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Study Shows Safety Inspections Protect Workers and Do Not Hurt Businesses

Researchers have determined that random inspections of businesses in the United States have a measurable impact on the risk of workers being hurt on the job. Inspections lower the danger for workers, and have no negative effect on the businesses being inspected. The report was published in the journal Science.

According to the study, workplaces chosen randomly for inspections by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) showed 9.4 percent fewer injuries, than those that did not receive inspections.

The study also found that safety inspections had no measurable negative impact on business. The companies studied had no greater rate of job loss, decreased sales, or reduced credit ratings than those that did not receive inspections.

Over the four decades of its existence, OSHA has been criticized by labor organizations, which claim it does not do enough to protect workers, and business groups, which claim that it creates unnecessary expenses.

The claim of runaway costs was part of the inspiration for the study. Three professors from Harvard Business School, Boston University and the University of California, decided to put the claim to a test. The researchers said they had no particular expectations, because the rhetoric on both sides was so vitriolic that it was difficult to determine the facts, until the study was complete.

Michael Toffel, of Harvard Business School, one of the authors of the study, said “It seemed like a real puzzle that people had such strong opinions without a whole lot of evidence.”

Contact and Chicago construction accident lawyer or Chicago construction accident attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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Romney Plans Medical Malpractice Caps

With the Supreme Court upholding President Obama’s signature health care reform law, and some vowing that his successor will overturn it, it is important to examine what Mitt Romney has pledged to do as President.

Romney has made clear that he will institute caps on non-economic damages for medical malpractice lawsuits. This includes damages for pain and suffering, as a result of malpractice by medical professionals. Many believe that limiting such damages is harmful to patients who are injured by negligent medical personnel.

More broadly, Romney has promised to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, but his plan is short on details.

Romney has stated that his plan would turn Medicaid over to the states, and cap its growth at the rate of inflation plus 1percent, amounting to a deep cut in the program. Romney would also allow private insurance to be sold from one state to another, so that insurers could choose the state with the laws they prefer, similar to the practices of credit card companies today.

In addition to capping non-economic damages for medical malpractice suits, Romney would encourage “consumer reports-type” rankings of health plans, with the intention of making health care more of a free market.

Romney’s plan also includes a vow to “end tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance.” The current health care system depends on the tax deduction for employer-based health care. If Romney plans to put an end to that subsidy, he has yet to explain what he will replace it with.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Painkillers May Increase Cost of Work Injuries

Insurance companies that reimburse employees for workplace injuries, pay billions of dollars every year, mainly for major accidents. Recently, another cost has emerged: payments to workers with routine injuries, treated with strong painkillers.

Insurance companies pay about $1.4 billion per year for opioids, or narcotic painkillers. However, studies have now shown that when these medications are prescribed too early, or for too long a period, the worker’s return to employment may be unnecessarily delayed.

According to a 2008 study by the California Workers Compensation Institute, workers who were prescribed large doses of painkillers after an injury, such as back strain, stayed off work much longer than those workers with similar ailments who received lower doses.

Accident Fund Holdings, an insurance company, conducted an analysis in 2010, which found that when a painkiller such as OxyContin is used, the cost of a work injury can rise by as much as nine times. Greater use of opioids are associated with delayed recovery from injuries suffered in the workplace, according to Alex Swedlow of the California Workers Compensation Institute.

Many experts say that treating workplace injuries with narcotics is part of a larger problem involving the overuse of drugs like Percocet, OxyContin and Duragesic. In the workplace, such drugs are often prescribed for common ailments such as back pain.

High doses of opioids come with side effects, such as lethargy and drowsiness, and they can lead to addiction. There is also the danger of a fatal overdose. While insurers decry the high cost of prescription painkillers, injured workers are often just seeking relief from their occupational injuries, and advocates for workers emphasize that decisions regarding medical care should be made by doctors, not insurance companies.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago workers compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Drowning at Geneva Dam

A man sacrificed his own life last August to save a child drowning near a dam on the Fox River near Geneva, Illinois. The man’s relatives have now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, claiming that access to the dam should have been restricted.

Randy Suchy, a 59-year-old Naperville resident, drowned after saving a 12-year-old boy, who fell in the water during a church event. While the boy was rescued, Suchy lost his life.

Suchy’s family claims that the incident never should have happened, alleging the city should be held liable for its failure to monitor the area. While there are warning signs, the area had not been roped off.

The suit seeks unspecified damages. A jury trial has been demanded.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims, in part, that “The city of Geneva knew that children or adults who came into the water at the downstream side of the Geneva dam could be killed. At all times relevant, and for many years prior to Aug. 5, 2011, the city of Geneva knew it was unsafe and potentially lethal for children and adults to be on land in close proximity to the water, and the downstream side of the Geneva dam.”

After a 2007 study by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, officials considered removing, or improving, the safety of the low-head dam, but a decision was never made.

The two sides will face off in court on August 9.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago wrongful death attorney and Chicago wrongful death lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Many Medical Malpractice Claims Litigated, Few Go to Trial

On average, a medical malpractice claim is likely to lead to litigation, but most of those will be dismissed, or decided in favor of the physician, according to a new study.

The study was published by the Chicago-based American Medical Association in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The head researcher was Dr. Anupam B. Jena of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

The study focused on claim resolved between 2002 and 2005, and required defense costs to be incurred. About 55 percent of claims resulted in litigation, with some variation. Claims against obstetricians and gynecologists resulted in litigation about 63 percent of the time, while the number for anesthesiologists was 47 percent.

A slight majority of the cases studied were dismissed by the court, though the number varied by specialty. Internists and subspecialists had 33.3 percent of claims resolved prior to a verdict, while the number for pathologists was 49.6 percent.

According to the study, a claim culminated in a trial verdict 4.5percent of the time. The study also found that more than 75 percent of claims against specialists that go to trial are decided in favor of the physician. When a case was taken to the point of a verdict, the physician prevailed 79.6 percent of the time.

The study also looked at the length of time it takes to close a claim. The mean time was 19 months. Claims that were litigated tended to close after 25 months, while non-litigated claims closed in just under one year, on average.

Contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney and Chicago birth injury lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Teenager’s Death on Camping Trip Leads to Lawsuit

The father of a teenager, killed on a camping trip when she was struck by a falling tree, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that organized the tour. The fatal accident took place near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Elizabeth Burns, a Lake Forest teenager, was helping to organize the campsite for a student camping trip in Wyoming’s Teton Wilderness, when a 75-foot tree fell and struck her. Witnesses said she did not regain consciousness.

The girl’s father, Michael Burns, filed a wrongful death suit in federal court against the commercial camping company that organized the trip, Wilderness Ventures.

According to the lawsuit, employees of the company were attempting to lift heavy bags of food into the tall branches of the tree, to prevent bear attacks, when the tree snapped, killing Burns.

The suit claims that the pine trees in the area had been weakened by insect infestation, and had shallow roots. Dead trees like the one that killed Burns are known colloquially as “widow makers,” according to the lawsuit, because they are likely to topple.

Wilderness Ventures placed a call for help, via satellite phone on July 18 at about 2:45 p.m. Rescuers traveled by helicopter to the campsite northeast of Jackson Hole, but Burns was declared dead at the scene by 4:35 p.m.

Blunt force trauma to Burns’ head was the likely cause of death, according to the Teton County Sheriff’s Department. Police said they are treating the case as an accident.

The camping group included 14 people: twelve 16-year-olds and two adult leaders. Park rangers transported the remaining members of the group to a park lodge, where crisis counselors met with them.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago wrongful death attorney and Chicago wrongful death lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit over Highway Death

A wrongful death case has been filed on behalf of a young mother who died when she was struck by a car while walking along the Eisenhower Expressway. Diana Paz had been stopped by the Illinois State Police, and then released, despite her allegedly intoxicated state. The suit claims that the police acted recklessly in releasing her. The town of Westchester is also named in the suit, as that is where she was first taken into custody.

Paz was released in the early morning of September 2 by an Illinois state trooper at the Mannheim Road BP Amoco station, though she had no cell phone and no purse. Reportedly, she was intoxicated at the time of the release, and was struck about twenty minutes later by a vehicle traveling on the Eisenhower Expressway.

For reasons unknown, she had been walking in the median of the roadway. The woman was a mother, and her family’s legal counsel said her son would still have her in his life if police had not let the intoxicated woman go free. Her five-year-old son is now being raised by his grandparents, and asks about his mother, the attorney said.

The grandmother who is taking care of Paz’s son says she wants to know why the police did not protect her daughter, because it was clear she was intoxicated when police booked her for driving the wrong way on the Eisenhower Expressway. Video taken of her at the police station showed her stumbling. An autopsy later revealed her blood alcohol concentration was two times the legal limit of .08.

Illinois state police said no policy was violated.

Ms. Paz was studying criminal justice with the goal of becoming a police officer.

Contact a Chicago car accident lawyer or Chicago wrongful death attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Fatal Workplace Injuries On the Rise in Illinois

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its final data on fatal injuries in the workplace in the year 2010. While such on-the-job deaths have been decreasing nationwide for some time, they are on the rise in Illinois.

According to the BLS data, released on April 25, 2012, fatal workplace injuries in Illinois increased by 30%, from a 2009 total of 158 to 206 in 2010. The report, from the BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program, was released to coincide with Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28. The day is set aside to remember American workers who were injured, made ill, or lost their lives on the job.

Nationally, workplace deaths have been decreasing steadily since the mid-1990s, from a total of 6,632 in 1994 to 4,690 in 2010. This is a slight increase from the 2009 total of 4,551, which was the lowest ever recorded by CFOI.

The most frequent cause of a workplace death is a highway incident, with 1,044 occurring nationwide in 2010. Other frequent causes include homicide, falling, and being struck by an object. Workplace homicides, however, have fallen more than 50 percent since a high of 1,080 in 1994.

The largest number of workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry, but the highest rate of fatal work injuries was in the agriculture, fishing, forestry, and hunting industry. In terms of occupation, fishing and logging workers suffered the highest rate of on-the-job fatalities.

To learn more, contact a Chicago workers compensation attorney and Chicago construction accident lawyer at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg.

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