Impairment Ratings Under The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act- IRE Doctor Must Have An Active Clinical Practice Of At Least 20 Hours Per Week

In a great Decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in Verizon Pennsylvania, Inc. v. WCAB (Ketterer), No 1188 CD 2013, the notion that an impairment rating physician must have at least 20 hours of clinical practice per week was affirmed. The insurer in this case tried to modify Claimant’s benefits based on an IRE that came back at less than the 50% threshold. However, when cross examining the IRE physician, Claimant’s counsel learned that the physician didn’t have an active clinical practice at the time, but was merely doing Independent Medical Exams, case evaluations, etc.

The Appeal Board ruled in Claimant’s favor and the Commonwealth Court agreed- pointing to the plain language of Section 306 (a2) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

This is a favorable case for injured workers. The Court upheld the basic principle that the IRE physician must be actively engaged in preventative care and the management of medical conditions.

If you are not familiar with Impairment Ratings under the PA Work Comp Law, they are normally requested within 60 days of the expiration of the receipt by an injured worker of 104 weeks of total disability benefits (full work comp checks for 2 years). Most IREs come in well under 50% impairment which means the injured worker’s checks get capped at 500 weeks. It’s a mechanism for employers/insurer to put a cap on the benefits and see a “light at the end of the tunnel.”

For more info about PA Work Comp Law, call Certified Work Comp Specialist, Michael W. Cardamone at (215) 206-9068 or email MyPhillyWorkersComp@Gmail.com for a free and prompt consult.

The Cardamone Law Firm is a rare, boutique law firm which dedicates 100% of its practice to the strong representation of injured workers.

 

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The Cardamone Law Firm, LLC- PA Work Comp Speciality Firm

The Cardamone Law Firm, founded by Philadelphia Work Comp Attorney, Michael W. Cardamone, is now a registered Limited Liability Company, with Cardamone operating as Chief Executive Officer.

Known as MyPhilly WorkersComp Attorney (MyPhilly WorkersComp is a registered trademark), Attorney Cardamone limits his practice to 100% Pennsylvania Work Comp on behalf of injured workers. The Cardamone Law Firm, LLC has offices in Blue Bell and Philadelphia and has plans to expand into the Scranton and Lancaster areas. Cardamone handles cases across Pennsylvania.

Given his 100% specialization in PA Work Comp, Attorney Cardamone is able to give the proper attention his clients need unlike many larger firms where files get shuffled around. When an injured worker hires The Cardamone Law Firm, LLC- Attorney Cardamone works on the case.

For more information about Pennsylvania Work Comp Law or The Cardamone Law Firm, LLC, contact Attorney Cardamone directly at (215) 206-9068 or email MyPhillyWorkersComp@Gmail.com

Consults are always prompt and free.

 

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The Cardamone Law Firm/MyPhilly WorkersComp Wins Big Workers’ Compensation Case For Injured Bus Driver

Michael W. Cardamone, owner of The Cardamone Law Firm, and a Certified Pennsylvania Work Comp Specialist, has secured a significant victory for an injured worker, injured while in the course of employment as a bus driver. The litigation spanned over a year and involved medical expert depositions and lay testimony.

With the victory, Cardamone’s client gets back due wage loss and medical benefits from May 2012 to the present- and ongoing. The Workers’ Compensation Judge, in a 23 page Decision, found Cardamone’s client credible as well as his medical expert’s opinion, while rejecting the medical testimony from the employer’s medical expert.

When you want a specialized PA Work Comp Attorney, call Attorney Cardamone at (215) 206-9068 or email MyPhillyWorkersComp@Gmail.com  There aren’t many attorneys in Pennsylvania who limit their practice to 100% workers’ compensation for injured workers.

Big Firm Skill, Small Firm Access and Attention

MyPhilly WorkersComp

 

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Pennsylvania Work Injury Attorney, Michael W. Cardamone Of The Cardamone Law Firm Wins Big RSD/CRPS Case For Injured Worker

Michael W. Cardamone, known by the trademark MyPhilly WorkersComp, of The Cardamone Law Firm, has secured a significant victory for his client in a case involving Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Cardamone filed a Petition to Review to expand the accepted diagnoses on the Notice of Compensation Payable (“NCP”) which listed his client’s injuries as several fractures, dislocation of the right arm and wrist, and a concussion.  The Notice of Compensation Payable in a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case is a key, controlling document until otherwise amended. Cardamone sought to expand the NCP by adding Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (“RSD/CRPS”) of the right upper extremity. Defendant/Insurer would not agree to this notwithstanding the significant complex of symptoms exhibited by Claimant.

By way of brief summary, Claimant sustained a serious injury on September 6, 2011 while working as an engineer for the Employer, when he fell off a ladder, landing with his right arm wedged between the wall and the floor. He suffered excruciating pain and blacked out. He was admitted to Hahnemann Hospital where he had surgery and was admitted for one week before starting outpatient rehab. He started to have tremors in the affected arm and was re-hospitalized and referred to a neurologist. He had another surgery, to his wrist, in November 2012 due to extensive pain and tremors. He has continued to treat and has unrelenting symptoms including constant, heavy pain, feelings of hotness, needles, and tremors. Claimant’s symptoms are so severe that he cannot eat using his right arm and cannot even cut meat.

Litigation ensued and lasted 14 months. Cardamone presented his client’s testimony which the Workers’ Compensation Judge deemed credible. Cardamone also presented the deposition testimony of Claimant’s treating physician, a board-certified neurologist, who had examined Claimant on multiple occasions. The insurance company’s counsel presented the deposition of the Independent Medical Examiner (we know they aren’t independent, but hand-picked by the insurer), a board- certified neurologist, who claimed there were no clinical findings to support a diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/RSD. Instead, he alleged the injury was a neuropathic pain process affecting the right hand secondary to the internal injuries.

However, on cross examination, Attorney Cardamone exposed numerous deficiencies in the medical expert’s examination and opinions. Cardamone revealed that the physician failed to ask Claimant whether he had swelling of the affected limb, whether he asked Claimant if he noticed any unusual sweat patterns, whether Claimant noticed any temperature changes in the limb, and what type of pain levels he was experiencing. These are all important hallmarks of RSD/CRPS. Moreover, Cardamone elicited testimony from the physician revealing that the medical expert for the insurer had not reviewed any of the medical records for treatment after his examination in April 2012, nor had he reviewed Claimant’s testimony or that of Claimant’s medical expert.

The Workers’ Compensation Judge issued a 16 page Decision summarizing the facts, the law, and why Cardamone had met his burden of proof in demonstrating that the Notice of Compensation Payable should be amended to include Complex Regional Pain Syndrome of the right upper extremity. In addition, litigation costs were awarded.

As a result of the Decision from the Workers’ Compensation Judge, Cardamone’s client can now receive the treatment he needs to help with his incapacitating pain without having to worry about the financial stress.

If you need assistance with a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case, call Certified Work Comp Specialist, Michael W. Cardamone at (215) 206-9068 or email him directly at MyPhillyWorkersComp@Gmail.com 7 days a week for a free consult. Representing injured workers is 100% of his practice and he is helping injured workers across the State of Pennsylvania.

The Cardamone Law Firm- The Firm For Injured Workers In Pennsylvania

 

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Pennsylvania Work Comp Attorney Michael W. Cardamone Of The Cardamone Law Firm- Winter 2014 Update

Thank you for reading my Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Blog. I wanted to provide an update with my practice.

-Since opening The Cardamone Law Firm in late November 2013, I’ve been retained by many injured workers who need a strong advocate to help fight for their benefits.

-My clients span from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Lancaster to Bradford- all over Pennsylvania. They include truck drivers, nurses, nursing assistants, office workers, union members, factory workers, laborers, bus drivers, etc.

-I’ve secured numerous victories in Workers’ Compensation Court for my clients.

-I’ve negotiated numerous settlements for my clients including some exceeding six figures.

-My KYW News Radio 1060 radio ad has been airing regularly on the radio- KYW News Radio is the most respected radio station in the Delaware Valley. As a result, my affiliated brand known as MyPhilly WorkersComp is becoming widely recognized, and relatively quickly.

-I’ve been voted by my peers for the 5th time as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law.

-I continue to maintain a perfect 10 out of 10 score by the Avvo Legal Ratings.

-Currently, I’m working on a seminar for Lawline.com for whom I’m a Faculty Member speaking on behalf of injured workers in Pennsylvania. The seminar will be 60 minutes and focus on presenting persuasive evidence for injured workers in a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case.

-I’ve been invited to an awards dinner in Philadelphia for my pro bono work for a financially challenged Philadelphia resident who was involved in a breach of contract dispute.

-I’ve continued to expand my network of top PA Lawyers in other areas of the law which benefits my clients who need legal help outside of their PA Work Comp case.

-Still working on a book I’m writing about Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation. I anticipate that it will be completed in the Fall of 2014.

-Looking forward to the release of Sons of Ben- The Movie- a documentary about the passionate Philadelphia Union supporters group- for which I’m a member- and their incredible story of successfully lobbying for an MLS team in Philly, their incredible support of the team and their charity work, and their brotherly bond. I may be seen in a picture or scene of the film. I helped the fundraising efforts for this great work of art. Being involved with the movie and as a fan of the Union has only heightened my love for our great city of Philadelphia.

Thank you for your support. Please subscribe to my blog for updates that get emailed to you. If you know any injured workers, please let them know that I am one of the few attorneys in Pennsylvania who 1) is a Certified Specialist in PA Work Comp Law, 2) only handles cases for injured workers, and 3) limits 100% of practice to Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation.

Referrals are the heart and soul of my practice and are much appreciated. All consults are 100% free and available 7 days a week.

Big firm skill, small firm attention.

 

 

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Reviews For The Cardamone Law Firm/MyPhilly WorkersComp- Work Comp Attorney Michael W. Cardamone

If you are an injured worker looking for reviews of Pennsylvania Work Comp Attorney Michael W. Cardamone, here is a link for you from the Avvo Legal Ratings Web Site- these reviews are from practicing attorneys who are familiar with Attorney Cardamone:

Philadelphia, PA Workmans Comp Attorney

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MyPhilly WorkersComp-The Cardamone Law Firm- Top Attorney Workers’ Comp Pennsylvania

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MyPhilly WorkersComp And KYW News Radio 1060

Listen in January and February for the MyPhilly WorkersComp Radio Ad on The Delaware Valley’s Leading Radio Station- KYW News Radio 1060!

MyPhilly WorkersComp

100% Workers’ Compensation Law; 100% For Injured Workers

Free Consults 7 Days A Week

(215) 206-9068

MyPhillyWorkersComp@Gmail.com

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Philadelphia PA Workers Comp Attorney Michael W. Cardamone Of The Cardamone Law Firm Wins Utilization Review Litigation For Injured Worker

Certified Pennsylvania Work Comp Specialist, Michael W. Cardamone of The Cardamone Law Firm won a Petition for Review of a Utilization Review for his client. The central issue in the case was whether chiropractic treatment was reasonable and necessary. In this context, the burden of proof is on the employer to establish that the challenged treatment is not reasonable and necessary. Cardamone successfully argued that the treatment helped his client to continue working  and provided functional improvement.  After all, what could be more useful than treatment allowing an injured worker to keep his or her job?

In the litigation, Cardamone presented his client’s testimony and a narrative report of the treating physician which outlined why the treatment was reasonable and necessary. In December 2013, the Workers’ Compensation Judge issued her Decision finding that the Employer failed to prove the chiropractic treatment was unreasonable or unnecessary. Accordingly, the Employer/Insurer has to pay for the treatment, and litigation costs were awarded.

It is important for injured workers to challenge Utilization Review Determinations that find treatment unreasonable or unnecessary. Call me if you are not already represented by a Certified PA Work Comp Lawyer, so I can challenge the Determination by filing a Petition to Review. There are strict deadlines for appealing these Determinations so be guided accordingly and act quickly.

For more information about Pennsylvania Work Comp Procedure, call Michael directly at (215) 206-9068 or email MyPhillyWorkersComp@Gmail.com 7 days a week.

Representing Injured Workers Across Pennsylvania

Offices in Philadelphia and Blue Bell, PA

Always Free Consults

The Cardamone Law Firm- The Firm For Injured Workers In Pennsylvania

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How Does A Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge Decide My Case?

The main issue for the Pennsylvania Work Comp Judges is credibility. When writing a Decision which decides a particular issue- for example, whether a work injury took place, the extent of disability, whether a recovery has been reached, whether the injured worker has an earning power, or whether medical treatment is reasonable and necessary- the Judge has to determine which medical expert’s opinion is most credible. Additionally, the Judge will make a determination in most cases as to whether he or she finds the testimony of the claimant (ie, injured worker) to be credible.

Let’s look at a hypothetical case. John Doe hurts his back while lifting boxes at work. The employer/insurer denies his claim, citing a pre-existing condition. John Doe’s attorney files a Claim Petition and litigation ensues. John Doe’s attorney takes the deposition of the treating doctor and also presents his client’s testimony. The insurance company hires an Independent Medical Examiner- who doesn’t treat John Doe, but who merely examines him, takes a history, and reviews medical records- and writes a report with his or her findings. The insurance company’s attorney takes the deposition of the IME doctor who disagrees with the treating doctor, blaming the symptoms on longstanding arthritis while the treating doctor opines that the work activity either caused a new condition and/or aggravated the underlying condition.

The parties are unable to settle the case. The insurer offers $10,000.00- which is about 9 months of work comp checks. John Doe wants $40,000.00. or more so that he can pay his bills and feed his family as he continues to recover.

The parties then have to write Briefs- these are the written arguments from the respective attorneys, with an overview of the applicable law, the facts of the case, and the arguments as to or why not the parties have met their burdens of proof. The litigation takes 12 months.

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge has to review the Briefs and issue a written Decision outlining all the facts, the applicable law, and most importantly, make credibility determinations.

A typical Decision, in this specific regard, might look something like this:

“This Judge finds the testimony of Dr. Smith (John Doe’s doctor) to be more credible and persuasive than that of Dr. Johnson (IME doctor). Dr. Smith had the opportunity to treat Claimant and observe him over many different occasions. Dr. Smith’s testimony is consistent with that of Claimant and supported by the objective, diagnostic studies.”

“This Judge finds the testimony of Claimant to be credible. Claimant’s testimony is supported by his treating physician, the diagnostic studies, and is internally consistent. Claimant admitted his prior back treatment, and even tried working after this injury before he was terminated.”

The credibility determinations are the most critical aspects of a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case in terms of the Judge’s Decision. The Judge is charged with the obligation to issue a “reasoned Decision” so that the parties can make sense of the outcome based on the facts. The Judge has to resolve conflicting testimony and have support in the nature of “substantial evidence” for the findings.

Can The Decision Be Appealed?

Yes, any party can appeal the Decision of the Workers’ Compensation Judge within 20 days. It goes up to the Appeal Board who hears oral arguments in most cases and review appellate Briefs. The written Decision from the Appeal Board can take up to a year or more.

What If I Don’t Like The Appeal Board’s Decision?

You can take an appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania within 30 days. The written arguments and rules are more stringent at this level. Eventually, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania may decide to review a case but this does not happen too frequently.

Do Many Decisions Get Overturned?

I do not know the statistics. But, in my practice, I find it to be fairly rare for a Decision by the Workers’ Compensation Judge to get overturned. Why is this? The appellate courts give deference to the Workers’ Compensation Judge in terms of credibility determinations and as I’ve said, these are the most crucial aspects of the Decisions. What is not rare is a remand- that is, when the Appeal Board sends the case back to the Workers’ Compensation Judge to issue a new Decision addressing issues that he or she may not have addressed originally. For example, suppose John Doe had an EMG study done which showed an S1 radiculopathy and the Judge failed to address this in the Decision- the Appeal Board may remand the case to the Judge to address the EMG and how it affects the outcome.

Our goal at The Cardamone Law Firm is not to keep injured workers in the dark about the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation process. Our goal is to explain it and make sense of it. I am shocked at how many clients I get from other firms who have failed to explain how things work. The big picture is important to understand.

The Cardamone Law Firm is a rare firm that only handles PA Work Comp cases- and only for injured workers. If you are tired of being bounced around to different attorneys at a bigger firm, call Michael Cardamone directly at (215) 206-9068 for a free consult 7 days a week.

Certified PA Work Comp Specialist

MyPhillyWorkersComp@Gmail.com

The Cardamone Law Firm

The Firm For Injured Workers In Pennsylvania

 

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