Do You Like Being A Lawyer?

I can’t speak for my colleagues, but the answer for me is yes! I’ve always liked the idea of being a lawyer. That’s probably because my dad was a lawyer. Even as a kid, I could see the passion overflowing in him. He would come home for dinner around 630 every night and he talked my mom’s ear off from the moment he walked in the door- about a trial he had, a quirky opponent, or how he would prove his case. I loved listening in, even if I didn’t understand everything. He was so charged up and seemed to have limitless energy.  He didn’t have many hobbies. He didn’t really follow politics. He didn’t hang out with friends often. He was consumed by his work- but he loved it. He wasn’t into sports, but he didn’t lack competitiveness. His urgency to win was always present and unmistakable. He especially loved the process of breaking down complicated issues, layer by layer, until the truth was uncovered. My dad was better at this than anyone I have ever seen-even to this day.

I wasn’t 100% sure I would be a lawyer. I had an open mind to other options. And I was lucky that my parents didn’t push me into anything to merely satisfy themselves. They let us find our own passion. My brother is in sales, my sister a teacher.  But as I started doing really well in my philosophy and english courses at Boston College, I realized that this would be a nice fit for me. I really enjoyed breaking concepts down, making arguments, writing, and interpreting ideas. Math didn’t excite me- that’s for sure.

When I was a kid, I don’t remember hearing many lawyer jokes. The sense I got was that it was a highly respected profession. I don’t always get that sense now, though. At the same time, it doesn’t bother me much. I respect it and I use every opportunity I can to show my clients why it should be respected. I think I’ve been successful at doing that- at least I hope.

Every case is a new challenge and an opportunity to help someone, and to grow intellectually. From keeping your client happy and informed, to strategizing about how to prove your case, you need to be “on your game”.  Taking depositions forces you to think quickly on  your feet, and writing briefs sharpens your writing and analytical abilities. But you can’t do these things without clients, so marketing and being creative is mandatory to survive. You put all of these things together and what you get is satisfaction. You won’t win every case. You will feel enormous stress and pressure at times. Some clients will be dificult from the moment they walk into your office. But you keep in mind that you are helping people and that’s the most important thing. It brings a deep sense of accomplishment. Many clients send thank you notes or emails that floor me. I come back to them often- to remind myself how meaningful the work is.

I look around and it feels like half of my law school classmates aren’t lawyers any more. The profession is well known to chew some people up. Like any business, if you don’t like the subject material that you’re working on- or the people around you- you will likely end up doing something else. It may take moving around to a few different firms to find the right match. It did for me. My brother once told me that the business world is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s true. If you hang in there and keep working hard, great things will often come.

I may be a dying breed. But I like being a lawyer.

Repetitive Work Related Injury Lawyer In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Do repetitive work injuries count as work-related injuries in Pennsylvania?

Yes! Whether your injury was sustained suddenly, or from repetitive work activities, it is a work injury so long as 1) you were an employee at the time, 2) it occurred in the course and scope of your employment (ie, while you were working), and 3) your doctor agrees that it was caused by your work activities.

Now, this doesn’t mean that your Employers’ doctors or an IME doctor won’t have another opinion. For example, in carpal tunnel cases, many times the medical experts will have different opinions as to what caused the condition. These claims are frequently denied. Do not let this discourage you!  You can, and should, pursue any repetitive work injury. How is this done? Hire an experienced Pennsylvania repetitive work injury lawyer. I am here to help!

If my injury occurred from repetitive work activities, what is the date of my injury? Good question. If you are not working currently, it’s usually the last day of work-since each day of work is considered a new injury under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law. If you are continuing to work, it’s often the day you gave notice of the injury to your Employer. Sometimes, the date of injury is the day of the diagnosis by a doctor. It’s obviously not as cut and dry as a traumatic work-related injury, but it’s just as valid as a matter of law.

The most common repetitive trauma work injury that I see in Pennsylvania is carpal tunnel syndrome. Some other repetitive work injuries in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation cases are low back injuries from repetitive lifting, or shoulder injuries from repetitive lifting or assembly line work. These are just a few examples.

It is very important for an injured worker in Pennsylvania to describe the specific mechanism of injury– that is, a description of what work activities caused the symptoms. This is a key foundation for the medical expert opinions. Sometimes the doctors will race through the history portion of the examination, so be sure to slow them down to explain and document what you were doing at work which caused your problem

Repetitive work injury cases in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation cases are not treated any differently regarding the litigation process. You still need to produce a medical expert who opines, within a reasonable degree of medical certaintly, that the work activites caused the diagnoses- or were a substantial contributing factor.  In addition, the injured worker wil have to testify about the circumstances surrounding the injury.

If you need a Repetitive Work Injury Lawyer in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania, call one of Pennsylvania’s Best Work Comp Lawyers Michael W. Cardamone 7 days a week at 215-206-9068 to reach him directly or email MyPhillyWorkersComp@Gmail.com for a free analysis of your case.

The Cardamone Law Firm

The Firm For Injured Workers In Pennsylvania

If My Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case Goes To Court, How Does It Work?

Some cases never go into litigation. An injured worker in Pennsylvania may receive work comp benefits, then return to her pre-injury job with no drama or litigation. But many cases do end up in court. There may be a dispute over the amount of the compensation due, the nature of the work-related injury, a disagreement about whether a job is within the injured worker’s physical restrictions, unpaid medical bills, late checks, varying medical opinions from a panel doctor or IME doctor versus treating physicians, or disputes regarding what type of treatment is reasonable and necessary. These are just some examples.

So what happens then when a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case ends up in court? First, a petition is filed by the injured worker’s PA Work Comp Lawyer, or by the insurer’s counsel. Once a petition is filed, the responding party has 20 days to file an Answer, admitting or denying the allegations. Next, the case is assigned to a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge- and all parties receive a copy. After the Assignment Notice, a Notice of Hearing is mailed advising the parties when the first hearing is and the location. Some Work Comp Judges takes testimony and evidence at the initial hearing, while others conduct what’s called a “Pre-Trial” hearing where the attorneys simply confer with the the Judge about how they intend to litigate the case, with the Judge issuing a Scheduling Order dictating when the evidence for each side is due.

After the initial hearing, the attorneys secure evidence and take necessary depositions to meet their respective burdens of proof. Many cases will settle before the end of the case. If the case does resolve, the parties will usually enter into a Stipulation of Facts for the Judge’s approval, or a Compromise & Release Agreement which the Judge must approve at a hearing. If a case doesn’t settle, the parties submit their evidence at a final hearing (sometimes it’s permissible to do this via mail- each Judge has their own rules) and the Judge advises when the written arguments are due- these are called “briefs”.

When will I testify? It depends on the type of petition that is filed and what Judge is presiding. For a Claim Petition- that is, a situation where the Employer denied the claim, most Judges take testimony at the first hearing. Other Judges allow the parties to take a deposition (testimony outside of court) early on, then testimony in court at the final hearing. For other petitions, the injured worker often testifies at the second or final hearing. There are some petitions that will not involve testimony. For example, if there is a Penalty Petition for unpaid medical bills, there may be no need for testimony because the parties can submit documentation instead.

From start to finish, a petition can take up to 12 months to litigate. Each side has 90 days to secure their evidence under the Rules, but note that some Judges move things quicker, and some are more forgiving with deadlines. No two cases are identical and each takes its own path. It is important to study each Judge’s rules.

If the Judge rules against me, can I appeal? Yes. You have 20 days to submit an appeal to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. If the Board doesn’t rule in your favor, you have the right to take an appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania- and ultimately the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  It is not easy to have a Work Comp Judge’s Decision overturned. However, it is always worth examining the Decision to make sure that no errrors were made, to see if the correct law was applied, and to make sure the Judge summarized and considered all the relevant tesitmony.

Do I need a PA Work Comp Attorney? Yes!! It goes without saying that if you do not have an experienced Pennsylvania Work Injury Lawyer representing you, your odds at a victory are very slim. It is not impossible, but it’s very difficult for an injured worker to know how to secure medical evidence, to pay thousands of dollars for a medical deposition, to know the rules of evidence, etc. The fees are contingent for an injured worker which means the attorney only gets paid if he/she wins you wage loss that you’re not currently getting, or prevents the insurer from reducing your wage loss- or if he/she strikes a global settlement of your case- that is, a full and final settlement of all issues.

If you are an injured worker in Pennsylvania, call or email me at 215-206-9068, myphillyworkerscomp@gmail.com  7 days a week for a free consult or just to learn more general information about how Pennsylvania Work Comp cases work.

The Cardamone Law Firm, LLC

What Does A Notice Of Ability To Return To Work (LIBC 757) Mean In Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation?

I get many phone calls from clients and prospective clients about the peculiar document, called a Notice of Ability To Return To Work. This is a form, LIBC 757, sent to an injured worker pursuant to Section 306(b) (3) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. That provision states, “If the insurer receives medical evidence that the claimant is able to return to work in any capacity, then the insurer must provide prompt written notice, on a form prescribed by the department, to the claimant, which states all of the following:

1) The nature of the employe’s physical condition or change of condition.

2) That the employe has an obligation to look for available employment.

3) That proof of available employment opportunities may jeopardize the employe’s right to receipt of ongoing benefits.

4) That the employe has the right to consult with an attorney in order to obtain evidence to challenge the insurer’s contentions. (emphasis added)

The Notice of Ability To Return To Work Form is often misinterpreted as an actual offer by the time of injury Employer for the Claimant to return to work. This is not true- unless the form is actually accompanied by a job offer letter. The Notice of Ability To Return To Work is simply what is says- it’s a notice. Be careful to make sure a job offer isn’t enclosed with the Notice.

What is the purpose of the Notice? The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, in Burrell v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Philadelphia Gas Works), 849 A.2d 1282, held that “the purpose of the notice requirement is to require the employer to share new medical information about a claimant’s physical capacity to work and its possible impact on existing benefits”. The Court in Burrell also noted that formal notice is not required where a claimant is actually performing the work.

Another source of confusion regarding the Notice of Ability To Return To Work is that the Notice often comes on the heels of an independent medical exam- that is, an exam by a doctor which the work comp insurer chooses. The IME doctors frequently claim that an injured worker is either fully recovered from her work injuries or that the injured worker has the ability to work within certain restrictions. This opinion often conflicts with the injured worker’s own doctor. The treating physician may believe the injured worker cannot work at all, or that she needs more restrictions than the IME doctor imposed.

Therefore, the injured employee may be confused about what restrictions the Employer will utilize is making a possible job offer- the IME doctor’s restrictions or her own doctor’s restrictions. It is strongly recommended that the injured workers calls an experienced Pennsylvania Work Injury Lawyer to discuss this situation. The next move taken by the injured worker can make or break a case.

The failure of an insurer to send the Notice of Ability To Return To Work will sometimes, by itself, defeat an attempt by the employer/insurer to reduce benefits. For an employer to successfully reduce benefits, it must send out this Notice promptly. There are some exceptions, however. For example, in Smith v. Worker’s Compensation Appeal Board (Caring Companions, Inc.), No. 417 C.D. 2012, the Commonwealth Court found that the Notice of Ability To Return To Work was not required because Claimant herself had provided her employer with a copy of her doctor’s restrictions. The purpose of Section 306 (b)(3) had already been achieved.

If you get a Notice of Ability To Return To Work, call me and I will discuss with you how it affects your case. I am available 7 days a week at 215-206-9068 (direct dial) or via email at mcardamone@krasno.com