you or a loved one has recently been in a car accident due to the fault of another, please contact Altoona, PA area personal injury attorney Doug Stoehr to set up an initial, free consultation.  His law office can be reached by visiting his website at http://www.stoehrlaw.com or calling his firm at 814-946-4100.

Chronic Pain and Stress Linked In The Brain

Recent research shows that managing stress may also help control the symptoms associated with chronic pain. Researchers from the University of Montreal studied chronic pain and found an association between intensity of pain and reported stress levels, as reported by the Huffington Post.
In this study, about 25 participants were examined, with about half experiencing chronic pain and the other acting as control subjects.  Researchers found that participants with a smaller hippocampus also often had higher cortisol levels, a stress hormone.  Higher levels of cortisol led to increased pain reporting using a scale of intensity. This was commonly seen in subjects who reported chronic pain symptoms.  
The participants were also put into a functional MRI scanner to measure brain activity.  The fMRI results showed that subjects with a smaller hippocampus responded to pain in an area that's also linked to anticipatory anxiety.  Additionally, those same participants were also more likely to have heightened cortisol levels (chronic pain sufferers).  The link between these two areas suggests that, by controlling stress and anxiety, chronic pain symptoms may also be controlled as well. 
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury attorney who serves the western and central Pennsylvania areas.  His clients include those who now suffer from chronic pain as a result of an injury due to the fault of another.  For more information on his Altoona, PA practice, please visit his website http://www.stoehrlaw.com or call his office at 814-946-4100.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Addresses Scams Aimed At Elderly


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an article on July 1st, 2013 that took an in-depth look at some recent, prominent scams that are being aimed at the area's elderly population.  For each common scam, the article described the offense, how to handle it after it's happened, and how to prevent other possible occurrences from happening.  Some of the scams the newspaper article covered included:
-The friendly handyman
-The bank examiner
-The relative in distress
-the pricey funeral
-the 'free' hearing exam
-bargain vacations/free prizes
-fake charity solicitations
-the estate plan scare
To read more about each of these scams in-depth and how the article suggests that you protect yourself, please click here to read the original article
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving western and central Pennsylvania. He takes cases for older Pennsylvanians who have been abused or neglected.  For more information on his Altoona, PA area practice, please call his office at 814-946-4100 or visit his website at http://www.stoehrlaw.com.  Attorney Stoehr takes cases in Blair and the seven surrounding counties, including Huntingdon, Fulton, and Bedford counties.

Prescription Errors in Nursing Homes

Many nursing home residents are on a variety of prescription drugs to regulate their medical conditions.  These drugs are recorded and administered by the staff of the nursing home.  However, the journey from the pharmacist to the patient is a way for medication errors to occur.  The general public is starting to hear about these errors and some cases are being nationally publicized.
An article by the New York Times exposed an investigation into nursing homes in California that have had a high number of prescription drug errors by pharmacists.  According to the article, "In reports obtained by a local newspaper, the department found that in 18 of the 32 investigations conducted in California nursing homes between May 2010 and June 2011 pharmacists failed to red-flag cases in which residents were inappropriately prescribed powerful antipsychotic medications like Seroquel, a drug used to treat schizophrenia. Pharmacists also overlooked or approved cases in which medications were prescribed at questionable levels or in unsafe combinations that could put patients at risk of seizures, accidents or even death, according to the public health department".    The United States Department of Health is also keeping an eye on this phenomenon after a recent study it conducted in which  it was found that, in nursing homes across the country, at least 40 percent of all Medicare claims for antipsychotics, are "inappropriate, given in excessive doses, given for too long, given without the need for use, without adequate monitoring or "in the presence of adverse consequences" and should be reduced or discontinued."
It is important to monitor your loved one's medication, including type and dosage, in order to help minimize the risk of injury or illness.  If your loved one has been injured in a nursing home setting and if you feel that the nursing home has improperly medicated your loved one, it may be time to seek legal assistance.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury attorney specializing in nursing home abuse and negligence. For more information on him and his firm, please call us at (814) 946-4100.

NPR Discusses Social Media and Class Action Lawsuits

Once again, the National Public Radio is weighing in on a relevant topic to today's blog topic.  Social media and its use for legal claims has been an area of hot debate in recent years.  Can private social media posts be used as courtroom evidence?  How do you control jurors and judges who may tweet or Facebook post about a current case? Interestingly, some lawyers are also attempting to use social media to reach large masses of people for class-action lawsuits.  Read about this new phenomenon by clicking the link to the original NPR article, which can be found here.

As stated in earlier blogs, social media can be potentially complicated for clients pursuing a personal injury claim.  Just like applying for a job or being an employee within a company, your social media activity is not as private or as protected as you may think.  Social media can become dangerous for a legal claim when certain pictures or comments are taken out of context and may be used against you.  For this reason, if you are hesitant about posting a picture or writing a comment that you feel may be used against your case, use discretion and do not post that item.  It may be even be better to not discuss your injury, and especially your legal claim, over Facebook at all.  The only way to keep your personal life as private as you want it to be is to not post anything you wouldn't want everyone to know about.

If you would like more information about this page or central Pennsylvania attorney Doug Stoehr's areas of practice, contact our Altoona, Pennsylvania, law firm by calling 814-946-4100.

Car Crashes Are Often Associated With Chronic Pain

If you or someone you know has ever been in a car crash, the idea that chronic pain often follows seems like common sense.  However, it may be startling to hear that crash victims have over an 84% increased risk of experiencing chronic pain.  This is one of the many new aspects of a research study going on in University of Aberdeen School of Medicine, Scotland.  Researchers from the university have been studying chronic pain as it relates to accidents, such as motor vehicle, workplace injuries, fractured bones, surgical operations, childbirth, and other miscellaneous hospitalizations.  By interviewing 241 participants three times over a period of four years, researchers found some interesting results.  In addition to the car crash statistic listed above, 1/3 of patients who were victims of any kind of trauma were more likely to experience a new onset of chronic pain.  There was no significant link between childbirth or surgery and chronic pain.  
These results are extremely important when it comes to making a legal claim after a traumatic event, such as an automobile accident or a slip and fall.  By gauging your pain over a period of months and years, it becomes apparent when pain has resulted from the accident and is now chronic pain, or whether it's due to the healing process.  Talking to a physician may aid in helping to sort out your type, frequency, and intensity of pain in order to best treat you.  Chronic pain is also a significant factor in legal practice and is often taken into consideration when filing a claim surrounding the traumatic event.
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving western and central Pennsylvania.  For more on his career and firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100.

Pool Slide Leads to Lasting Injuries

Companies often create products, such as cooking tools, toys, and medical devices that are later recalled due to resulting safety hazards associated with using that product.  Unfortunately, before these products are recalled, serious injury or death of multiple consumers often occurs. We often hear about these recalls through the nightly news or via e-mail alerts, but sometimes it is too late.
Recently, a young mother died in a pool accident relating to using a inflatable pool slide that was later recalled.  According to an online news report by Care2.com,  a young woman died after breaking her neck going down a Banzai brand inflatable water slide which had been placed over the concrete edge of a pool. Since the slide had partially deflated, the woman hit her head at the bottom of the slide and later died. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommended a recall of over 20,000 of the slides, because "during use, the slide can deflate, allowing the user to hit the ground underneath the slide and become injured. The slide is also unstable and can topple over in both still and windy conditions and carries inadequate warnings and instructions."  The slide was sold most commonly in Toys-R-Us and Walmart stores. Similar reports of injury due to this slide deflating also came from users in Pennsylvania and Missouri, whose accidents resulted in quadriplegia and a broken neck, respectively. 
Serious brain and spinal cord injuries are devastating and life-changing.  If you have been injured due to the fault of another and now have long-lasting spinal cord or brain damage, it may be time to consult with an attorney.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer practicing in western and central Pennsylvania. For more information on his firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100.

High Turnover For Nursing Home Attendants

The nursing home industry is one that is experiencing growth right now, since many aging Americans from the "baby boom" generation are beginning to retire and some decide to enter into nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  With the boom in patients, nursing home are either hiring more attendants or giving attendants longer work hours.  Unfortunately, nursing homes also have a high turnover rate for employees.

A recent article by USA Today talked at length about this phenomenon.  According to the newspaper article, staff shortages are common in nursing home facilities and turnover rates are high.  Between states, the annual turnover rate is between 60-100%, according to research from the Institute for the Future of Aging Services.This is due in large part to the low wages paid by many nursing homes.  Over 20 states have regulated the industry, resulting in minimum-wage protection, some staff members do still make less than $7.25 an hour.  Additionally, according to the article, "Since 2000, there has been a 23% increase in home health care employment, while salaries have remained the same, about $21,000 a year, according to a study conducted by Michael Hicks of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University".  Overall, low wages and little to no benefits are leading to low desirability and high turnover rates for these jobs.

This new insight into nursing home employees will be helpful in allowing nursing homes to realize how to care for and better serve their patients and staff. With this in mind, nursing homes may be able to modify their practices and staffing procedures to decrease their incidents of negligence, abuse, and under/inefficient staffing.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a central Pennsylvania lawyer specializing in nursing home abuse and negligence.  For more information on his practice, please call at 814-946-4100.

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