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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

How has Tort Reform Affected Auto Insurance Rates?

Terri February Week 2 - Img - Tort Personal Injury

If you own or lease a car, then you probably know all too well how expensive automobile insurance rates have gotten. It seems as if every time your policy renews the price jumps up a bit, and those incremental increases add up over time. If you’ve gone looking for a better rate and complained to an insurance sales rep, you’ve probably been told that the reason that rates are so high is that the insurance companies end up having to pay such large damages on behalf of their clients who are charged with negligence in personal injury lawsuits. This is an easy excuse to give, but it is not necessarily the truth. Let’s take a closer look at whether and how tort reform has affected auto insurance rates.

First we need to understand what tort reform is. Tort reform is a legislative adjustment to the way that the legal system in some states address personal injury lawsuits. Though there are a number of ways that tort reform can be enacted, it generally limits the financial award that a jury is able to provide in compensation for damages. This would bring an end to what insurance companies say happen when a case reaches a jury: they claim that juries feel great sympathy for victims and give them financial awards that are neither fair nor practical. Sometimes these awards can reach into the millions, and this is why the companies so frequently choose to settle out of court.

The best way to determine whether tort reform works to lower auto insurance rates is to look at states where it has been put into place. What you’ll find is that the arguments in favor of tort reform may make sense when they are first heard, in reality they have had little impact. According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, states where no-fault repeal has been introduced have only seen auto insurance expenditures fall by 12 percent, and in states where the repeal has simply been to relax collateral source restrictions the expenditures have only fallen by 6 percent. In states where the reforms have been focused on bad faith reform, noneconomic damage caps or modifications to joint and several liability, there has been no measurable impact. Perhaps more importantly, the reforms have done nothing to diminish the number of people who are driving without auto insurance, thus giving lie to the idea that tort reform would create change that would decrease the number of uninsured drivers.

Though the auto insurance industry likes to paint a picture of personal injury attorneys as the “bad guys” who are responsible for high auto insurance rates, the evidence behind this claim does not exist. In trying to enact auto insurance tort reform, the companies are trying to limit the payments that they need to make to victims, but they do little to pass those savings on to their customers.

For information about legal representation involving any kind of personal injury, whether a result of an auto accident, a slip and fall accident, a case of medical malpractice or any other type of injury, contact the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law.

Is your Insurance Company Negotiating in Bad Faith?

Insurance Company Bad Faith

When a person is injured in an accident, in most cases their injuries are covered by their insurance company. In instances where the accident is determined to have been the legal responsibility of another person, then that other person’s insurance company generally pays the expenses. In all cases, as consumers we rely upon the insurance companies from whom we buy our policies to honor their contracts and to act in good faith, and when they fail to do so they can be accused of acting in bad faith, and a tort action can be pursued against them.

When it comes to being able to tell whether your insurance company is negotiating in bad faith in reference to third party claims, it is important to understand what the insurance company’s responsibility is. They are expected to argue against their policy holder’s liability and cover the legal costs of doing so, and they are expected to pay whatever judgment is decided against the policy holder up to the limits of their policy’s coverage as long as the act is covered under the policy.  An insurance company can be accused of negotiating in bad faith if it fails in either of their duties – by wrongly refusing to defend the policy holder in a lawsuit against them or by wrongly refusing to pay the judgment against the policy holder in a lawsuit for actions covered by the policy.

Every situation is different, but there are some common examples of insurance companies acting in bad faith in third party claims. One is by creating an undue delay in the handling of a claim or by conducting a subpar investigation of the details of the claim. Another example of bad faith is refusing to defend a lawsuit or to make a reasonable settlement offer, unreasonably interpreting the coverage in a policy, or making threats against a policy holder. An insurance company that is found guilty of acting in bad faith can be assessed punitive damages as well as real damages.

When it comes to issues of workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania, an insurer can be accused of bad faith if they refuse to pay a claim filed by an injured worker without any arguably reasonable basis, and this is true whether it is denied by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier or the insurance company for a third party that has been named in a personal injury lawsuit related to the claim. As a Pennsylvania worker who has been injured on the job, you are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages that you’ve incurred. If your claim has been denied by an insurance company and you believe that they are acting in bad faith, you need an experienced law firm to act as your legal advocate and stand up for your rights. Call the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law today to learn more about how we can help.

Farm Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

farm injuriesWhen people suffer an injury on the job, they are generally entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim to get reimbursed for their medical expenses and a portion of the wages that they lose if they need to miss work for treatment, recovery, or rehabilitation. Injuries can occur in nearly any kind of work environment, whether an office, a construction site, a retail setting, or elsewhere, but one of the job settings that puts workers most at risk is the farm. No matter what the job title or responsibilities, the potential for injury exists. Farm workers often work with animals or crops, and that can expose them to chemicals or disease. They also work with heavy machinery and tools. Despite the hazards they face, farm workers in some states do not have the same rights as other workers to file a worker’s compensation claim, and in the state of Pennsylvania only some workers have those rights. If you are injured on a farm in Pennsylvania, you need to know whether you are eligible to file for workers’ compensation. The Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law can advise you on how the law applies to you, and can represent you when you file a claim.

What determines whether a farm worker in Pennsylvania can file a workers’ compensation claim when they are injured is the number of employees that the farmer employs and how much those workers are paid. The rule specifically states that a farmer has to have at least one agricultural worker to whom they pay at least $1,200, or else employ at least one worker for a minimum of 30 days or more per calendar year. If you are a farm worker whose owner is large enough to meet this threshold, then you can proceed with a workers’ compensation claim.

In some cases, a farm owner may tell you that they are not required to carry workers’ compensation because of these rules, but hey may be incorrect, even if they believe that they are. A farmer who brings in day workers as independent consultants who has not checked to see whether their employer has provided appropriate insurance may end up responsible for the workers’ injuries.  Even if not, there are still options available to you. A farm owner who does not provide workers’ compensation to a worker can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit, and so can any third party whose negligence contributed to your injury.

An experienced workers’ compensation attorney from Vanasse Law will be able to help you answer these questions, and to determine what your options are. We will help you get compensation the compensation that you deserve for the damage that you’ve suffered. Contact us for a no obligation appointment to discuss your situation.

Repetitive Stress Injuries and Workers Compensation in Lancaster County

Whether you work in an office environment or on a factory assembly line, repetitive stress injury is a real risk. A repetitive stress injury (or repetitive strain injury as it is sometimes called) is a very real physical condition that occurs when too much stress is placed on a part of the body. It often leads to pain and swelling, and if left untreated can result in long-term tissue damage. The injuries are generally caused by repeating the same movements over and over again, and this is a frequent occurrence in occupational settings. If you are experiencing this type of pain and your job includes maintain the same posture or repeating the same motion for a long period of time, then you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. The attorneys at Vanasse Law, LLC can help those who have suffered repetitive stress injuries get the workers compensation they deserve in Lancaster County.

Repeating the same movements over and over again cause injuries to tendons, nerves, muscles and other soft body tissues. It can occur as a result of something as strenuous as continually lifting heavy boxes or as fine-tuned as high-speed typing. The body is not made to withstand the same motion for hours, days, and weeks, and eventually it succumbs to cumulative trauma.  There are a number of different types of repetitive stress injuries that are commonly seen in work environments. These include:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis
  • Tenosynovitis/DeQuervain’s Syndrome
  • Tendinosis
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger or Thumb
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Though each of these conditions is different, the symptoms of repetitive stress injuries are similar, and include pain, tightness, stiffness and soreness. Many people experience either a coldness or numbness or a sensation of burning, and the pain is often bad enough to disrupt sleep.

Repetitive stress injuries are more easily prevented than treated. Maintaining the right posture, using the right equipment, and being properly trained on both can be big helps. Treatment is most effective when the problem is diagnosed early, and is often provided through rest, rehabilitation and physical therapy, but it can take an extended period of time to fully recover. Unfortunately, those who have suffered repetitive stress injuries are often vulnerable to reinjury, and may not be able to return to the same work that caused the problem in the first place.

If you have been diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury as a result of repeated actions required on the job, then you may be eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Depending upon the nature of the injury, your benefits could provide you with reimbursement for your medical expenses, as well as compensation for any time that you may need to be away from work.

Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be intimidating. Many employers do not understand repetitive stress injuries, and may deny your claim. In Lancaster County, the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys of Vanasse Law, LLC will guide you through the process, making sure that you understand your rights and acting as powerful advocates. Contact our office today to see how we can help.

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