Should I Do A Mediation If I Have A Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case?

Yes! Mediations are very effective in helping to resolve a case. The PA Work Comp Judges, at the first hearing, will usually schedule a mandatory mediation-unless the parties agree that it is futile. An example of futility is if the insurer doesn’t give the attorney any authority to settle the case for a lump sum. But in most cases, the parties will agree to mediate. Even if a mandatory mediation doesn’t occur, the parties can elect to do a voluntary mediation and pick any judge they want.

Why is mediation so effective? First, the parties are not on the record. The injured worker is free to say whatever he or she wants without having to worry about the presiding judge hearing it. It’s less formal. If one or both parties are being unreasonable, the judge can help persuade them. Even if a case doesn’t completely settle at a mediation, it can often streamline the issues. Sometimes, the mediation is an important step in a long settlement process.

Remember- even if the mediating judge believes an injured worker should settle at a certain amount- it is NOT a requirement to settle for a lump sum. The same goes for the insurer. It’s an agreement between two parties, not a unilateral agreement.

Can You Change Your Mind After Mediation? Yes. A Pennsylvania Work Comp Settlement is not finalized until a work comp judge approves it a Compromise & Release Hearing. Usually, if a case settles at mediation, the settlement hearing takes place 2 to 4 weeks later.

For more information about mediation in PA Work Comp cases, call or email 7 days a week.

The Cardamone Law Firm

The Firm For Injured Workers In Pennsylvania

Lansdale, PA and Hatfield, PA Work Comp Lawyer

Do you live around the Lansdale or Hatfield, PA area? I handle our firm’s cases in these areas and know the workers’ compensation judges very well. This can be a benefit to our clients as I get to know the particular quirks and procedures of the judges. Lansdale and Hatfield are home to many businesses, including restaurants, factories, retail, and pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, when someone gets injured at work, they are not always treated fairly by the employer or its insurance company.  Most workers are sent to panel doctors in the first 90 days- these doctors are essentially working for the employers and they tend to minimize a worker’s injuries. Getting legal guidance from the outset is very important.

If you live in or near Lansdale and Hatfield, PA, call me at (215) 206-9068 or email mcardamone@krasno.com for a free consult regarding your injury case.

 

Spring 2013 Update For PA Work Comp Lawyer Michael W. Cardamone

Spring 2013 is here and workers’ comp is heating up just like our weather. (ok, the weather SHOULD be heating up) Here are some updates with my workers’ compensation practice:

-Settled a case for $110,000.00 for a client who injured his neck and shoulder in a work-related accident in which a heavy garage door suddenly fell on him. The independent doctor claimed a full recovery whereas the treating doctor said otherwise. We successfully fended off a Petition to Terminate at the Supersedeas level (the initial stage of litigation) allowing my client to continue receiving his work comp checks as the litigation ensued.

-Settled a case for $67,500 for a client who sustained a back and neck injury. We successfully defended a Petition to Terminate his benefits in 2010, keeping his checks coming and recently settled his case for a lump sum payment, allowing him to move on with his life, invest his money, and avoid more demoralizing Independent Medical Exams, surveillance, and late checks.

-Settled a case for $25,000.00 for a client involving carpal tunnel, traumatically induced, when a door slammed shut on her. Treating doctor said work-related injury and surgery needed; IME doctor said not work-related. (incredible- how do they sleep at night??)

-Settled a case for $73,000.00 involving a foot injury from a heavy pipe falling on it.

-Settled a case for $75,000.00 involving a neck and shoulder injury from being struck with a heavy tray of bread, and aggravated from pulling heavy trays on a truck. Once again, the IME doctor claimed a recovery whereas the treating doctor said no way. The varying medical opinions drive litigation in this area of the law.

Remember- all cases are unique and have different settlement factors involved.

-Working on a book that I expect to be published by January 2014. Details to follow as date gets closer.

-Presenting seminar for Lawline.com in May 2013 titled, “Building Blocks For A Successful Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claim”

-Won Decision for my client in a case involving repetitive work activities. The insurer was especially recalcitrant as it defended the case despite having an indepedent medical report admitting the work-relatedness of Claimant’s condition. Rather than stipulating to a work-related injury, it presented medical records from the panel doctors who weren’t specialists, to try to create doubt. The Work Comp Judge found their evidence to be “utterly unpersuasive”.

-Attended hearing recently in a case where the insurer is trying to establish an earning power for my client with a “funded employment” situation which has gone out of style in PA Work Comp cases. Off the record, the Judge told defense counsel that he isn’t impressed. I have a feeling the insurer will now come a lot closer to our settlement demand. My client is a great guy who is really struggling financially as a result of his work injury. I was his transportation to and from the hearing as he cannot afford a car. It feels great helping all clients, but when they are financially destitute, the feeling is magnified.

-Negotiating several deals involving Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, formerly known as RSD- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I have a lot of experience with these cases and they are challenging to settle given the need for chronic pain management and the insurer’s insistance on closing off medical benefits as part of a Compromise & Release. Patience really pays off in settlement negotiations. These cases prove that principle.

-Recently settled a case for a client that I am helping pro bono through the Philadelphia VIP Program which provides free legal assistance to city residents who cannot afford an attorney. The case involved a breach of contract stemming from car repairs after an accident. I helped negotiate a satisfactory deal for my client which saved her hundreds of dollars had she gone to trial and lost.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you have any ideas for postings, feel free to let me know via email at mcardamone@krasno.com

Philadelphia PA Construction Accident Lawyer- Why Experience Is So Critical

I have 14 years of experience handling workplace construction accident cases. These injuries are often quite serious and require the expertise of an experienced workplace injury lawyer. Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation is a complex maze of rules and regulations that the insurer likes to use to minimize an injured worker’s case. Navigating this system alone is a foolish move.

An important aspect of these cases is spotting a 3rd party case. A 3rd party case is a case for negligence against a 3rd party- that is, an entity other than the Employer. An injured worker’s sole remedy for the work-related injury with respect to the Employer is the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law. However, if a 3rd party was responsible for causing the work-related injury, then a 3rd party case for negligence may be viable. The damages are different in these parallel cases. In the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case, the damages (ie, benefits) are equivalent to the loss of earning power and medical benefits. In a personal injury case, however, the damages may include pain and suffering.

What are some examples of a 3rd party case? If  you were injured in a motor vehicle accident while working, you would have a Pennsylvania Work Comp case against the Employer and a 3rd party case against the driver of the automobile if the driver’s negligence caused the injuries. Or, if  you were working in a deli and cut off your finger because a machine malfunctioned, you would have a Pennsylvania Work Comp case against the Employer and a 3rd party case against the manufacturer of the machine that malfunctioned.

I have come across many situations where an injured worker has a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation lawyer who has failed to spot a possible 3rd party case. This is a costly error- possibly costing the injured worker millions of dollars in damages outside of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case. Now, not every workplace injury in Pennsylvania has a viable 3rd party action. Indeed, one must prove negligence on a 3rd party and show that the negligence was the proximate cause of the injuries. But the failure to alert the injured worker as to a possible 3rd party case is inexcusable.

When an injured worker has a viable 3rd party case, in addition to the PA Work Comp case, the attorneys must consult with each other to maximize the cases. Why? Well, the work comp insurance carrier has a right to subrogation. Subrogation essentially means the right to reimbursement. In these contexts, this means the carrier is entitled to a portion of the 3rd party settlement proceeds (less attorneys’ fees and costs) unless that lien is waived or reduced voluntarily. This concept can be tricky and difficult to comprehend so it is important for the lawyers to translate this to his/her client so that he understands the implications of subrogation on the two cases.

It is very important to get a consult as soon after a work injury as possible. In Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation the statute of limitations is 3 years. In personal injury (ie, 3rd party) cases, it is a 2 year statute in Pennsylvania. However, the sooner a claim is investigated, the better the odds are at a favorable outcome.

If you were injured at work, call me or email me for a free and prompt consult 7 days a week. Toll FREE (877) 560-7090 or mcardamone@krasno.com

Sons of Ben: The Movie

I am a proud member of the Sons of Ben. A movie is being made about the Sons of Ben- but the producers need more financial backing. The link is below. Please help if you can- the exposure for Philadelphia, and the financial aid this could bring to struggling Chester, PA is priceless. If you are unable to donate, please consider sharing the link on your facebook, twitter, linkedin, blog, or pinterest pages. Thank you.

 

Sons of Ben: The Movie

If My IME Doctor Alleges I Am Fully Recovered From My Pennsylvania Work-Related Injury, Can They Stop My Checks?

No. If you are receiving Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation wage loss benefits for an accepted claim, the insurer or third party administrator is not permitted to stop your checks merely because it has received a medical report from a doctor claiming that you are recovered from the work injury. To stop the checks in this situation, the insurer or TPA has to file a Petition to Terminate benefits, request supersedeas, and then have supersedeas granted by the Work Comp Judge.

So, what is supersedeas in a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case? It is a request by the insurer or TPA to the Work Comp Judge to stop the wage loss checks, at the beginning stage of litigation, based on the receipt of medical evidence that there is a recovery. Note, however, that the Work Comp Judge will, before issuing a Decision on supersedeas, allow the injured worker to submit documents that establish the fact that there has not been a full recovery. Injured workers who are not represented by an experienced PA Work Comp Lawyer are at a big disadvantage in this situation and they are urged to seek representation to avoid having their checks stopped. If the lawyer is successful, the Judge will award a 20% fee of the ongoing checks- but the alternative is much, much worse- the checks stopping. The Supersedeas Hearing arrives quickly after a Petition to Terminate (or Suspend) is filed.

Can the Supersedeas Decision be reversed? Supersedeas comes by way of an interlocutory order- which, by definition, means it is not subject to appeal. However, after the Judge reviews all of the evidence at the end of the litigation – including deposition testimony, the final Decision can reinstate the checks. But litigation can take a year or more sometimes-so the supersedeas stage is critical because losing at that level means no work comp checks during the rest of the litigation. This can be a devastating scenario for many injured workers who do not have sufficient savings to carry them through.

One situation where the insurer or TPA can stop the work comp checks without Court Order is when an injured worker returns to work at the pre-injury employer. The insurer or TPA can issue what’s called a Notice of Suspension since the injured worker is back to a regular paycheck. The injurer worker can challenge that Notice if the return to work is not successful. The nature of that specific challenge depends on the length of time the injured worker continued to work.

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law has become highly technical and procedural. If you are an injured worker and do not have legal representation with a PA Work Comp Lawyer who only handles PA Work Comp cases, call or email me immediately for a free consult TOLL FREE 1 (877) 560-7090 or mcardamone@krasno.com

You won’t talk with a “runner” or a secretary- you will talk with me directly so that I can give you a complete analysis of your case.