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Union Membership Declining

As an attorney who has been born and raised in a union family, I always have concerns over what is going on with unions. While I represent any and all people who have been injured or killed in car accident, industrial accident, medical malpractice, motorcycle accidents, work accidents or by defective products, I take a special interest when it comes to union families.

Recently I came across a study of unions in America. Union membership has been declining for decades.  In the last year however the percentage of American Workers in unions basically remained unchanged.  Some of the states that remain union strong however are:

 Top 5 states with  the strongest unions are:

1.         New York is the strongest with  24. 3 percent of worker  being union

2          Alaska 23.1 percent of workers are union

3.         Hawii- 22.1 percent of workers are union

4.         Washington- 18.9 percent of workers are union

5.         Rhode Island- 16.9 percent of workers are union

The 5 states with the weakest unions are:

1.  North Carolina is the weakest with 3.0 percent of workers being union

2. Arkansas- 3.5 percent of workers are union

3. Mississippi- 3.6 percent of workers are union

4.  South Carolina- 3.7 percent of workers are union

5.  Utah-  3.9 percent of workers are union

If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Stark & Stark today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

I am currently covered by Medicare.  Can I keep my Medicare coverage even though marketplace plans are available, or do I need to select a plan through the marketplace?

You can keep your Medicare and you do not need to make any changes to your coverage because of Obamacare. You may have heard about the new requirement that all adults need to have health insurance coverage (known as the “individual mandate”) or have to pay a penalty if they go without health insurance, but your Medicare coverage satisfies this requirement. So if you have Medicare, this penalty won’t apply to you.

If you have Medicare, you should keep it. In fact, companies that sell marketplace plans are prohibited from selling these plans to you if they know you are covered by Medicare. If you do drop Medicare, and choose to re-enroll months or years later, you may face a penalty for late enrollment.

Will Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D drug plans, or Medigap policies be sold through the workplace?

No. Medicare Advantage plans (such as Medicare HMOs and PPOs), Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, and Medigap policies will not be sold through the new marketplace. They will be available as they are today. You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D plan on the Medicare website (www.Medicare.gov) or by signing up directly with the company that offers the plan. To learn more about your coverage options under Medicare, including the Medicare Advantage plans, Part D drug plans, and Medigap supplemental policies available in your area, and how to enroll, you can go to the Medicare Plan Finder on www.Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

My husband and I are retired.  He just turned 65 and is now covered by medicare, but I am g62 and don’t have health insurance.  Can I enroll in Medicare as his spouse?

No. Medicare doesn’t offer spouse or dependent coverage. Each person must qualify in her or her own right. You do not qualify yet because you are younger than age 65. If you do not have health insurance now, you can consider signing up for health insurance coverage through a marketplace plan. If your household income is less than 400% of the federal poverty level, you may qualify for premium tax credits to reduce your cost of a marketplace policy. If your household income is at or below 138% of poverty (about $15,900 for an individual), you might be eligible for Medicaid under the new eligibility rules if you live in a state that is expanding its Medicaid program.

I am 66 years old and still work.  I have health insurance coverage through my employer.  I am planning on working a few more years and would like to keep the coverage that my employer offers.  How does the marketplace affect me?

It doesn’t. You can keep your employer-sponsored health insurance coverage as long as that is an option for you. Since you are already eligible for Medicare because you are over age 65, you should sign up for Medicare now so that when you stop working, or if you lose your employer coverage before then you are already enrolled in Medicare. Once you decide when you want to stop working, you should contact the Social Security Administration so that you don’t have a gap in coverage between your employer’s plan and Medicare.

Ten Motorcycle Safety Tips

The warm weather is here and there is an increase in the number of motorcycles on the roads.  Below are ten motorcycle safety tips to keep you save this summer:

  1. Make eye contact with drivers.  Don’t assume the other drivers see you.
  2. Watch “vehicle behavior” as you approach.  Oftentimes, vehicles misjudge speed and distance.
  3. Watch for “left-turn” intersections.  Left turns into the path of a motorcycle are the most frequent accident.  Be extra careful when you see a vehicle in the left turn lane.
  4. Watch when turning left from a highway. 
  5. Watch for hazardous road conditions such as wet roads, fluid spills, sand, gravel and potholes (especially after this winter).
  6. Slow down around curves.
  7. Always wear a helmet.
  8. Always wear riding gear designed for motorcycle riders.
  9. Always protect your eyes and face with a full face helmet or built in face shield.
  10. Wear bright, reflective clothing in order to be clearly seen by others.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact Stark & Stark today for your free consultation.

Pennsylvania Has Fewest Traffic Fatalities

In 2013, Pennsylvania had the fewest traffic fatalities since record-keeping in the Commonwealth began in 1928.  The number of traffic related deaths dropped to 1, 208 from 1,310 in 2012.  There were declines in the number of fatalities among those not wearing seat belts, deaths caused by speeding, deaths in single vehicle crashes, and DUI related deaths.  

Unfortunately, despite the overall decrease in traffic fatalities, there were some categories of traffic fatalities that saw increases last year. Categories that saw increases were fatalities caused by distracted driving, head-on collisions or sideswipes, and deaths involving drivers age 75 or older.  

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact Stark & Stark today for your free consultation.

Dental Implants "Caveat Emptor"

Caveat Emptor is Latin for “Let the Buyer Beware” and consumers should be careful when selecting a dental professional to perform dental implants. 

Despite the advancement in dental care, millions of Americans still suffer tooth loss- mostly due to tooth decay, gum disease or traumatic injury.  For many years, the only treatment options available to people with missing teeth were bridges and dentures.  Recently, dental implants are available and the recommended option for many.  Dental Implants are replacement tooth roots.  Dental implants provide a strong foundation for permanent or removable replacement teeth that are made to match natural teeth.

Unfortunately, dental implants are very expensive ranging from $4,000.00 to $7,000.00 per tooth and are not covered by dental insurance.  As such, there are many dental professionals who are looking to perform this procedure. 

Before deciding on a dental professional to perform dental implants, I recommend you find out the following:

·       What training has this person received? 

·       Was the training in dental school? If so, when did they attend?

·       Did the person receive specialized training specific to dental implants?

·       Who provided the training?

·       How many dental implants has the person performed in the past year?

·       Has this person lectured or written on the topic of dental impants? 

·       Does this person regularly attend lectures and seminars regarding dental implants?

·       What percentage of the dental practice are dental implants?

·       Do they have any references?

I have received many legal consultations over the year from consumers who had dental implants that failed.  Most times, the failure of the dental implants is NOT due to the negligence of a dental professional.  In fact, failure of dental implants can occur without any negligence.  However, consumers should be aware that there are dental professionals who perform this procedure that are clearly not qualified.

Types of Nursing Home Negligence Claims

 

I have been litigating nursing home negligence cases for approximately 16 years handling a wide variety of different types of claims.  Below is a list of the different types of claims:

 Pressure ulcers / decubitis ulcers / bedsores

 Falls resulting in fractures

 Dehydration / Malnutrition

 Physical Abuse

 Elopement (Alzheimer’s Patients)

 Contractures

 Chemical Restraints and Physical Restraints

 Medication Errors

The most common claim I have handled over the years is the “falls resulting in fractures.”  During my years, I have seen an increase in the number of falls.  I believe the increase is due to chronic understaffing.  When a resident is admitted to a nursing home, there are fall risk assessments and orders made based on fall risk.  For example, a resident may require a two people to assist when the resident has to use the bathroom or a resident may need a hoyer lift to get out of bed.  Unfortunately, there are nursing homes that are understaffed and consequently a nurse’s aide is trying to do the job which requires 2 people.  I have seen situations where the nurse’s aide dropped a resident or a resident rolled out of bed because orders were not followed. 

Generally, when a resident sustains a fracture, it could lead to death.  It is well known the link between hip fractures and death in the elderly. If you or a loved one has been injured while in a nursing home, please contact Stark & Stark today.

 

The Thing that Wouldn't Leave, or, Dealing with Squatters

If one is above a certain age, one may remember a “Saturday Night Live” sketch called “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave”, about a comically boring and obtuse houseguest who, ignoring all hints from the homeowners, wouldn’t budge.

A houseguest is one thing, but what if this horror movie involves someone who is actually living in real estate one owns, not paying any rent and not bound to any lease…in other words, a squatter?  Unfortunately in Pennsylvania, there really is something to the saying that possession is nine-tenths of the law.  Once a squatter moves in, it’s not easy to get he/she out. 

Let’s start with what one CAN’T generally do.   One can’t simply call the police and ask the police to escort the squatter out.  The police will explain that the matter is a civil matter and they only deal with criminal matters.  The police will further advise that one obtain counsel and “go through the courts” to get the squatter out.

Translating from policespeak,  “going through the courts” means filing an ejectment action against the squatter and/or any other occupants of the real estate.  This type of lawsuit, often popularly known as an eviction, ultimately seeks the issuance of a writ of possession (a document issued by the court empowering the county sheriff to remove the squatter, by force if necessary, and deliver possession of the real estate back to the owner).  Depending on the county, the process may take some time, but it is in any case better than simply watching and waiting while a squatter ties up the sale or rental of real estate.

At Stark & Stark, we can institute and proceed with ejectment actions in any county of Pennsylvania, and also assist with taking action toward getting any personal property left behind by a squatter disposed of, without liability to the owner of the real estate.

Keeping Your Electronic Devices Secure

Your smartphone and laptop are potential sources of your identity and your personal information.  Here are some tips for keeping these devices secure.

1.    Use security software to protect your identity.  Install anti-virus software, anti-spy software and a firewall.  Update these protections frequently, and change your passwords every few months.  Protect against intrusions and infections that can compromise your computer files or passwords by installing security patches for your operating system.

2.    Avoid Phishing emails.  Do not click on links or download programs sent up strangers.  Opening a file from someone you don’t know can expose your system to a computer virus or spyware that can capture your passwords or other information.

3.   Avoid sending personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place unless you see that your information will be protected.  If you use an encrypted website, only the information you send to or receive from that website is protected.  If you use a secure wireless network, all the information you send on that network is protected.

4.    Lock your laptop  and only keep financial information on your laptop only when necessary.  Do not use an automatic login feature that saves your name and password, and always log off when you are finished.  

Stark & Stark Congratulates Shareholder, Joseph Cullen Jr., Esq.

Stark & Stark would like to congratulate Shareholder, Joseph Cullen Jr., Esq. for his re-election as Vice Chair of the Bucks County Republican Committee. Joe will be serving his second two year term in this position. Joe is a Shareholder and member of Stark & Stark's Accident and Personal  Injury group. His office is located in the Bucks County, Yardley office. 

Keeping Your Personal Information Secure Offline

Everyone today is concerned about identity theft.  Here are some actions you can take to protect yourself against identity theft.

1.    Lock your financial documents in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet or purse at work.

2.    Limit what you carry.  When you leave home or work, take only the information, credit or debit cards you need.  Do not take your Social Security card.  Make a copy of your Medicare card and black out all but the last 4 digits of your Social Security number – carry this copy with you unless you are going to use your card at a doctor’s office.

3.   Do not share information at your workplace, a business, your child’s school or a doctor’s office without asking why that information is needed and how that information will be safeguarded.

4.    Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards and similar documents when you no longer need them.

5.   Destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw them out.

6.   Take outgoing mail to the Post Office or deposit it in Post Office collection boxes.  Promptly remove mail from your home mailbox.  If you will not be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail, at your local Post Office.

Consider opting out of pre-screened offers for credit and insurance by mail.  You can opt out permanently, or for 5 years, by calling 1-888-567-8688 or got to optoutprescreen.com