Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What geographic area does Carroll & Carroll, P.C. cover?

These are the towns where most of our Pennsylvania workers' compensation clients have come from throughout our region:
Athens, PA
Sayre, PA
Towanda, PA
Wyalusing, PA
Canton, PA
Troy, PA
Dushore, PA
LaPorte, PA
Eagles Mere, PA
Mansfield, PA
Wellsboro, PA
Montrose, PA
Great Bend, PA
New Milford, PA
Tunkhannock, PA
Blossburg, PA
Elkland, PA
Williamsport, PA

So, if you have a Pennsylvania workers' compensation case and you have questions, feel free to call us. Even if you're represented by another attorney and you're not happy with that representation, just call. The consultation is free. And we're always here.

Thanks for reading.


New case law on allowing the treating physician to attend an IME or defense medical examination

The following is language from the case of Knechtel v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. (Marriott Corporation), 934 A.2d 697, which is a November, 2007 decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The case deals with the issue of allowing a treating physician to attend an "IME" or defense medical examination. From the Court....
"Today the Court affirms by per curiam order the Commonwealth Court's construction regarding the legislature's enactment of 77 P.S. § 651(b), n1 allowing a claimant's healthcare provider to "participate" in the examination conducted by an employer's physician. In so doing, we affirm the court's holding that the legislature intended to afford the opposing expert a first-hand view of the examination process, through attendance and observation, but did not intend to permit such expert to engage in any active conduct which might disturb the examining physician. I write to express my opinion that nothing in our affirmance of the Commonwealth Court's opinion, limiting a healthcare provider to attending and observing an employer's physician's examination, should be seen as precluding such a provider from engaging in other passive, non-disruptive activity during the exam. Specifically, I believe that a workers' compensation judge retains the discretion to grant a claimant's reasonable request to take notes and/or audio or videotape the examination, so long as such activity will not interfere with an employer's physician's ability to conduct an examination."

This decision confirms what was widely understood and used by Claimant's attorneys-- that the Claimant or a representative of the Claimant (like their attorney or a paralegal from the firm) could attend a DME and video or audio tape the examination. This is a great tactic to use, especially with doctors who basically perform these types of examinations for a living and are beholden to the insurance industry for the economic survival.

What is an Independent Medical Examination (IME)?

This article describes the term "Independent Medical Examination" or "IME" as used in injury, workers' compensation or disability cases. As pointed out in the article, these examinations are not really independent but are merely examinations performed by a doctor with a relationship with the insurance company or insurance industry. Here at Carroll & Carroll, P.C., we call them exactly what they are, Defense Medical Examinations, or "DME."

Please refer to another library item regarding "What to do at a DME." This is a standard letter that we send to all of our clients who have to attend a defense medical examination. These are when the insurance company hires a doctor to exam the plaintiff and render an opinion that the defense will use in a Pennsylvania workers' compensation case. These exams are more commonly referred to as IME's or Independent Medical Exams, but we and C&C Law think there's nothing independent about them.

The exams are for the defense so let's just call them that-- Defense Medical Exams. Usually, the doctor conducting the exam is well known with the insurance industry and makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year conducting exams for the insurance industry. I ask independent is that!?!? The attached documents are good rules to follow when you have to attend one of these exams.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation wage benefit rates

Under the Workers' Compensation Act, injured workers are entitled to indemnity (wage-loss) benefits equal to two-thirds of their weekly wage for a work-related injury. However, there are minimum and maximum adjustments provided in the Act, and the benefit rate is set using the annual maximum in place at the time of injury. The maximum is based on the Department of Labor and Industry's calculation of the statewide average weekly wage.
The following schedules provide the weekly rates from calendar year 1993 to 2008. When referring to the schedules, read down the column for the calendar year during which the injury occurred.

For example, the maximum weekly compensation rate for calendar year 2008 is $807.00. The second block represents the weekly compensation rate to be 66 2/3 percent of the employee's average weekly wage if the average weekly wage falls between $1,210.50 and $605.26.

The third block reflects a weekly compensation rate of $403.50 if the employee's average weekly wage is between $605.25 and $448.33.

The last block is 90 percent of the employee's average weekly wage if his/her average weekly wage is $448.32 or less.

See the wage rate table here.

What are the most important things an injured individual should do when they have a work injury?

Always report a work injury even if you might not lose time from work or need immediate medical care. It is critical that you require your employer to complete an accident report. Remember to keep an independent record of the date, time, and nature of your work injury.

In addition, make a list of witnesses as well as the person to whom the injury is reported; Be sure to provide a complete and accurate account of the type of injury you sustained and how your injury occurred as well as your past medical history.

If your employer fails to accept your claim within 21 days of the date you notify them, seek legal assistance and file a petition for compensation. Should your employer accept your injury, be certain that the wages upon which your compensation is based are accurate.

In most cases your compensation should be 66 2/3% of your gross wages from all sources of employment. If, after receiving compensation, your employer or the insurance company asks you to see another physician, seek legal advice immediately as this is your employer's first step in their attempt to either terminate your compensation or modify your benefits.

It is possible that your employer may offer you modified work based on medical proof that you are able to perform that work. This can cause you to lose your benefits by failing to accept the newly defined work; You might be contacted by a vocational rehabilitation firm attempting to find you a new job. Your compensation can be effected if you fail to cooperate with the vocational firm. Should you receive a petition in the mail to terminate, suspend or modify your compensation, seek legal advice.

NEVER sign a supplement agreement or final receipt without having it reviewed by an attorney.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Flow of a Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Claim

This is a nice little form from the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Bureau that describes the flow of the basic workers' compensation case. We have a printed version of this form in our lobby. It's a good summary of what's done and can be a good visual explanation of why these cases, sometimes, take a long time. Of course, every case is different so your particular case may not follow this example exactly.

You can find the form here.

You can also find a flow chart here that describes the claim documents that are most commonly seen in cases that are NOT in litigation. Just scroll over the document title for a description of what that form is used for.

OSRAM's Towanda plant sold to Austrian company

I posted this news item in the "News" section C&C Law's web site here.

Whenever we have a major plant closing I often get calls from people who have current workers' compensation cases with the company being sold. The employees are usually concerned about the continuation of their benefits, etc.

99% of the time, though, you don't have to worry about your benefits stopping or being effected at all by the sale. Obviously, though, your job (assuming you're still working either full or light duty) might be affected. So, if your company is sold and you are laid off but you also have an open workers' compensation case, make sure you talk to an experienced workers' comp. lawyer to review your options.

There's more information on the sale here.

Report: Work-safety rules are weak, deaths too many

This comes under the category of "Why I Do What I Do."

From The

"On an average workday, more than 150 Americans die due to job-related injury or disease, according to a report released today by the AFL-CIO, a Washington-based umbrella group for more than 50 labor unions worldwide. Another 11,233 are injured, noted the “Death on the Job” report, based on 2006 government data.

All told, in 2006, more than four million workers were injured and 5,840 were killed. The report advances Monday’s International Workers’ Memorial Day, started by the AFL-CIO 20 years ago to honor those who died or were injured on the job.The report said U.S. work safety rules are weak and penalties assessed to employers amount to a slap on the wrist. Nationally, the average fine imposed for a fatality was just over $10,000.But an industry spokeswoman said workplace safety is of paramount concern to businesses.“People are the most important asset for manufacturers, and safety on the job is the highest priority,” said Laura Narvaiz, spokeswoman for the National Association of Manufacturers, the nation’s largest industrial trade group.Alaska and Wyoming had the highest rate of worker deaths, New Hampshire and Rhode Island the lowest.Complicating matters: a skeletal staff of federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors. Some 2,094 inspectors are responsible for the nation’s 130 million workers."

You can see the entire AFL-CIO report here.

First Posting on Pa Work Injury Law Blog! WhoooHooo!

This is my first post on the Pa Work Injury Law blog. With this blog I'll attempt to provide a summary of Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation law. I will mainly focus on how it affects individual claimants, but this blog will also be a good research tool for lawyers who practice Pa work comp. I'll provide new case law updates as well as the practical tips and hints that can help the practitioner. But most importantly, I'll try to provide simple answers to complicated questions for injured workers and their families. Being injured at work is never a fun thing to do. And going through the workers' compensation system in Pennsylvania can seem like a maze. But the attorneys and staff at Carroll & Carroll, P.C. are here to help the injured worker and their family work through this maze. If you ever have any questions on something that I post, please feel free to email. I'm always available.

For more information, you can visit C&C Law's website at Thanks for reading.