Court to decide if drug use while pregnant is child abuse

Legal Issues

Pennsylvania's highest court will decide whether a woman's use of illegal drugs while pregnant qualifies as child abuse under state law.The Supreme Court recently took up the case of a woman who tested positive for suboxone and marijuana at the time she gave birth early last year at Williamsport Hospital.A county judge ruled that did not qualify as child abuse under the state's Child Protective Services Law, but the intermediate Superior Court said drug use while pregnant can make bodily injury to a child likely after birth.Court records indicate the child spent 19 days in the hospital being treated for drug dependence, exhibiting severe withdrawal symptoms."Mother's actions were deplorable but this court must follow the law," wrote Clinton County Judge Craig Miller in May, ruling the county child welfare agency had not established child abuse occurred.The mother's lawyers argue lawmakers never intended the child protection law to apply to acts during pregnancy."No one thinks using drugs while pregnant is good, but using the criminal justice system and the civil child abuse system to punish people for doing so just makes a bad situation much, much worse," said the woman's lawyer, David S. Cohen.Amanda Beth Browning, lawyer for the Clinton County Department of Children and Youth Services, declined comment.In a filing with Supreme Court, the woman's lawyers said most states, with a few exceptions, "have taken a non-punitive approach to the issue.""Almost every major medical and public health organization has recognized that punishing women for drug use during their pregnancies is counterproductive to public and private health," wrote lawyers for the mother, identified by initials in court records.

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Does a car or truck accident count as a work injury?

If an employee is injured in a car crash while on the job, they are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. “On the job” injuries are not limited to accidents and injuries that happen inside the workplace, they may also include injuries suffered away from an employee’s place of work while performing a job-related task, such as making a delivery or traveling to a client meeting.

Regular commutes to and from work don’t usually count. If you get into an accident on your way in on a regular workday, it’s probably not considered a work injury for the purposes of workers’ compensation.

If you drive around as part of your job, an injury on the road or loading/unloading accident is likely a work injury. If you don’t typically drive around for work but are required to drive for the benefit of your employer, that would be a work injury in many cases. If you are out of town for work, pretty much any driving would count as work related. For traveling employees, any accidents or injuries that happen on a work trip, even while not technically working, can be considered a work injury. The reason is because you wouldn’t be in that town in the first place, had you not been on a work trip.

Workers’ compensation claims for truck drivers, traveling employees and work-related injuries that occur away from the job site can be challenging and complex. At Krol, Bongiorno & Given, we understand that many families depend on the income of an injured worker, and we are proud of our record protecting the injured and disabled. We have handled well over 30,000 claims for injured workers throughout the state of Illinois.