Thursday, May 12, 2011

April Proves Tough Month for Gas Drillers

From the Wyalusing Rocket Courier:

Mounting Protests and Government Crackdowns Challenge Industry

April has perhaps been the most difficult stretch of time yet faced by companies related to the natural gas drilling industry, especially in Bradford County. The heated rancor of the public was already reaching a fever pitch when Chesapeake Energy’s Atgas 2H well in Leroy Township experienced a serious malfunction on April 19 that spewed thousands of gallons of toxic fracking water, much of which ran off into a tributary of Towanda Creek.

Earlier in the month, state environmental regulators asked the gas companies to voluntarily suspend the controversial practice of discharging extracted fracking water into rivers and streams. Meanwhile, local municipalities are refusing to allow the companies to construct wastewater treatment plants. Citizens in towns along both branches of the Susquehanna River are mounting objections to additional drafting of river water for fracking purposes.

The gas well blow-out and mounting public opposition to almost every aspect of gas drilling prompted Bradford County Commissioner Mark W. Smith to compose a stern letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

“Issue after issue has arisen in Bradford County in relation to the development of natural gas,” Smith stated at the beginning of his letter. Smith went on to detail several key gas-related issues that have affected the residents of Bradford County in ways, he asserts, that are not being addressed at the state level.

Among his concerns are recent reports that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spends an average of 35 minutes deliberating the approval of new gas well permits. “This is an appalling statistic considering the significant impact of a natural gas drilling site and even more appalling considering that there have been nearly 2,000 gas wells permitted in Bradford County.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Can I Settle My PA Workers’ Comp Case?

Sure! (Well, most of the time.) I represent injured workers who receive PA workers’ comp. Sometimes, a case is just right to “settle” - or “put an end to” - medical benefits, wage benefits or even both. Settling a Workers’ Comp case means that the injured worker and the insurance company have come to an agreement as to just how much ‘value’ (or ‘money’) the case is worth when considering medical bills and treatment as well as any past or future lost wages. Once everyone agrees on a value for the case, a Workers’ Comp Judge reviews the terms of the settlement (in Comp lingo, called a ‘Compromise and Release’). Then, the Judge issues a Decision approving the C&R and the insurance company pays you the ‘value’ you agreed upon.

Do we settle every case? Definitely not! In most cases we start thinking about settling only after our client is finished treating with his doctor and once we know the client’s long-term prognosis. It makes no sense to settle your case if you are unsure about the need for future surgery, therapy or the like. It also makes no sense to settle the case if you are unsure whether you’ll be returning to work at the same wage you earned before the injury or whether you might not return to work at all. And then there are the times that settling the case is the right thing to do despite the medical or wage issues.

Based on my 16 years' of experience in litigating PA Workers’ Comp cases, I may have reason to believe that your chances of winning before the Judge are slim. If this is the case, it may be in your best interest to settle the case rather than risk losing before the Judge and getting no
Comp benefits at all. It is important to remember that each case is different. You need to evaluate your case based on these and other factors to determine if settlement is appropriate.

More likely than not, there is value in your case and many times the insurance company can be motivated to pay “top dollar” to clear their books of open claims. I will evaluate your case to determine if it’s ready to settle, and if so, the fair ‘value’ of your case so you can move on in your life and support your family. Send me an email, give me a call or just stop by if
I can help with your PA Workers’ Comp case.