Tom Baumann discusses his landmark workers compensation victory – Mary Ann Protz vs. Workers Compensation Appeal Board – and other aspects of treatment for work-related injuries with Workers Compensation Experts.
Baumann’s work in the Protz case voided the use of the Sixth Edition of the American Medical Association’s Guide to Evaluation of Permanent Injuries as a reason to reduce severely injured workers status – and benefits – from permanently disabled to partially disabled.
“Our state does a reasonable job compensating minimally and moderately impaired workers,” Baumann said, “but the severely impaired … NO!”
The Pennsylvania legislature undid the court decision a year later, though the impairment rating level to move people from permanent to partial disability was reduced from 50% to 35%.
“It was a partial victory,” Baumann said. “A lot of people who had their benefits unfairly
reduced, saw total disability benefits reinstated. With the subsequent bill reducing the level to 35% impairment, more injured workers qualified for total disability benefits and that was a positive development. You’re always trying to come up with novel ways to help your client and I think we did that.”
Baumann goes on to discuss signs workers should see that their case needs help from an attorney; what workers compensation attorneys actually do to make a difference in the case’s outcome; and why it’s worth having an attorney on your side in a workers compensation claim.
New partners build on the firm’s more than 40-year history of fighting for workers’ rights
Abes Baumann announced today that attorneys James Burn, Susan Paczak, and Douglas Williams have been named partners at the firm. This appointment elevates the three lawyers after years of dedicated service to the firm and its clients.
Mr. Burn has more than 30 years of experience in the areas of workers’ compensation and social security disability, and has dedicated his professional life to helping injured people. Martindale Hubble ranks him, “AV,” the highest ranking that can be given to a practicing attorney. Prior to joining Abes Baumann, he was elected mayor of the Borough of Millvale, Pa. in 1994 and served until 2005; past chairman of the Allegheny County Democratic Party from 2006 to 2011; Allegheny County Council member from 2006 to 2013; and he is the former chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. Outside of the office he has been training and teaching at Young Brothers Tae Kwon Do Institute in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, being promoted to sixth-degree black belt by Grand Master Young Bo Kong in 2020. A 1985 graduate of Duquesne University, he earned his J.D. from the University of Dayton in 1988.
“Jim has spent his career fighting tirelessly for injured people,” said Thomas C. Baumann, partner, Abes Baumann. “His dedication to his clients and community make him the ideal partner to help build the future of our firm.”
Mr. Williams has spent more than 25 years experience in workers’ compensation law. He began his career as a law clerk at Abes Baumann, he has also clerked for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, researching and drafting decisions for workers’ compensation judges. Mr. Williams currently serves on the Amicus Committee of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, writing friend of the court briefs to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth and Supreme Courts on a variety of issues. A 1991 graduate of Grove City College, he earned a J.D. from Duquesne University in 1996.
“Doug began his career as a law clerk at Abes Baumann,” added Mr. Baumann. “It has been a true honor and delight to see him grow his career as an attorney at the firm. He represents the best of our firm and I am thrilled to have him join me as a partner.”
Ms. Paczak has spent more than 30 years in the areas of workers’ compensation, social security and veterans’ benefits. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 1980 and earned her J.D. from Duquesne University, graduating cum laude. Her experience working with veterans allowed the firm to launch its successful veterans’ benefits practice, which helps the nation’s veterans get the benefits and support they have earned. Ms. Paczak has argued precedent setting cases before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
“Susan’s work in veterans’ benefits has provided our firm with the opportunity to grow and expand our offerings,” continued Mr. Baumann. “Her dedication to the men and women of our nation’s armed services is a shining example of how we hope to serve all of our clients.”
Doug Williams’ outstanding work in the area of workers’ compensation law has once again been recognized by Best Lawyers in America. The peer-reviewed publication named Williams to their 2021 edition for his high caliber of work. Since 2010, Williams has made the list six times.
Best Lawyers in America features the top 6% of private practicing attorneys across 146 areas of law. The 2021 edition recognizes roughly 65,000 attorneys who were vetted by more than 8 million evaluations. The publication started in 1983 and continues to maintain a highly regarded and stringent review process.
We congratulate Doug’s ongoing excellence in workers’ compensation law and on achieving this designation once again.
James Burn and Douglas Williams join the workers’ compensation panels of the NFLPA and PHPA.
Our firm is pleased to announce two tremendous appointments to professional sports union legal boards. Congratulations to James Burn and Douglas Williams who were named to the workers compensation panels of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the Professional Hockey Players Association (PHPA), respectively.
“Both Doug and Jim have been relentless advocates for workers’ rights and have spent a significant amount of time working on these types of cases. This recognition highlights the caliber of work they have been doing and will continue to do,” said partner Thomas Baumann.
Burn and Williams’ appointments come at a time when professional sports organizations are seeing significant challenges due to COVID-19 and may require additional representation. This designation exemplifies their ongoing dedication to the sports industry and its players, and we are proud of their accomplishments.
Tom Baumann was once again recognized as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pittsburgh by Super Lawyers. This is the 16th consecutive year Baumann has been recognized as a Super Lawyer. Specifically, he is listed as a Top Rated Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Pittsburgh by Super Lawyers.
Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only five percent of lawyers receive this designation and are chosen based off Super Lawyer’s patented multiphase selection process, nominations received, independent research and peer evaluations.
The Abes Baumann team congratulates Tom for achieving Super Lawyers’ status once again.
Many people after a worker’s compensation injury return to work with either the employer they were working for when injured or with a new employer while under restrictions for the work injury. This often involves the offer by an employer of a modified duty position. Sometimes, the injured worker returns to work making as much as he/she did prior to the injury. Other workers make less and received partial disability benefits. Both sets of workers are entitled to a reinstatement of total disability benefits if they lose the modified duty job through no fault of their own. This would include layoffs due to the business closing as a result of COVID-19 restrictions or as a result of the current economic downturn.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Abes Baumann believe there is no inherent difference in how injured workers are treated when there is a layoff due to either the economy or restrictions caused by the pandemic. The case law in Pennsylvania tells us that injured workers who are working modified duty are entitled to reinstatement of total disability benefits if the worker loses the job “through no fault of his own.” Clearly, job losses caused by restrictions imposed by the government to deal with the pandemic falls within this definition.
If you have lost a modified duty job, please contact Abes Baumann for a free evaluation of your case. As always, you will not be charged unless the firm is successful in obtaining you benefits.
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