Products Liability Law

OSHA – No One’s Minding the Store – A Dangerous Position for Workers

All too often we discover that our injured clients have worked – often for many years – in factories and other facilities where the conditions are unsafe, and often extremely dangerous. All because their employers don’t care about their safety. All because the government doesn’t enforce the laws designed to assure worker safety.

That’s why the latest report about OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is troubling – but not at all surprising. Over 5,000 workers were killed on the job in 2017, and nearly 3 million were injured. Where was OSHA? They weren’t doing their job because they didn’t have anyone to do the job of inspecting workplaces.

As of January 2018, OSHA had only 764 inspectors, that’s 15 per state. The number has been dropping every year since 2016. In fact, enforcement actions – when OSHA inspects workplaces and prosecutes dangerous jobsites – have dropped to record low levels. It’s not surprising under the current administration, which does not value workplace safety. Former OSHA policy adviser Debbie Berkowitz estimates that it will take more than 160 years for the agency to inspect every workplace under its jurisdiction just once at current staffing levels.

This news is troubling because it means that if employers know that they don’t have to maintain a safe workplace, they won’t. And they don’t.

So, what does that mean for you? It means that you need to be careful, hope that your employer cares about you and maintains a safe work environment. It also means that if you get hurt, you need a law firm that will fight for you – whether it’s pursuing your workers’ compensation claim or assuring that any negligent parties are held legally responsible for your injuries and damages. At the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC, we are prepared to help you if you get hurt or a loved one is killed at work. No one should have to experience this hardship, but if you need a lawyer, call us 610-446-3457 to set up a free consultation.

 

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Don’t let your claim turn into a pumpkin because you should have called a lawyer

The decision to file a lawsuit can be tricky. Generally, a person may only file a lawsuit within a limited time period, known as the statute of limitations. If you wait until the last minute, your claim might change from a lawsuit into a pumpkin on its way to the courthouse.

For the following personal injury claims, the statute of limitations is two years: Negligence, Toxic Tort, Wrongful Death, Medical Malpractice, Products Liability, and Fraud. See 42 Pa. C. S. § 5524. This time limit begins to run on the date the injury occurred.

A lawyer can help you determine whether an exception applies. Exceptions have applied when an injury is not discovered until much later or could not be discovered until more than two years after the act that caused the harm. But in most cases, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years, and you shouldn’t assume it’s longer.

A lawyer can also investigate the claims and explain the likelihood of success before being hurled into protracted litigation.

So talk to a lawyer about your case.

When you retain our law firm:

  1. We investigate your claim
  2. We evaluate the case in a holistic manner
  3. We prepare the most effective complaint possible
  4. We consider all of the potential claims
  5. We have time to address any procedural questions
  6. We make informed decisions that lead you to a successful result.

We believe it is best to retain a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your claim. Contact a lawyer at the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC at 610-446-3457 for a free consultation.

 

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Answers to Common Questions About the Unwanted Side-Effects of Some Medicine

 So, you’ve taken a drug and experienced a side-effect. Most are minor and go away quickly. But others can be serious or fatal. As a result, we’ve put together the following questions and answers to help you understand your rights if you experience side-effects from medicine.

  • When a doctor prescribes medicine, do we have to read all the lengthy print-outs, pamphlets and warning labels?
    • Manufacturers or physicians may be held liable to pay damages caused by their failure to warn a patient about side-effects of medication. Federal law requires a manufacturer to provide warnings about potential risks on prescription labels and instructions. The strongest warnings a manufacturer must provide are black box warnings. Similarly, physicians must know about these warnings, and have a duty to inform the patient about them before prescribing the medicine.
  • What if you have an adverse reaction to a drug and believe that your doctor failed to take the proper steps or that the manufacturer didn’t warn you about the side-effects?
    • The failure to warn about potential side-effects may be a basis for a lawsuit against either the physician or manufacturer or both. If a manufacturer or a physician fails to warn to patient of a risk, then either may breach the “duty of care” to the patient. Expert testimony can establish that a drug caused an injury. See Stange v. Janssen Pharma. et al., 2018 PA Super 4 (Pa. Super. Jan. 8, 2018).
  • What should I do and what should my doctor do to reduce the possibility of these side effects?
    • First, a doctor should know the characteristics of the drug.
    • Second, the doctor must also know the safe amount of the drug to prescribe.
    • Third, you should tell your doctor about any medication you are taking.
    • Fourth, your doctor should advise you of “any dangers or side effects associated with the use of the drug.”
    • Fifth, the doctor should explain to you how and when to take the drug.

If you believe that a prescription caused you injuries, contact the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC. We can review your situation, and we work with other law firms that handle these types of claims.

 

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Available Soon – Fee Agreements in Pennsylvania (6th Edition) – Edited by Attorney Daniel J. Siegel

Almost hot off the presses. I just received a copy of the cover of my newest book, Fee Agreements in Pennsylvania. I edited the book (now in its 6th edition) and authored one chapter. The book will be available for purchase in the next few weeks from the publisher, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. The book provides practical and ethical guidance that will help attorneys draft comprehensive fee agreements, and contains sample fee agreements covering a wide range of practice areas. My office regularly provides guidance to attorneys about how to improve their agreements and avoid fee disputes with clients.

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rejects the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products Liability

In a much anticipated opinion, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court finally held that Pennsylvania will not depart from the strict liability standard for product liability cases set forth in Section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts.  In recent years, a divide arose between those favoring the existing strict liability standard and advocates for adopting the alternative standard provided by the Third Restatement.  This rift only deepened as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to address the question, while the Third Circuit predicted that it would ultimately adopt the Third Restatement.  In Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., the Pennsylvania Supreme Court finally resolved this issue and explicitly rejected adoption of the Third Restatement. Click here to read the Majority and the Concurring and Dissenting Opinions (in one document).19, 2014

In Tincher, the plaintiffs suffered extensive property loss allegedly caused by a defect in the stainless steel tubing that transported natural gas to a fireplace on their first floor.  Due to its defective condition, the tubing was unable to withstand a lightning strike, and the plaintiffs’ house burned following one.

The question certified for the appeal in Tincher was “whether this Court should replace the strict liability analysis of Section 402A of the Second Restatement with the analysis of the Third Restatement.”  The defendants sought adoption of the Third Restatement, arguing that it provides a more precise articulation of the strict liability doctrine and would return Pennsylvania into the mainstream on this issue.  The plaintiffs opposed adoption of the Third Restatement because it essentially would replace the existing strict liability scheme with negligence.

In answering this question, the Court first provided a detailed history of the evolution of product liability law in Pennsylvania.  The Court then overruled its 1978 decision, Azzarrello v. Black Brothers Co., 391 A.2d 1020 (Pa. 1978) and the negligence/strict liability analysis set forth therein.

The Court then considered what the new liability standard should be and declined to adopt the formulation set forth in the Third Restatement, although it did note that the new strict product liability standard is guided by certain principles contained in the Third Restatement.

The new strict product liability standard adopted by the Court is articulated as follows in Tincher:

. . . we conclude that a plaintiff pursuing a cause upon a theory of strict liability in tort must prove that the product is in a “defective condition.”  The plaintiff may prove defective condition by showing either that (1) the danger is unknowable and unacceptable to the average or ordinary consumer, or that (2) a reasonable person would conclude that the probability and seriousness of harm caused by the product outweigh the burden or costs of taking precautions.  The burden of production and persuasion is by a preponderance of the evidence.

Tincher, p. 2.  In explaining this new standard, the Court emphasized that the issue of whether a product is defective is a question of fact to be considered by a jury.  The Court also provided guidance on the practical implications of the new standard, particularly what a plaintiff must now allege in order to establish a prima facie product liability case:

As is generally the case, the plaintiff is the master of the claim in the first instance.  The immediate implication is that counsel must articulate the plaintiff’s strict liability claim by alleging sufficient facts to make a prima facie case premised upon either a “consumer expectations” or “risk-utility” theory, or both.

Tincher, p. 130.

In concluding, the Court stressed that this new strict product liability standard “is not intended as a rigid formula to be offered to the jury in all situations.  The alternate theories of proof contour the notion of ‘defective condition’ in principled terms intended as comprehensive guidelines that are sufficiently malleable to account for product diversity and a variety of legal claims, products, and applications of theory.”  Tincher, p. 132.

 

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