Pa. Supreme Court Declares Impairment Rating Provisions of the Workers’ Comp Act Unconstitutional; Attorney Dan Siegel Authored Amicus Brief

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court today declared as unconstitutional the impairment rating evaluation (IRE) provision in Section 306(a.2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The decision in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District) means that injured workers will no longer be subject to a cap on the length of wage loss benefits they received. Attorney Dan Siegel of the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC authored the friend of the court brief on behalf of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice (formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association).

In the 6-1 majority opinion authored by Justice Wecht, the Court concluded that the Pennsylvania legislature violated the state Constitution when it passed this provision because it (1) gave “unfettered discretion over Pennsylvania’s impairment-rating methodology” to the American Medical Association, and (2) “did not include in … any of the procedural mechanisms that this Court has considered essential to protect against ‘administrative arbitrariness and caprice.'”

Chief Justice Saylor authored a concurring opinion. Justice Baer filed a dissenting opinion. Pittsburgh attorney Tom Baumann represented claimant.

Click here to read the Protz opinion.

Click here to read Dan Siegel’s Amicus brief.

Before the decision, Section 306(a.2) of Act permitted employers to require an injured worker to undergo an IRE after receiving 104 weeks of disability benefits. If the IRE physician determined that the injured worker’s whole body impairment was less than 50 percent, as determined by the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, the worker was limited to 500 weeks of future wage losses. The Court held that the delegation of the impairment determination was impermissible because only the legislature can make those decisions.

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has conclusively ruled on this issue,” said Dan Siegel, “because we have been raising the issue on behalf of our clients, and in cases in which other attorneys have retained us to do so. In addition, it was a pleasure to work with attorney Tom Baumann, who handled the underlying case and successfully argued the case before the Supreme Court.”

Attorney Dan Siegel provides trial and appellate court writing services to attorneys throughout Pennsylvania. Contact Dan at dan@danieljsiegel.com or (610) 446-3457.

Oral Argument Matters – Here’s Proof

There are some attorneys and judges who say that oral argument doesn’t matter. Today I have proof that it does.

On May 10, 2017, I argued the case of Erie Insurance v. Bristol before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. When I filed the petition asking the Court to take the case, the court rephrased the issue (the legal argument we wanted the Court to decide) in a very broad and somewhat unusual manner that changed the focus of the case. When we filed our Brief, we addressed the issue framed by the Supreme Court but also outlined why the argument that we had originally asserted was still relevant. This required filing a nuanced brief that responded to the Court’s concerns while also advocating for our client in the manner we believed to be most effective.

At oral argument, the Court questioned me at length (nearly 25 minutes) about whether the Brief we filed had addressed the issue as rephrased by the Court. While we believed that the Court could decide the case based on the rephrased issue, the argument focused primarily on whether the Court should have ruled based on the question we originally presented. Fortunately, I was prepared (and spent two days preparing for the argument) and was able to address the Court’s concerns.

Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – in a highly unusual action – issued an Order agreeing to decide the issue as we had originally framed it (6 Justices joined in the Order, 1 dissented). I do not believe that the Court would have issued this Order today without the benefit of oral argument.

Click here to read the Court’s Orders.

Click here to view the oral argument.

Attorney Dan Siegel Named Pa. Workers’ Compensation “Super Lawyer” – Will Anyone Know?

For the 10th consecutive year, Havertown Attorney Daniel J. Siegel has been named a “Super Lawyer” in the area of workers’ compensation (representing claimants/injured workers and medical providers). Dan, who is also the author of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law: The Basics: A Primer for Lawyers, Workers, Medical Professionals & Others, is the only workers’ compensation Super Lawyer in Havertown. In addition, many of the other Super Lawyers are clients of Dan’s, and many have retained him to assist with their most complicated cases, and their appeals.

If you are searching for a workers’ compensation Super Lawyer in Havertown, however, you will probably never find Dan’s listing. Why? Because Dan has not paid for an enhanced listing, Super Lawyers places Dan’s listing on the 7th page (out of 8 pages) of the results; despite being the only workers’ compensation Super Lawyer in Havertown, he is the 155th lawyer listed in the results for that search.

Dan regularly represents injured workers in their claims and represents medical providers seeking payment for treatment provided to injured workers; Dan also represents individuals in personal injury claims arising from motor vehicle accidents, defective conditions on property, etc. In addition, Dan represents and assists other attorneys with their appeals and complicated matters. Just this week, Dan argued the case of Erie v. Bristol before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The case will determine how the statute of limitations is triggered in uninsured motorist claims (claims that arise when a person is injured by another driver who either does not have motor vehicle insurance or who fled the scene and could not be identified).

Click here to read how Super Lawyers are selected.

12 Rules for Lawyers to Ethically Deal With Social Media

For lawyers, the issue of social media – whether it is their use of it or, God forbid, their clients’ use of it – is one that seems to pervade every area of their practices. As a result, many attorneys prefer the “head in the sand” approach, hoping that if they ignore it, it will go away.

To assist lawyers in dealing with social media, and help them address their concerns head-on, I authored an article, “12 Rules for Ethically Dealing With Social Media,” which appeared in the February 2017 issue of Business Law Today, published by the American Bar Association Business Law Section.

The article is based on my experience with clients; representing and counseling other attorneys and law firms; and as the primary author of multiple ethical guidance opinions published by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility (of which I am a Vice Chair) and the Philadelphia Bar Association Professional Guidance Committee.

In the article, I outline twelve important rules for attorneys dealing with social media, regardless of the nature of their practices. Click here to read the article.

Please vote for the Havertown Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC in the Delco’s Best Lawyers poll.

Please vote for the Havertown Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC in the Delco’s Best Lawyers poll in our major practice areas: Appellate; Personal Injury; Workers’ Compensation. To do so, go to http://pa.journalregister.com/delcotimes/toplawyers/. Here’s why we believe we have earned your support.

Our office is proud of our reputation for providing high quality legal services in an affordable client-focused manner. We are also proud that we have been recognized by our peers in Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. One of the differences that we do not often discuss is that the majority of our clients are lawyers, who hire us to handle their complex appeals, provide guidance on ethical issues, and prepare them for trial. As part of these lawyer-focused services, nearly 2,000 attorneys and judges read our monthly newsletter highlighting recent Pennsylvania appeals court decisions.

February 2017 highlighted these successes:

  • We represented a local church in defense of a claim that it did not maintain its property safely. The Philadelphia jury returned a verdict in favor of our client/the church in 40 minutes.
  • We settled the medical benefits portion of a workers’ compensation claim for $685,134.40, for a client with a serious back injury. The total settlements for this client have exceeded $800,000.00.
  • We were hired as appeals counsel in a case in which the trial court dismissed claims by two student athletes who were injured in a football practice drill. In the case, the Superior Court refused to enforce a release that would have insulated a college and others from liability. The Court agreed that a jury should decide whether the college’s failure to have qualified athletic trainers at the practice, and its use of a dangerous tackling drill, constituted gross negligence or recklessness.

For these reasons, we ask our clients and friends to vote in the poll for Delco’s Best Lawyers. Just go to http://pa.journalregister.com/delcotimes/toplawyers/.

THANK YOU FOR NEARLY 12 YEARS OF REPRESENTING OUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS & COLLEAGUES THROUGHOUT DELAWARE COUNTY AND THE PHILADELPHIA AREA!

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