U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Case on Special Needs Students

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments on January 11, 2017 in a case arising out of Douglas County, Colorado that will have a nationwide impact for parents of children that have difficulty learning in the traditional school environment. In the case before the Supreme Court, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, a child was receiving instruction through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the early years of public school education. As the child’s behavior became more difficult nearing 5th grade, the school district made recommendations that the parents thought were insufficient to properly educate the child. The parents transferred the child to a private school and sued the school district under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for failing to meet the educational needs of the child.
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The Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether the IDEA requires a school district to provide 1) “some academic progress” that is more than simply “de minimis” (too trivial or minor to warrant consideration) OR 2) provide a benefit that is more substantial. Based upon the questions posed by the justices, it appears that there is great concern that the school districts are not being held to a high enough standard. The Court may end up struggling with the creation of a measurable guideline that can be used by all school districts for all students. The language of the law as is currently written leaves too much room for argument as to what constitutes “student progress”.

The attorneys at Howland Hess Guinan Torpey Cassidy & O’Connell, LLP remain available to assist any client who might be involved in a dispute with an individual school or a school district. Call today for a free consultation at (215) 947-6240 or contact us online.

 

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell, LLP, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

Driving Drowsy as Dangerous as Driving Drunk?

drowsy-drivingRegardless of where you live or what type of car you drive, driving while drowsy is an incredibly risky endeavor which is seriously underappreciated by motor vehicle operators nationwide. In a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 37% of individuals polled admitted to having fallen asleep while driving. Additionally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 83,000 accidents across the country are caused by fatigued driving each year. These accidents result, on average, in over 40,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths annually.

So, with these facts in mind, let’s take a closer look at the “Drowsy Driver”.

Who fits the bill as being described as a “Drowsy Driver”? The most frequently cited example is an individual who sleeps, on average, less than six hours per night.

And when are accidents caused by “Drowsy Drivers” most common? Not surprisingly, drowsy driving accidents are most common at night, followed by mid-afternoon.

And who are the most common “Drowsy Drivers”? Shift workers are the most common segment of society to feel the effects of drowsy driving, but high school and college students are not far behind.

Many researchers who study the effects of sleep deprivation draw a comparison between being over-drowsy and intoxicated. Research has indicated that individuals operating a motor vehicle on only 4 or 5 hours of sleep are likely to experience symptoms similar to that of intoxication. These symptoms include a pronounced inability to focus, inattentiveness, delayed response and reaction time, blurred vision, impaired field-of-depth judgment, and even falling asleep at the wheel.

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident where the other driver was deemed to be “drowsy” or “fatigued”, the team of lawyers at Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy & O’Connell, LLP are ready and able to fight for your rights to compensation for injuries, property damage, and medical expenses. Call today for a free consultation at (215) 947-6240 or contact us online.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell, LLP, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

What to do When: Injured on the Job

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that workplace injuries do occur, and when they do it is possible the injured employee may be eligible for workers’ compensation. This article will not detail whether or not any particular employee is or is not eligible to receive workers’ compensation or their probability of success, but instead will detail the steps an employee should take following an injury at work.

  1. Report the Accident: In Pennsylvania, an employee is provided 120 days to notify his or her employer about a work accident that causes either an injury or sickness/illness. There is an exceptions to this strict 120 day rule and it is based on workers-compwhen the employee first discovers the injury or illness (if it’s not immediately detectable), known as the “Discovery Rule”. Therefore, if an employee develops a medical condition due to his or her workplace environment but doesn’t show any symptoms for weeks, months, or even years, that employee may still be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits BUT will be held to the same 120 day window to notify his or her employer from the date the employee first discovered the issue. Failure to notify the employer within 120 days of a work-related injury or illness will likely mean that the employer does not need to pay the employee’s workers’ compensation benefits.
  2. Ensure Your Employer Filed a “First Report of Occupational Injury” Form: In addition to doing your part as an employee by notifying your employer of your injury or illness, an injured or sick employee should also confirm that his or her employer has filed with its insurance company and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation what is known as the “First Report of Occupational Injury” form. The insurance carrier is then provided twenty-one (21) days to make a determination on the claim. This means the carrier has 21 days to either accept the employee’s work injury claim, meaning the carrier will cover medical treatment and lost wages, or the carrier can deny the claim.

  3. Promptly Schedule an Appointment with a Workers’ Compensation Doctor Approved by Your Employer: If an employer posts a list of approved workers’ compensation doctors, an employee must see one of those doctors for treatment throughout the first ninety (90) days of their injury or illness. The sooner an employee can get in to the doctor’s office, the better. What happens if an employee decides to seek out his or her own doctor instead of one listed by their employer? The result is that the employer, through its insurance carrier, is not required to pay any medical bills until after the first 90 days of the employee’s injury. An employee should be sure to verify whether or not its employer has a list of approved doctors. If there is no list posted, an injured or ill employee can see a doctor of his or her own choosing from the start without risking losing coverage for medical bills during the first 90 days of the injury or sickness.

  4. Receive Employer’s Decision and Determine Next Steps: An employer can either accept or deny responsibility for an employee’s injury. If an employer accepts responsibility, the employee receives a “Notice of Compensation Payable”. If denied, the employee receives a “Notice of Compensation Denial”. If an employee feels he or she has been wrongfully denied coverage, the next step is to file a Claim Petition for Workers’ Compensation. Employees should be aware that there is a timeline for filing this petition, which is 3 years from the date the employee was injured or made sick at work. It is important to note that it is NOT 3 years from the date of the employer’s decision.

If you’ve been injured at work and denied workers’ compensation benefits, the attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell are available to help you today. The petition and appeals process following a denial is lengthy and, at times, complicated. If you are considering appealing your employer’s decision regarding workers’ compensation and want to learn more about your rights and options, call today for a free consultation at (215) 947-6240 or contact us online.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell, LLP, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

Pennsylvania’s Tax Amnesty Program

Beginning in April of 2017, Pennsylvania will begin offering a Tax Amnesty Program to eligible taxpayers. The program is geared toward taxpayers, both individuals and businesses, who owe outstanding taxes. This program will allow eligible taxpayers to ultimately pay less than the total owed to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue if the taxpayer is able to pay the entire amount of the principal tax due.

If the delinquent taxpayer can satisfy the principal tax amount in its entirety, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue will waive all penalties associated with the outstanding balance and also waive one-half of the interest associated with the underlying tax. To participate, taxpayers must file an online amnesty return, file all delinquent tax returns and make the required payment within the 60 day amnesty period.

Timing is critical and inflexible. This amnesty program will only be in effect from April 21 through June 19, 2017. The Department of Revenue will not accept requests for extensions of time to file an amnesty  application, so June 19, 2017, is the absolute cut-off date established by the program as currently written.

The amnesty program is applicable to almost all state taxes. However, failure to take advantage of this program if you are eligible carries significant consequences. After June 19, 2017, when the amnesty window closes, an additional 5 percent penalty will be added to eligible taxpayers who did not participate, and the interest which would otherwise have been cut in half will continue to accumulate. This essentially means eligible taxpayers can either pay less now or owe more down the line.

Pennsylvania had a similar program in 2010. Those taxpayers who participated in the 2010 tax amnesty program are presumed ineligible.

 

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell, LLP, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.