Colianni & Colianni, LLC

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Pittsburg Toxic Tort LawyerEven though the steel industry is a vital and necessary part of the American economy, steel mills can be a major source of environmental pollution. If you live near a steel mill, you may be at risk of exposure to harmful pollutants. These pollutants can have a variety of negative health effects. If you or a loved one has been affected by pollution from a steel mill, an experienced environmental exposure attorney can help you pursue compensation.

Types of Pollutants From Steel Mills

Steel mills release a variety of pollutants into the air, water, and soil. These pollutants can include:

  • Heavy metals - Toxic substances such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, zinc, and copper are released when coal is burned to produce energy for steel mills and at other times during the steel manufacturing process. In many cases, "inversion" occurs in which heavy metals in air pollutants settle into the soil. This has been a significant issue in the areas around Pittsburgh due to the region's long history of steel production. Heavy metals can damage the nervous system and cause cancer. They can also build up in the food chain, resulting in health problems for people who eat contaminated fish or other animals.

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Allegheny County Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers

Ethylene oxide is a colorless gas that is used in a variety of industrial processes. It is most commonly used to sterilize medical equipment and other items, although it may have other purposes as well. Unfortunately, exposure to ethylene oxide can result in serious health effects. This is a significant concern to workers in facilities that use toxic chemicals, but due to the release of ethylene oxide into the atmosphere, people in the surrounding communities may be affected as well. This has become a major health issue in many communities throughout the United States, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has specifically noted that people living near facilities in Zelienople and Erie, Pennsylvania may be at risk. 

The Dangers of Ethylene Oxide Exposure

Ethylene oxide is classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This means that exposure to ethylene oxide can increase the risk of developing cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia.

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Pittsburgh Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers

In the United States, people expect to be able to live safely in their homes and minimize risks to their health during their daily lives. Unfortunately, many people are affected by issues that are outside of their control, including toxic substances in the environment. This is a significant issue for people in Allegheny County and Western Pennsylvania. Due to the large number of steel mills and other industrial facilities in the area, multiple types of toxic chemicals have been released into the watershed, increasing the risks of cancer for area residents. Those who have contracted cancer or other conditions that may have been caused by exposure to toxic substances will need to determine their options for pursuing compensation from the companies that were responsible.

Carcinogenic Chemicals in the Pittsburgh Water Supply

The state of Pennsylvania has the third-highest rate of cancer in the United States. Around half of Pennsylvania's residents will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes, and around 20 percent of Pennsylvanians will die of cancer. Allegheny County has even higher rates of cancer than the rest of the state, especially for forms of cancer such as lung cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, colon cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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Pittsburgh personal injury lawyerThere are numerous steel mills, factories, and other industrial plants in the area surrounding Pittsburgh. These plants work with a variety of dangerous chemicals. Unfortunately, this means that toxic chemical exposure may affect people, including workers who handle these chemicals or people in the surrounding communities who absorb harmful substances that are in the air, soil, or water supply. Autoimmune diseases are some of the most serious conditions that can be caused by toxic chemicals, and those who have suffered harm due to harmful chemicals in the environment may be able to take legal action to recover compensation.

What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune diseases are a type of chronic illness in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, tissues, and organs. There are multiple different types of autoimmune diseases, and some conditions that have been linked to the toxic chemicals used in industrial plants include:

  • Thyroid disorders - When the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, this can cause multiple different types of health issues. Graves' disease occurs when the thyroid gland is stimulated into releasing excess hormones into the bloodstream, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis impairs the function of the thyroid gland, resulting in low levels of thyroid hormone. These conditions may be caused by exposure to heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, or arsenic.

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Pittsburgh Personal Injury LawyerThere are a wide variety of toxic substances that can cause people to suffer serious illnesses or other health issues. Americans expect to be protected against exposure to these substances, ensuring that they can live their lives safely. However, there are some cases where manufacturers claim that chemicals are safe to use when these substances are actually harmful. Herbicides and pesticides are a common example of these types of dangerous chemicals, and they are often sprayed on crops in large quantities and used in other ways that can affect workers or people in nearby communities. RoundUp, one of the most commonly-used herbicides, may potentially cause serious harm to those who have experienced high levels of exposure, and victims may be able to take legal action against the manufacturer to address these issues.

Potential Health Risks of RoundUp

The active chemical in RoundUp is known as glyphosate, and it inhibits plant growth. While the manufacturer of RoundUp has claimed that this chemical is safe and non-toxic to humans, studies have found that extended exposure to glyphosate may lead to a number of health issues, including:

  • Cancer - The International Agency for Research on Cancer has categorized glyphosate as a probable carcinogen for humans. RoundUp has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which affects the body’s immune system. 

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pittsburgh-toxic-tort-lawyer.jpgPittsburgh consistently ranks as one of the most polluted areas in the United States. A study performed by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that Allegheny County is in the top 2 percent of counties in the U.S. where residents are at risk of cancer from air pollution. The Pittsburgh area is home to prominent companies in the steel industry, as well as multiple other types of industrial plants. With so many facilities working with toxic chemicals, emissions of these dangerous substances can significantly affect the health of the region’s residents. People who have been affected by these dangerous chemicals may be able to take legal action against companies that have violated environmental regulations through toxic torts.

Industrial Facilities Responsible for Toxic Chemical Emissions

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center has identified the top sources of air pollution in Allegheny County:

  1. ATI Flat Rolled Products - This plant in Brackenridge has been responsible for more chromium emissions than all other facilities in Allegheny County combined. Chromium is a cancer-causing substance that can also cause damage to the respiratory and reproductive systems. The facility has also been responsible for emissions of lead, nickel, cobalt, manganese, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.

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Pittsburgh Wrongful Termination LawyerNobody should have to face discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, far too many employees are subject to harassment and other forms of discrimination based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors. Some of the most serious discrimination cases involve wrongful termination. When an employee is terminated from their job for illegal reasons, their loss of income can cause a great deal of financial difficulty, as well as significant emotional distress. Workers who have been wrongfully terminated will need to understand how they can take legal action against their former employer and address this issue.

Illegal Reasons for the Termination of an Employee

As is true throughout most of the U.S., Pennsylvania is an “at-will employment” state. If an employee does not have a contract or other provisions stating otherwise, either they or their employer may choose to end their employment at any time and for any valid reason. While a person may be fired because of poor job performance, or they may be laid off because an employer has encountered financial difficulties and is no longer able to pay their wages, there are a number of cases when a termination may be illegal. These include:

  • Discrimination - An employee cannot be terminated because of their race, gender, religion, or age. A person cannot be fired because they have a disability or because of pregnancy or marital status. 

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Pittsburgh Toxic Tort AttorneyFirefighters and others who work around fires may be exposed to toxic chemicals due to the use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). This type of firefighting foam may be used to control fires involving substances such as oil, gasoline, or jet fuel, and it can smother flames and cut off their oxygen supply. Many types of AFFF contain chemicals known as PFAS that have been linked with multiple types of serious health issues. Because this issue is an ongoing concern, numerous states have passed laws that limit the use of AFFF and address health concerns related to PFAS.

Recent Changes to State Laws Related to AFFF and PFAS

PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyls) are known as “forever chemicals” that do not break down over time. They can accumulate in the environment, leading to health issues that affect people who are exposed due to chemicals in water or soil. The use of firefighting foam may result in injuries to firefighters, people who work at airports or military bases where oil or jet fuel fires need to be controlled, or people who live near areas where these chemicals may accumulate in the environment. 

To address ongoing concerns about PFAS, several states have passed laws in recent years that address the use of AFFF. These states include:

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Pittsburgh Personal Injury LawyerWorking in an industrial setting can be dangerous. Due to the presence of large, fast-moving machinery, materials heated to extremely high temperatures, and a variety of other dangers, steel mill workers may be at risk of serious injuries in workplace accidents. However, even when the proper safety procedures are followed to prevent these types of accidents, workers may also be at risk of harm due to exposure to toxic substances. Asbestos is one substance that continues to affect workers in steel mills and similar settings, and those who have been exposed to this substance may contract a dangerous form of cancer known as mesothelioma.

Causes of Asbestos Exposure in Steel Mills

For much of the 20th century, asbestos was a widely-used substance. Because it provides good insulation against heat and fire, it was often used in industrial settings, as well as building materials and other products. Once the dangers of asbestos became well-known, it stopped being used in many products. However, facilities that were built before these changes were made may still contain asbestos, putting workers at risk of harm.

There are multiple sources of potential asbestos exposure in steel mills. Some facilities may contain construction materials that were manufactured using asbestos, including cement and floor or ceiling tiles. Asbestos may have been used as insulation for furnaces, boilers, or pipes. A number of machine parts may have contained asbestos, including brake pads on cranes or other pieces of equipment, as well as valves, pumps, and other machine parts. Any products containing asbestos may put workers at risk of exposure, and a person may inhale asbestos fibers in the air or absorb them through their skin. A person’s family members may also be exposed to asbestos fibers that accumulate on their clothing.

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Wexford Personal Injury LawyerIndustrial workers face a number of risks on a daily basis. When working around large, heavy equipment, the possibility of injuries is ever-present, and workers follow multiple safety practices to prevent accidents. However, in addition to the possibility of injuries in workplace accidents, workers at steel mills and similar facilities may also suffer harm after being exposed to toxic chemicals. These exposures may occur because of chemical spills, but in many cases, ongoing exposure over multiple months or years of work can lead to significant health issues. Workers who have been affected by toxic chemicals will need to understand their legal options and determine whether they can receive compensation for their injuries.

Dangerous Chemicals That May Cause Harm to Workers in Steel Mills

Those who work in the metal production industry deal with hazardous chemicals and substances on a regular basis. Some chemicals that may cause workers to suffer injuries include:

  • Arsenic - Compounds containing this substance may be used in steel production, potentially exposing workers to health risks. Inorganic arsenic compounds are carcinogenic, and they may lead to lung cancer, bladder cancer, skin cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, or prostate cancer. Exposure to low levels of arsenic over time can lead to issues such as damage to the liver and kidneys, decreased red and white blood cells, and an increased risk of infections.

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Wexford, PA dog bite lawyer

In 2019, it is estimated that there are roughly 63 million dogs that are designated as pets in the United States. Looking further into that number, around 36 percent of households own at least one canine. Known as man’s best friend, dogs are expected to be playful animals; however, personal injuries can occur from dog bites. A victim may seek to hold a canine's owner responsible for dog bite injuries. In many cases, a premises liability claim may be brought against a property owner to recover compensation for the damages suffered in these types of injuries.

Consequences of Dog Bites

Being bitten by a dog is a fairly common occurrence, but nearly one in five people who suffer a wound after being bitten by a dog have to seek medical attention. Injuries that arise from a dog bite can range from bruises and cuts to broken bones, loss of limbs, or bacterial infections. Out of the diseases that may be contracted from a dog bite, the most common include rabies, Capnocytophaga bacteria, Pasteurella, MRSA, and tetanus.

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Pittsburgh car accident injury lawyer

In 2015, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that a total of 17,250 car accidents occurred daily. Many factors go into determining why car accidents happen, and most have to do with the driver. However, studies have shown that cars with specific features are more likely to get into an accident. These aspects include factors like make and model, the year the vehicle was manufactured, and the types of the car itself. A factor that surprised researchers was the color of a car could increase the chances of the driver being in an accident.

Not the Color You Would Imagine

The common perception among the public is that red, fast, and sports-like cars are more likely to be involved in an accident. This is due to the stereotypes that owners of red cars want to be noticed, are more adventurous, and thus are higher risk-takers. But a 20-year study in 2013 found black cars are 47 percent more likely to be in accidents. Why? The first reason is the most obvious. Black cars are a preferred color among car buyers. This can be due to the mystique or sense of mystery that the color black can hold for some people. It is the common color chosen by celebrities because it represents a high social status or is also considered a “rebellious” color. 

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Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyer

For nearly two-and-half centuries in Pennsylvania, medical malpractice lawsuits could be brought against doctors in any region in which the doctors practiced medicine. However, in 2003, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court changed the rule and limited the venue options to the county in which the injury occurred. The rule change was due to growing fears that plaintiffs could “venue shop,” which could potentially cause medical insurance rates to increase and lead doctors to leave the commonwealth. Since plaintiffs could file their lawsuits in any county where the physician worked, they may have chosen to pursue legal action in an area where juries were more likely to find the doctor to be at fault.

Recently, the issue was reopened when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court suggested reinstating the previous rules governing venue selection. Those who are considering taking legal action for medical malpractice may wonder whether these rules should be reverted and whether the proposed changes would benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania.

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Allegheny County car accident injury attorney

Car accidents are among the leading causes of death and injury in the United States and much of the world. Individuals who have been in a motor vehicle collision can face both health, financial, and emotional trauma for months and even years after the event. Auto accidents can cause significant harm to the body, especially in the head, neck, and back, possibly also resulting in prolonged pain and the inability to perform daily functions. The resulting medical bills can put an individual in the financial red zone, and many people report suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after having been involved in a motor vehicle accident. 

Car Accident Statistics 

According to studies, there are certain places and times of day in which collisions are most likely to occur. If you wish to prevent being in or causing a car accident, it is best to be more cautious if you are driving in the following locations or during the times listed below:

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Wexford, PA industrial work injury attorney

Industrial workers, on average, have to work in more dangerous environments than most other fields. The likelihood of a worker being involved or witnessing an industrial accident that can result in severe injury or even death is high, which is why every effort should be made to make workplaces safer by creating safety guidelines and following common sense standards. If you are an industrial worker, and you are concerned about your safety and the safety of your coworkers, here are a few simple tips to make your workplace safer:

Keep Floors Clear and Clean

In the heavy industrial field, injuries can occur if areas are not kept clean and free from clutter. Slip and falls are among the most common industrial accidents. Slipping on slick floors can result in back, shoulder, or neck injuries or damage to other parts of the body. This can potentially lead to a lifetime of pain and the inability to live a fulfilling life. Such injuries are easily avoidable by cleaning up messes as soon as they happen. Be sure to encourage your workplace to keep cleaning equipment in all sectors of your workplace so that such messes do not accumulate. 

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Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer

Ride-sharing services have grown in popularity significantly over the last several years. This is primarily due to the ease of use and the perceived high standard of service offered by companies such as Uber and Lyft. However, as with any vehicle-oriented service, there is the potential for car accidents while on the road. The ride-share driver might cause an accident due to negligence, or an accident may happen due to the fault of another driver. In such a situation, determining who is at fault is important. If the ride-share driver caused the crash, is the driver or the ride-sharing company held legally responsible? These are important questions to consider if someone uses this type of transportation and is involved in an accident as a passenger.

How Does Ride-Sharing Work?

Ride-sharing services are entities that bring drivers and passengers together. Specifically, these services allow the rider to request transportation in real time. Once the user of a ride-sharing app requests a ride (typically from his or her phone), the nearest ride-share driver receives the user’s contact information and location, and proceeds to the user’s destination to provide transportation.

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Allegheny County personal injury lawyer

For many people, posting on social media is now a daily habit. They post and share videos, images, and comments talking about good news, bad news, and all sorts of events that are occurring in their lives. This is a harmless activity most of the time, but unfortunately, some people seem to have forgotten that social media posting is a public affair, not a private one. They share things they should not, which could put them in legal jeopardy. One such example of this is when a person posts comments or photos after they are involved in a car accident.

How Social Media Can Be Used Against You

It can be surprising to see how people forget that social media is the stage for a public conversation. Even if you have set your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to private, what you say and do can still leak out. Further, what you post can create misconceptions that can be used against you in a legal proceeding.

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Allegheny County premises liability attorney

Premises liability civil lawsuits come about from injuries that were caused due to unsafe conditions on someone else's property or real estate. In other words, the owner or manager of a property failed to follow specific rules or guidelines, or their negligence led to another person being harmed. This can include things like unsafe working conditions at construction sites, accidents in industrial warehouses, or even a simple slip and fall in a grocery store. Whatever the case, individuals who are injured in such circumstances may be entitled to compensation. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries due to unsafe conditions at your workplace, on commercial property, at someone's home, or on public premises, follow these steps so you can recover what you deserve:

  1. Check Yourself for Injury. Following a slip and fall, some people may get up and dust themselves off immediately following the fall, downplaying the severity of their injuries. However, some injuries may present symptoms until later. If you have taken a nasty fall or a hit to the head or body, then it is advisable to seek medical attention.

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Allegheny County medical malpractice lawyer

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is considering retraction of decades-old restraints on medical malpractice lawsuits. The decision to do so could make it easier for plaintiffs to sue their doctor if they feel negligence and wrongdoing were committed. Meanwhile, some say such a move would have catastrophic consequences and upend the system. 

Background of the Issue

In Pennsylvania during the 1990s and early 2000s, the issue of medical malpractice was hotly contested. Back then, the number of civil lawsuits filed against doctors was much higher than it is now. The reason for this was that state law allowed for lawsuits to be commenced anywhere the plaintiff or defendant had a personal or professional connection. The attorney for the plaintiff would typically select a district where they were most likely to get a favorable jury. However, many thought this practice was unfair to doctors, calling it "venue shopping," and claiming that it encouraged unnecessary lawsuits against medical practitioners.

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pittsburgh personal Injury lawyerThe ability to prove negligence is one of the most critical factors needed to win compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. It must be proven that the at-fault person had a particular duty of care to you and that they breached that duty. In other words, you have to prove that the party you want to sue acted negligently in some way and that you suffered substantial injuries as a direct result of that negligence. 

Examples of Negligence or Breach of Duty of Care

Car accidents are one of the most common bases for a personal injury lawsuit. Drivers have a duty of care to other people on the street to drive with reasonable care and obey traffic laws. If a pedestrian lawfully crosses a street on a green light in a designated crosswalk and a driver on the cross street runs a red light and strikes the pedestrian, the driver would be considered at fault. 

Similarly, a business owner has a duty of care to their customers to maintain their facilities in a reasonably safe condition. If a customer suffered a severe head injury because an improperly-secured shelf fell, the store owner would likely be held liable for the customer’s injuries because they had a duty of care to make sure that their premises were free of dangerous hazards.

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