Tom Baumann receives award

Abes Baumann, P.C. is please to congratulate Tom Baumann on being awarded the 2014 George F. Douglas Jr. Amicus Curiae Award by the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, for his work in representing the interests of injured workers. The award is given to a member who has written numerous friend of the court legal briefs on behalf of the organization.

This award is further evidence of Tom’s commitment to injured workers.

Congratulations Tom.

The Soul of the Young Lawyer

Every day, we are surrounded by the material aspects of life that feed our stomachs, egos, or other physical needs. We often forget to feed the soul. There is an old theory about law students: they all start law school wanting to save the world, but by the time they graduate, they want the job that pays the most. I was the opposite. I started out in law school wanting to make as much money as possible, but as time went on, I found that the quality of the work mattered to me as much, if not more, than the money. I have come to think of those intangible aspects of a career as feeding the soul.

Representing clients in Workers’ Compensation gives me the opportunity to represent real people with real problems. My clients are suffering. They have staggering medical bills. They cannot pay the mortgage or buy food for their families. My job lets me help them.

Often, my clients have done everything right, but the insurance company won’t live up to its responsibility. The client has seen the doctors he was told to see. He has done the physical therapy prescribed. He has had the surgery recommended. He has taken the medications ordered. Through no fault of his own, his injury is one that will never fully heal. Amazingly, the insurance company still will not pay for lost wages and medical care. This is where I come in and can help them.

I feel very fortunate to have found a job that feeds my soul.

Workers’ Compensation Judges

In Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation, cases are decided by Workers’ Compensation Judges. These Judges have certain requirements that they have to meet before appointment as a Judge by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. According to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, a candidate for judge must meet the following minimum requirements:

1. Be an attorney in good standing before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

2. Have five years of Workers’ Compensation practice experience before administrative agencies or similar experience

3. Complete the course of training and instruction and pass the examination required by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

All candidates for Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge must take a civil service test. Successful candidates are hired from the top three performers on the tests in the geographical areas to which the test applies.

Judges also have a lengthy and restrictive code of ethics which they must follow. As a result of the prerequisites and the code of ethics, Pennsylvania has a group of highly qualified Workers’ Compensation Judges. If you are an injured worker appearing before a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge, you can feel confident that the Judge deciding your case has a deep knowledge of the Workers’ Compensation Act and will handle your case fairly.

When you have questions about a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case, you should feel free to contact an attorney at Abes Baumann. You will speak to a very experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer the day you call. You will not be charged anything unless you hire us and we are successful.

Dealing with Panel Doctors

Many employers set up so-called panels of medical providers to treat injured workers for work related injuries. Under the new Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation act if an employer sets up a list of at least six healthcare providers the injured worker has to treat with a provider on that list for the first 90 days of treatment. If the worker treats with someone not on the list, it would be at his/her expense. The 90 days begins to run with the first day of treatment and ends on the 90th calendar day from that point.

Many employers attempt to direct the injured worker to a specific medical provider. This can be an occupational medicine doctor that the employer sends everyone to or it could be the occupational medicine Department of local hospital. Needless to say, these referrals are very important to the physician or facility to which the injured worker is being steered. The injured worker has every right to question exactly where the loyalty of such providers actually lies. Every injured worker has the right to pick any doctor on the list with whom to treat, regardless of the preferences of the employer. Of course, if the injured worker has a back problem he cannot treat with the eye doctor on the list. So long as the physician treats the kind of problem the injured worker has, the worker can choose to see that physician. Workers should firmly but politely exercise their right to see the doctor on their list of their choosing. When in doubt about what one is able to do, injured workers should always consult a knowledgeable workers compensation attorney.

Sometimes during the 90 day surgery is recommended by one of the panel doctors. The best approach to dealing with this situation would be to wait until after the 90 days has expired, so that the injured worker can see a surgeon of his or her own choosing. The Worker’s Compensation act clearly provides that a workers compensation claimant can see any physician here she chooses after the 90 days. Our firm often recommends to our clients that he or she make an appointment with their own physician for the 91st day so as to begin the process as soon as possible.

Our Worker’s Compensation attorneys often see appointments made for injured workers near the end of the 90 day. We see panel doctors frequently releasing injured workers to full duty and/or certifying full recovery as the workers approach the 90 day deadline. The safer course for injured workers who already have an appointment scheduled after the 90th day is to avoid an examination with the panel doctor close to the 90 day deadline.

 If you, the reader, is looking for a workers compensation attorney in Pennsylvania, please feel free to call us. You will receive a no charge and no obligation consultation.

Abes Baumann Attorneys Recognized by Peers

Edward J. Abes, Thomas C. Baumann, and Douglas A. Williams have been recognized again as Super Lawyers by their peers. 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. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Tom has been named as one of the Top 50 Lawyers in Pittsburgh. This is Tom’s seventh consecutive appearance on the Top 50 list.

Congratulations to Ed, Tom, and Doug for being named Pennsylvania Super Lawyers in Workers Compensation.

Thoughts After 45 Years

When I first started to practice Workers’ Compensation Law in 1970 the most any individual could receive for lost wages as a result of a work injury was $60 per week. Now it is $932 per week. What a difference 44 years makes. However, Workers’ Compensation insurance carriers because of the increase in benefits contest many more claims and to a much greater degree.

Testimony of doctors are taken in order to prove or disprove that the injury is work-related and that the injury still exists and that it prevents the injured worker from working.

The Workers’ Compensation Judge then determines the credibility of the injured worker, witnesses and doctors.

Concerning credibility a common theme that I see running through my cases are comments by my injured workers clients that “I am not like all those others. I did get injured and seriously so.” The facts do bear out that my clients’ injuries whether it is a herniated disc, broken bone, concussion, a blown out knee or myriads of other injuries are not something that my client would be making up.

I see that often the public has the same perception that injured workers are not really injured. They should only see and talk to my clients who have no income because they cannot work, have difficulty paying their medical bills and cannot support their families. But that everyone in this country (though I wish it on no one) would suffer a work injury, they wouldn’t be so quick to think that others are malingering. In fact the amount that do so are extremely small. However, as the old saying goes, “put a drop of ink in a glass of water and whole thing turns black.” Likewise, one or two people who try to game the system make it all that much more difficult for everyone else. That just means that the truly injured worker has a harder road to hoe but justice usually prevails but not without a lot of hard work.



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