What To Do After a Car Accident in Philadelphia

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If you’ve been involved in a car accident, whether minor or serious, you know that the aftermath can be a challenging time. The lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have created the following list that we hope will be helpful to you in those first moments after a car accident. Feel free to bookmark this page or print it out to keep in your glove box in case of an emergency. 

1. Stay at the Scene

A hit-and-run is against the law, and you may face consequences even if the accident is minor and did not result in any injuries. Don’t run the risk of running afoul of the law; stay at the scene until you are given the all clear.

2. Check for Injuries

If occupants of either vehicle sustain any injuries in the crash, they should receive medical attention. It is a good idea to keep a first-aid kit in your vehicle at all times in case of minor injuries, but you should summon an ambulance for any severe injuries. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and call emergency services; it may save a life.

3. Call the Police

If the accident is not serious and you happen to have the non-emergency number, you can use it to summon the police, but there’s also nothing wrong with calling 911 for even a minor accident. To make an insurance claim later, you will probably need an official accident report from the police, so don’t hesitate to involve law enforcement, regardless of the severity of the accident. 

4. Make a Report

Tell the police exactly what happened to the best of your ability. Stick to the facts, and include as much detail as possible. However, be careful to avoid saying anything that could be construed as taking responsibility for the collision. Even saying “I’m sorry” could be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Let the authorities and the insurance companies determine who was at fault.

5. Gather Data

This involves exchanging insurance information with the other driver, but it also includes identifying and obtaining contact information from any witnesses, noting the responding officer’s name and badge number, and documenting the scene of the accident. You should obtain the location’s address, if possible, or at least be able to name nearby cross streets. It is also a good idea to take pictures of the scene if you can do so safely.

6. Contact Your Insurance Company

You should do this as soon as possible to start the claims process. In many cases, it is also advisable to hire a Philadelphia car accident lawyer to represent your interests after a car accident. The lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can provide you with more information during your initial consultation, which is always provided free of charge.

 

What Not To Do After an Accident

There are a few important things to avoid saying or doing after being involved in a car accident. These include:

  • Not calling the police

    In some cases, people believe it is okay to just exchange information with the other driver and forgo calling the police. Not calling the police, however, means you will not receive an official accident report to provide as evidence of what happened. 

  • Avoid recorded statements:

    Insurance companies may try to reach out to you after the accident to ask for a recorded statement. We advise our clients to avoid doing that until they have obtained proper legal representation. Remember, an insurance company’s primary objective is to pay you as little as possible. As the victim, you deserve compensation that will cover your medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, and property damage. 

  • Avoid waiting too long before seeking recovery on your claim

    In most states, there is a set time period for accident victims to sue for personal injuries or wrongful death cases. If the time limit is surpassed, your claim will not receive any coverage. 

The attorney’s at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you meet all the required deadlines, and gather the evidence you need to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 1-866-333-7715 or reach out online by filling out our form for your free consultation. 

 

Top Ten Reasons for Car Accidents in 2020 and 2021

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In order to receive compensation after a car accident, you will need to show that the person who caused your accident was negligent, and that their negligent actions led to the crash. Below, we’ve compiled the top ten reasons for a car accident in 2020 and moving into 2021, to help you gain a better understanding of why accidents happen and how to prevent them. 

 

1. COVID-19 and Car Accidents 

The global pandemic caused the number of vehicles on the road to dramatically decrease in 2020, so it’s natural to assume there would be a decrease in traffic accidents as well. But in fact, traffic-related fatalities rose by 4.6% nationwide. Philadelphia County reported 120 traffic related fatalities in 2020, up 60% from 2019. 

This rise in fatalities may be in part because the COVID-19 crisis led to increased alcohol consumption, potentially causing more drunk drivers. In addition, the decrease in vehicles caused less congestion on roadways, which allowed drivers who remained on the road to drive more recklessly.

 

2. Speeding

Speed limits are carefully determined by elected officials in conjunction with traffic engineers, and are put in place to keep people safe while driving. This is because speed is the number one factor in determining if an accident will be fatal. 

 

3. Drunk Driving

Intoxication, whether it be from alcohol or other substances, can impair an individual’s reaction time, motor functioning, and decision making. Drunk driving is another major contributing factor in determining if an accident will be fatal. 

 

4. Distracted Driving 

While drunk driving leads to a higher risk of fatalities, distracted driving is one of the top causes of accidents across the United States. 

Distracted driving can include:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Putting on makeup
  • Turning to talk to other passengers
  • Adjusting the navigation system

 

5. Texting and Driving

The most common form of distracted driving is texting and driving. Texting involves a visual distraction (looking at your phone), a manual distraction (typing), and a cognitive distraction (reading the text). It may seem like only a few seconds, but even 5 seconds of looking away from the road while driving at 55mph is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. 

 

6. Drowsy Driving

Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. In fact, in controlled studies, drunk and drowsy driving resulted in a similar number of crashes. 

 

7. Inexperienced Drivers

An experienced driver knows to keep a safe distance while following another car, as well as to check their blind spots while changing lanes. But an inexperienced driver may not remember to glance over their shoulder into the area their mirror cannot see, and may also inadvertently tailgate or fail to yield when they should. 

 

8. Aggressive Driving

Changing lanes rapidly, tailgating, or illegal passing of other cars may be the result of inexperience, but it can also be caused by an experienced, but aggressive driver. In Philadelphia, around 36% of traffic-related deaths are the result of aggressive driving.  

 

9. Road Rage

Aggressive driving may or may not be associated with road rage, which occurs when a driver gets angry at another vehicle on the road. This can result in behaviors like cutting in front of a car aggressively, using verbal insults, or threatening another driver.  

 

10. Poor Vehicle Maintenance

If a driver does not take proper care of their car, it can easily create a dangerous situation. Mechanical failures can occur that endanger the driver and other cars on the road, such as

 

What To Do if You Were Involved in a Car Accident 

Even if you take every precaution in the world, it’s impossible to prevent every car accident from occurring. If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit to cover your medical bills, vehicle repairs, and collect compensation for your pain and suffering. 

The Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt understand how difficult the aftermath of a serious car accident can be, and are ready to fight for you at every step of the way. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-866-333-7715 or reach out by filling out our form.

 

What Should You Do After a Truck Accident

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If you or your loved one were injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, you know firsthand how devastating this type of accident can be. Semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, making them roughly 20 times the size of a small passenger car. Their large size means they can take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, with even greater distances on wet or slippery roads. The sheer size and weight of a truck mean any encounter with them has the possibility to cause catastrophic injuries.

In 2018, large trucks and buses were involved in over 5,000 fatal crashes, and the number of large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes has increased by 48-percent since 2009. If you were injured in an accident involving a large truck, there are several steps you can take to ensure you receive fair compensation that covers the cost of your medical bills and auto repairs. Keep reading for our top tips on how to protect your legal rights after a trucking accident. 

Call for Help

Your first priority should be to assess your safety, as well as the safety of your passengers. Even if your injuries seem minor, you should immediately call 911 and request an ambulance. You should always be examined by a doctor, as internal injuries and head trauma can sometimes go undetected and cause greater damage later on. You will also want to get a police report, which will be pivotal in documenting and proving your case

Take Photos at the Accident Scene

Take shots from multiple angles, and be sure to include pictures of your vehicle, the truck, your injuries, and your passengers’ injuries. If you are unable to take photos yourself, have a trusted friend or family member take the pictures for you. Taking photos will be especially important if the weather may have been a factor in visibility, or in making the roads slick. 

Collect Witness Information and Other Documentation

Other things you should try to collect at the scene are:

  • The names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails of all drivers and witnesses 
  • Pictures of the truck driver’s insurance cards
  • Pictures of the truck driver’s license
  • The name and contact information of the trucking company the driver works for
  • The trucks license plate number, make and model, color, and any other identifying information

Leave Your Vehicle As It Is

Make sure to communicate to your mechanic that they are not to perform any repairs until the vehicle has been appraised by the insurance company. Just like injuries to your body, your car may seem fine, but it’s best to get the opinion of a trusted mechanic to check for hidden damages that may not be evident at first glance. 

What NOT To Do After a Trucking Accident

It is important that you don’t admit fault after a trucking accident. If you are partially responsible, a skilled lawyer can help you understand the extent to which you may be liable, and help you find ways to reduce your liability. 

You’re also under no obligation to talk with the insurance companies that will call you. Politely, but firmly, let them know “I am working with a lawyer, and they will reach out to you”. Insurance adjusters are notorious for offering small settlements in the hopes that you will accept readily, not realizing that you can fight for better compensation. 

Contact an Attorney

This is of the utmost importance because you can be sure that the trucking company already has specialized attorneys to minimize their own liability. A truck accident attorney working on your behalf will conduct an investigation, gather and protect key evidence, and handle communications with all other parties involved. This also lets the trucking company and their insurer know you mean serious business, and they are more likely to offer you a better settlement offer. 

Trucking accidents can be much more complicated than accidents involving two personal vehicles, as multiple other parties may be involved. These may include the trucking company, the driver’s employer, or the manufacturer of the goods being transported. The skilled lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you determine if you have a case, and who is ultimately liable for your accident, with a free consultation. Call us today at 1-866-333-7715 or reach out by filling out our form

 

Bristol Township – Two Injured by Space Heater

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Two Bristol Township residents suffered significant burns and were airlifted to Temple Hospital after an electric space heater started a fire that caused significant damage to their home. Fire department officials arrived around 4:00 a.m. and stated that no smoke alarms were sounding when they arrived. Thankfully, several neighbors had woken the couple up by banging on their doors and windows, allowing them to escape the blaze. 

Bristol Township Fire Marshal Kevin Dippolito stated that it was not clear whether the electric space heater was too close to something flammable, or if a defect/malfunction was responsible for the fire. Whatever the cause was, the fact remains that space heaters continue to pose fire hazards in homes across the United States, and these malfunctions leading to destructive and sometimes deadly fires are sadly all too common. The attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you determine if your devastating space heater fire was caused by a faulty product, and if so, who should be held liable for damages.

Why Are Space Heaters Dangerous?

Over half of all home heating fire deaths start because the heating equipment is placed too close to something flammable, such as bedding or furniture. Other factors that can lead to fires are failing to clean the heater, or heaters that are left unattended. But between 15 to 30 percent of space heater fires are caused by mechanical or electrical malfunctions.

The safest heaters are ones that have fire-preventative features such as automatic shut-offs and long cords, and these models are usually certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). But a UL certification is not legally required, and there is no current legal requirement that space heater manufacturers install critical safety features on all of their models. 

 

How Many Fires Are Started by Space Heaters?

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) states that heating equipment, such as space heaters, is the number one cause of fires in homes. Between 2012-2016, there were an average of 52,050 fires every year caused by heating equipment in the United States, resulting in 490 deaths and one billion dollars in property damage. Of these, approximately 1,200 fires were caused by portable electric space heaters specifically.

The winter months of December, January and February are the most dangerous months for home heating fires in the United States, and they usually occur sometime between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Early morning fires, like the one in Bristol township, are the most uncommon but are also the most deadly time for a space heater fire to occur. In fact, nearly half of all fatalities due to fires caused by heating equipment occur between midnight and 8:00 a.m.

Who Is Liable for a Fire Caused by a Space Heater? 

Understanding who is liable for a fire caused by a space heater is a complicated question that will ultimately rely on the specific circumstances of your case. Liable parties may include:

  • The manufacturer of the space heater
  • The manufacturer of defective parts in your space heater
  • The retailer who sold you your space heater

All space heaters should be placed a minimum of three feet away from anything that can burn according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and must be turned off when unattended. Consumers are also advised to always plug a space heater directly into a wall socket, and never to use a power strip or extension cord to plug in a space heater. But even when all these precautions are in place, catastrophic fires can still happen when using a space heater.

If you or your loved ones have experienced a fire caused by an electric space heater, you deserve answers and compensation for your losses. If the manufacturer or retailer is liable, you may have recourse to file a wrongful death or product liability lawsuit against them. The skilled attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can answer your questions with a free consultation, and help you begin your recovery process. Fill out our online form here, or call us at 1-866-869-5318 to speak with someone today. 

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Increasing Along With Rising Opioid Abuse Nationwide

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From 2004 to 2014, health officials began to sound the alarm, as the number of children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) increased five-fold. Yet the problem has only gotten worse in recent years, and 24 states across the country are now reporting increases of 100% or more for infants with drug withdrawal symptoms from 2010 to 2017. 

Opioid abuse in the United States was already reaching record levels in 2019, and the ongoing global pandemic has only worsened the crisis. The opioid epidemic has been aided by doctors inappropriately prescribing pain medication to patients who do not need it, and negligence on the part of drug makers. Although the coronavirus has dominated the headlines over the last year, the attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have been closely following developments with the ongoing opioid crisis in an effort to keep consumers informed of the latest trends. 

 

What Is NAS?

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is the term used for a group of symptoms that can appear after a baby is exposed to opioids or other substances while in the womb. Once diagnosed, infants who receive treatment often get better within a few days, but NAS can also cause lifelong problems for the infant’s health and development. 

NAS can be caused by substances other than opioids, such as sleeping pills or antidepressants. It can also be caused by street drugs like heroin, and prescription opioids such as:

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
  • Methadone
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Morphine
  • Tramadol
  • Buprenorphine

How Does a Baby Get NAS?

When a baby is still in the womb, they absorb their mother’s nutritional and medicinal intake through the placenta. Powerful drugs like opioids easily cross through the placenta and affect the unborn child. This can leave an infant with a chemical dependency on whatever drugs their mother is taking, just like the chemical dependency that adults develop when becoming addicted to a substance. 

When the baby is born, they will no longer receive a supply of opiates from their mother, and they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, just like an adult would. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last days to weeks depending on treatment and severity. 

What Are the Symptoms of NAS?

Symptoms vary from case to case, depending on how frequently the mother used opiates, the baby’s gestational age (how many weeks old the baby was when it was born), or what drugs were taken. Common symptoms can include:

  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Excessive fussiness
  • Breathing problems
  • Poor feeding or slow weight gain
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Lots of yawning and trouble sleeping

Recent Increases in NAS

JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) reported in early 2021 that NAS has increased by 82% from 2010 to 2017, while mothers with an opioid diagnosis during pregnancy have increased by 131% in the same period. 

The opioid crisis has continued to worsen over the past decade, with opioids causing nearly 47,000 deaths in 2018. Philadelphia has been hit particularly hard by this crisis, with Pennsylvania seeing over 4,000 deaths in the same year. Pennsylvania ranks as the 8th hardest-hit state in the country for rates of NAS, with nearly 15 out of every 1000 newborns hospitalized for NAS.

 

Experience Matters

Multiple studies have linked opioid exposure in the womb to physical and cognitive issues later in life. The effects of NAS can cause lifelong issues for these infants and their families, and the costs of treatment over a lifetime can be astronomical. Yet reports keep coming in of doctors and pharmacies overprescribing opioids, with full knowledge of the dangers they cause. 

The attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have successfully brought lawsuits against companies who tried to illegally profit off of opiates, including taking part in a $225 million lawsuit against INSYS Therapeutics, after INSYS paid kickbacks and engaged in other illegal marketing tactics to promote sales of its fentanyl spray, Subsys. This kind of experience is critical in bringing a successful wrongful death, medical malpractice, or qui tam lawsuit against a major pharmaceutical company or medical practice. Contact us for a free consultation today by filling out our form or by calling us directly at 1-866-521-0865.

Serious Car Accidents Remained High During COVID-19 Pandemic, While Minor Crashes Dropped Drastically

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A doctor takes a nasal swab from a patient at a drive-in coronavirus testing clinic Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the nation’s way of life. One example of this can be seen in the amount of traffic on the nation’s roadways. When people are commuting as normal, there are certain times with elevated levels of traffic. However, now that many people are suffering a lack of work and work schedules and routines have been changed to adapt to necessary coronavirus precautionary procedures, the amount of traffic on the road has decreased.

Researchers have been looking into whether these altered traffic routines have resulted in any changes to traffic accidents. While it’s clear that the number of cars on the nation’s roads has dropped considerably as a result of the coronavirus and related shutdowns, research has suggested that the number of serious accidents, injuries, and fatalities has largely remained level.

In the fall of 2020, researchers from the University of Missouri investigated traffic patterns as they changed during the lockdown period in several states. They were looking into whether the reduced amount of vehicles on the road reduced the number of car crashes and their seriousness. They performed an analysis using data from the Statewide Traffic Accident Records System. This system logged nearly 2,300 traffic accidents on Missouri roads from January through May.

To determine whether or not the shutdowns affected the number of car accidents, the researchers categorized the period from March 23 to May 3 as the shutdown period. According to their findings, the number of daily accidents on the road was reduced, falling from 17.9 to 14.4 incidents per day. They also found that there was a significant drop in the rate of collisions resulting in minor or no injuries, dropping from 14.5 to 10.8 incidents per day. Unfortunately, despite these reductions in crashes, the rate of serious and fatal accidents increased from 3.4 per day to 3.7 per day during the lockdown.

The researchers hypothesized that there could be a number of reasons for these conflicting results. One possible factor is that the more clear highways allowed dangerous drivers to speed more easily, leading to an elevation in crashes at high speed. These high-speed crashes are naturally more likely to lead to serious injuries and deaths. Other possible factors are reduced policing and an increase in the speed of commercial vehicles.

There have been previous studies that analyzed the effects of COVID-19 on traffic and the results supported the theory that open roads resulted in a change in driving behavior, with the drivers increasing the vehicle’s speed. INRIX, an analytics company that focused on driving behavior, also released a study that showed that the speed of the average driver increased by 75% on highways when traffic dropped from the lockdowns. They also concluded that these higher driving speeds could lead to more serious crashes.

Further supporting the conclusion that increased speeds are the cause of the increase in serious crashes, transportation officials in New York City reported a 60% increase in the number of speeding tickets from speed cameras in March when compared to the previous year. In Washington D.C., there was a 20% increase in the number of speeding tickets issued, with officials reporting that the number of drivers found going over the limit by more than 20 miles per hour also increased by almost 40%.

What we can see from these studies and their conclusions is that speed plays a major factor in the number of serious accidents. Even if the roads look clear, you should be defensive when driving.

Partner Jim McEldrew Featured on Who’sWho Philly Labor Show

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Partner Jim Mceldrew was featured on union talk-show Who’sWho in Philly Labor Show on Dec.8th hosted by Joe Dougherty. The show, featured on WWDB recognizes and celebrates those who serve and make a difference in the lives of working families, injury victims, the community, and charitable endeavors throughout greater Philadelphia.

Listen to it by following this link: Who’sWho in Philly Labor Show Feat. Jim McEldrew

In the extensive interview, Mr. McEldrew takes a deep dive into the history of the American Railroad system and how the precursors to workers comp got set up, explaining the how’s and why’s of how it functions in the modern-day. He fields some questions about labor injuries and gives some guidance to common questions that railroad workers and other laborers often have.

Jim goes into detail about how the fallout from COVID-19 has affected his business, his lawsuits, and his clients, and how little changes he made in the past ended up protecting his business when the worst happened with the sudden 2020 COVID lockdowns. The idea of safety has changed throughout 2020, and Jim guides Joe and his listeners through the ins and outs of unsafe working conditions due to COVID-19, especially those in regards to union workers and labor forces, as these are the workers who are at the highest risk for the virus and who deserve to be defended the most.

Joe also Mr. McEldrew talk about nursing homes during the pandemic, and how COVID has deeply affected the most vulnerable of American citizens, the elderly. Many complexities have risen up throughout the healthcare and the law professions during 2020, and Jim McEldrew often works at the intersections of these fields, doing his best to bring justice to those who did not receive the proper protection throughout a difficult and convoluted year.

Jim talks about his many years of experience within the labor industry, why he is so passionate about labor workers and unions, and how he ended up working so closely with them for so long and will continue to for years to come!

Joe Dougherty and Jim McEldrew’s full interview again can be found here: Who’sWho in Philly Labor Show Feat. Jim McEldrew, hosted by WWDB, where they are joined by Robyn Lewison of Healthmark Enterprises.

Railroad Crossing Accidents Targeted By Nationwide NHTSA Campaign

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Recently, highway safety officials from federal agencies have started a multi-million dollar awareness campaign to educate people on the dangers associated with train crossings. They’re doing this partly in reaction to the latest study on railroad crossing accidents, which showed a greater need for efforts to reduce the number of resulting injuries and deaths.

“Stop. Trains Can’t.” is a campaign running nationwide as part of a joint effort by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). With a budget of over $6 million, funding is being spent to raise awareness on the dangers of railroad crossings by spreading the message via advertisements on digital, radio, and social media channels. The advertisements will urge drivers to be alert to railroad crossing warning devices, like descending gates or flashing lights, that show when a train is nearing. 

The two agencies will be targeting their ads at several areas in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee, and Texas, where there are an elevated number of higher-risk railroad crossings and fatal collisions. In 2019, accidents at railway crossings led to over 900 deaths. This was an increase on the previous year’s numbers by over 10%. Officials have asserted that these recent numbers are the highest levels recorded in over a decade. 

Why Trains Are So Dangerous

Part of the reason for such elevated death rates and the reason that the campaign is so important is that, according to figures from the NHTSA, a crash involving a train is nearly 20 times more likely to be fatal than an accident with another vehicle. There are a variety of causes for the elevated danger posed by railways, but the primary cause of danger is the massive force caused by the impact of a train, which can weigh anywhere from 4,000 to 20,000 tons.

Not only does the massive size of a train mean the damage from an impact involving one will be massive, but it also means that the train itself is less able to avoid the collision. A train can require more than one mile of the railway to stop, meaning that a train will not be able to stop itself from hitting a vehicle in its way, even if the emergency brakes are used. When you combine this with the fact that trains aren’t maneuverable and can’t turn to avoid a crash, it is entirely up to the operator of the motor vehicle to ensure that they heed warning signs and stay out of the train’s path.

Steps to Reduce Car Collisions

A talking point for the campaign is that the majority of railway crossing fatalities could be avoided if drivers took more precautions around railways. They’re promoting a series of proactive steps that the public should make when nearing railroad crossings to reduce the risk of collision and injury. They say that drivers should:

  • Stop, look both ways, and listen for trains because trains have the right of way and are unable to stop
  • Ensure that they have adequate room to cross the tracks before attempting to cross the railway
  • Stop 5 yards away from the any crossing gates so there’s no chance of crossing entering the track
  • Never ignore crossing alarms or attempt to cross when the gate is lowering
  • Allow the gate to fully raise and signals to stop entirely before crossing
  • Consider the possibility that there is more than one train passing

The agencies involved in this outreach campaign believe that if drivers follow these simple steps, fatalities around the country could be greatly reduced.

McEldrew Young Partner Eric L. Young Named “Lawyer of the Year” for 2020 by the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund

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The law firm of McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is pleased to announce that its co-founder and name partner, Eric L. Young, was honored as one of two “Lawyers of the Year” for 2020 at the 20th Annual Conference & Awards Ceremony of the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund (“TAF”). TAF also named James E. Miller of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP, as a recipient of the award. TAF is the nation’s preeminent organization dedicated to combatting fraud against the government and advocating for stronger whistleblower protections. It also serves as a significant resource for whistleblowers and their attorneys who bring actions under the federal and state False Claims Acts, as well as the whistleblower programs of the IRS, SEC and CFTC.

Mr. Young and Mr. Miller were honored for their groundbreaking work representing three whistleblowers in two successful qui tam False Claims Act cases against two of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers − Novartis and Teva. Both cases were hard-fought and required substantial investments of time and resources for both law firms. In total, more than 100 depositions were taken across the nation, and over $6 million were advanced for expert fees and investigatory expenses in both cases.

Read more here

Novartis Agrees to Pay $678 Million to Settle Allegations of Illegal Kickbacks Involving Several of the Company’s Cardiovascular Drugs

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Attorney Eric L. Young Represents Whistleblower Oswald Bilotta in One of the Largest Ever Recoveries in a Health Care Fraud Case Brought Under the Qui Tam Provisions of the False Claims Act

PHILADELPHIA, July 1, 2020 — Attorney Eric. L. Young announced today that Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (“Novartis”) has agreed to settle alleged violations of the False Claims Act based on a qui tam complaint filed by whistleblower Oswald Bilotta, who is represented by McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt, Attorneys-at-Law (“McEldrew Young”), and Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP (“SFMS”).

“Today’s announcement puts the pharmaceutical industry on further notice that offering or paying unlawful remuneration to health care providers will have costly consequences,” said Eric Young, managing partner of McEldrew Young’s whistleblower practice. “The days are over for drug manufacturers who routinely provide incentives to doctors as a means of increasing the number of prescriptions written. There is no legitimate reason why drug manufacturers should take doctors to five-star restaurants, major sporting events or extravagant fishing excursions,” Mr. Young added.

Mr. Bilotta’s original whistleblower complaint was filed under seal in January 2011, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and alleged that Novartis’ Cardiovascular Diseases (“CV”) Division engaged in a variety of unlawful marketing schemes, as well as violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a – 7b(b). On April 26, 2013, the Department of Justice announced that the United States had intervened in the action and filed a complaint in intervention. In the seven years since, McEldrew Young and SFMS have worked hand in hand with the U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of New York to further substantiate Mr. Bilotta’s allegations through lengthy discovery and extensive legal arguments.

Both the United States’ and the whistleblower’s complaints alleged that Novartis had fraudulently billed Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and other federal and state-funded health care programs. As part of the scheme, Novartis allegedly spent millions of dollars on incentive programs to doctors who steered patients toward drugs from Novartis’ CV Division in exchange for illegal kickbacks. The drugs implicated in the alleged kickback scheme, included Lotrel, Diovan, Diovan HCT, Tekturna, Tekturna HCT, Exforge, Exforge HCT, Valturna, Tekamlo, and Starlix.

The alleged kickbacks violated the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-33, as well as analogous state and local laws, because government-funded health care programs reimbursed many of the prescriptions written by the doctors who allegedly received kickbacks. Eric Young noted that “U.S. taxpayers are often the biggest victims of pharmaceutical sales and marketing fraud because it increases the cost of health care for everyone — precious Medicare and Medicaid dollars are squandered due to corporate greed rather than being spent for the public good.”

Whistleblower Bilotta is a former Novartis sales representative from Long Island, New York, who identified and reported alleged unethical and illegal conduct by Novartis. Mr. Bilotta was also instrumental in identifying many of the physicians who allegedly accepted illicit financial incentives in exchange for prescribing the company’s drugs. The allegations set forth in Mr. Bilotta’s complaint detail how Novartis provided doctors with a wide array of inducements, including meals at top restaurants, trips to sporting events, and chartered fishing excursions. Many of these events were held under the guise of “educational programs” where doctors were paid to purportedly provide medical information to their peers.

“Mr. Bilotta has demonstrated remarkable courage and perseverance in coming forward with evidence of Novartis’ alleged wrongful conduct and seeing the case to its final resolution after nearly a decade,” said Mr. Young.

For Novartis, the past is prologue as it relates to the announcement of today’s settlement. Remarkably, less than four months before the original whistleblower complaint was filed in this case, Novartis entered into a settlement agreement with the United States government where it agreed to pay nearly $422 million in fines and penalties, both criminal and civil, to resolve similar allegations that it paid kickbacks to prescribers of certain other Novartis drugs.

As the managing partner of McEldrew Young’s whistleblower practice, Eric Young has established a distinguished record of success. Mr. Young has recovered more than $2 billion dollars for the government on behalf of his whistleblower clients. McEldrew Young represents whistleblowers from across the country and abroad. Many whistleblower cases are brought under the False Claims Act, which allows a private individual, known as a relator, to file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States government against a company that has perpetrated fraud against the government. If a relator successfully recovers funds on behalf of the government, he or she can receive a reward of 15 percent to 30 percent of the civil monetary recovery.

Case citation: United States ex rel. Bilotta v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Corp., S.D.N.Y. 11-CV-00071-PGG.

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