Is a Lawyer Required for Every Workers Comp Claim?

The overall purpose of the workers compensation laws in Pennsylvania is to provide a means to ensure workers are fairly compensated for the expenses associated with workplace injury, without identifying blame for an accident. As such, many workers can obtain immediate medical attention after an injury at work as soon as the employer is notified of the accident. It is common for a worker who requires basic medical attention for relatively minor injuries to receive full care without ever completing a claim form or paying a bill.

Unfortunately, not all workplace injuries are straightforward. Many involve serious injuries that require extensive time away from work. When injuries are significant to severe-or in cases where claims are not considered valid-injury victims need the help of a Pennsylvania workers comp lawyer.

When a lawyer may be needed

The following are just a few examples of cases when an injured worker may need experienced legal assistance to help with a claim:

Denied claims. Your employer or the insurance company may deny your claim if they believe it to be invalid. In fact, state law does define claims to be invalid under certain situations-such as if they believe your injury was intentionally self-inflicted, or you were engaged in illegal activities (use of illegal drugs is a common allegation). Although the burden of proof is on the parties making these allegations, you need an experienced workers comp attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Reduced claims. While the fact of your accident may not be denied, your employer or the insurance company may only approve a portion of the expenses cited in your claim. Skilled workers comp lawyers can help you collect the evidence required to prove the full value of your claim and either negotiate a fair settlement or appeal the decision.

Occupational injuries and illnesses. Not all workplace injuries are the result of a specific accident. Many employees-from office workers with repetitive stress injuries to laboratory workers exposed to toxic chemicals-develop their conditions over time. State workers comp law provides a complex set of schedules that identify covered conditions. You typically need a skilled attorney to navigate the rules and develop a case that proves your claims to be valid under the law.

The bottom line is that anyone experiencing problems with a claim or uncertain of how to proceed should seek advice from an attorney specifically experienced in Pennsylvania state law. In many cases, an initial consultation is free, after which many attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. You pay no legal fees unless you receive compensation for your case.

Do You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?

A medical malpractice lawyer is unfortunately a reality for many people; is it something that needs to be a reality for you? The unfortunate truth of the matter is that medical malpractice is a great deal more common than many people think, and it can affect your life for years. If you feel as though you have been the victim of medical malpractice, it is very important to seek legal help as soon as you can. Take some time and make sure that you consider what options you may have, and that you have the legal counsel to lead you down the right path.

Although we don’t like to think about it, malpractice does happen. Medical professionals are human and acts of omission and negligence can and do happen. Medical malpractice is defined as an act or omission caused by negligence that leads to harm. While this definition is very broad, it still serves to give you an idea of what is and is not malpractice. If a doctor makes a call that would be made by anyone else in that situation with the information that was available at the time, and it turns out to be the wrong choice, that is not negligence. On the other hand, if the decision was made without a regard to the facts or due to the fact that a reasonable amount of competence was not met, this is malpractice.

If you feel as though the treatment that you would receive falls into the category of negligence, consulting with a medical malpractice lawyer should be your first step. In most if not all cases, their retainer will be paid out by your compensation, so legal fees are not even an issue for you to worry about. They have the expertise to figure out if you even have a case worth pursuing, and they can tell you a great deal about what may have happened to cause it and how it could have been handled differently. If it goes to trial, they will represent you and they have the contacts necessary to call in professional witnesses.

Some people feel that they cannot find a medical malpractice lawyer because of something they signed at the hospital, like the standard waiver forms that a hospital requires you to sign before a treatment or surgery. This is simply not true. That is important enough to repeat: that document or waiver you signed does NOT prevent you from filing a valid malpractice lawsuit. There is nothing that a hospital will have you sign that can take away your right to competent treatment! When you go to see a legal professional, bring as much paperwork as is pertinent to the issue, and be ready to provide more if the lawyer requires it. Preparing for the case can be a lengthy procedure.

Remember that medical malpractice is something that does happen, and if it happens to you, that you do have rights to legal discourse. If you suspect that negligence played a part in a recent medical issue, speak to a medical malpractice lawyer at once and find out what your options might be.

Drive: Tapping Into Lawyers’ Intrinsic Motivation

Daniel H. Pink’s 2009 book entitled “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” (“Drive”) is filled with information that is highly relevant to the legal profession today.

The central thrust of Drive is that motivating professionals like lawyers requires law firms to go beyond the traditional use of sticks and carrots, punishments and rewards. Pink argues that instead of focusing on these external motivators, what law firms need to do is tap into the intrinsic motivational drive of their lawyers. This will result in more engaging and ultimately more satisfying work. Pink argues that this will not only reduce lawyer turnover and burnout, but that it is in fact the secret to high performance.

Pink highlights three key aspects of work that make it more inherently satisfying: (i) autonomy; (ii) mastery; and (iii) purpose. He argues that these components of intrinsic motivation are interdependent and mutually reinforcing – that, like the legs of a tripod, the apparatus of excellence cannot stand without each component in place.

If there is any merit to Pink’s argument, then law firms would be well advised to pay careful attention to each of the three components of intrinsic motivation in their human resource strategies. Here are some ideas on how to do so:

(i) Autonomy: There are five main ways firms can increase their lawyers’ overall sense of autonomy. These include giving lawyers greater leeway over: (i) what to work on (subject autonomy); (ii) when to do their work (time autonomy); (iii) where to do their work (place autonomy); (iv) who to do their work with (team autonomy); and (v) how to do their work (technique autonomy). The idea here is not that firms have to grant their lawyers full autonomy over all aspects of their work. It is simply that law firms have at their disposal five separate channels along which to promote greater lawyer autonomy, and that an increase in autonomy along any one of these five channels will result in a higher level of work satisfaction.

(ii) Mastery: Law firms can promote lawyer mastery by aligning the difficulty of certain tasks with their lawyers’ overall level of skill or development. Pink calls these “Goldilocks tasks” – tasks that are neither too hard nor too difficult. The idea is that in order to develop mastery it is important for lawyers to be engaged; and in order to be engaged they must be presented with challenges that are well suited to their skill level. Tasks that are too challenging result in a sense of being overwhelmed; tasks that are too easy result in boredom; tasks that are neither too hard nor too easy, but “just right” result in engagement. Engagement, in turn, leads to mastery. Law firms that care about developing masterful lawyers should ensure that they are neither overwhelmed nor bored – that overall they are engaged by their work. If firms are able to strike this balance, their lawyers’ work becomes its own reward.

(iii) Purpose: To make their lawyers’ work more satisfying, law firms would also do well to consider increasing the emphasis they place on meaningful, not just profitable, work – that is, work that gives their lawyers a sense that they are making a positive contribution to something greater than themselves. This does not mean rejecting profit as a motive; it simply means making greater room for non-profit driven contributions. This might mean crafting a mission or vision statement that espouses genuine non-profit related values, and ensuring that incoming lawyers share those values. It might also mean placing greater emphasis on pro bono work, and perhaps including it as part of performance reviews. It might even mean hiring professional coaches to work with their lawyers. Whatever the approach, taking steps to instill a greater sense of purpose into the work life of many lawyers will ultimately make them more committed, creative, resourceful, and yes: satisfied.

It is no secret that lawyers are, in general, a notoriously unhappy lot. It is also clear that lawyers are the most important resource of any law firm. Firms that value this resource would be well advised to take seriously the ideas put forth in Drive. In the end, when lawyers are satisfied with their work, everyone stands to win – not just the lawyers themselves, but their colleagues, their firms, and most importantly their clients.