The view of western Pennsylvania has changed dramatically over the last two generations and so has the way it treats its workforce.
The old picture of outdated steel mills, factory work and coal mining that produced cloudy, gray and uninviting days, is gone.
In its place, you have business leaders in technology developing robotics and artificial intelligence plus an innovative health industry recognized as a world leader.
And a workforce that is pretty well taken care of when accidents happen and workers are injured.
“When you look around, we have a stronger, more beneficial workers compensation system than most places in the country, but especially compared to the states around us,” said Adam Quatrini, a second generation workers compensation lawyer in the firm of QuatriniRafferty in Greensburg, Pa.
“That’s not something that workers think about, until they get hurt,” added Vince Quatrini, who founded the QuatriniRafferty firm and has been practicing workers compensation for more than 44 years in western Pennsylvania. “A lot of workers are living paycheck-to-paycheck and when they get hurt, they really start to appreciate the benefits they receive. It’s really a lifeline for a lot of them.”
While the foundation of western Pennsylvania’s economy has changed, many of the former industries – steelmaking, coal mining, factory work – still exist. The work is still hard, and at times, dangerous. Some workers fear their job security more than their safety.
“When workers do get hurt, they don’t want to report it because they don’t want to look like wimps and they don’t necessarily know what steps to take to get their benefits,” Vince said.
“But that’s why we’re here. We don’t want them to lose their livelihood. We want to get them in an optimistic mindset so they get the medical treatment they need and still provide for their family.”
Signs You Need a Workers Comp Attorney in Western Pennsylvania
When an accident happens on the job, it usually is obvious if a worker is injured and probably just as obvious what body part was hurt.
What’s not always obvious is whether the injured worker needs a lawyer.
If medical treatment and lost wage compensation, the two major benefits of workers compensation, are offered to the injured worker, all is well. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Insurance carriers, and sometimes employers, will dispute whether benefits are warranted. That is first of many signs that you need to speak with an attorney and protect your rights.
Some of the other signs include:
- An insurance adjuster calls you to ask for a statement.
- You get vague answers from the carrier or employer on what benefits you should be receiving.
- You suddenly are being treated differently by your employer.
- Your employer threatens to fire you if you report the injury.
- You are asked to undergo an independent medical examine (IME).
- Your employer tells you not to report the injury because he is going to pay for all the medical bills.
- The insurance carrier denies you claim.
- You have been out of work for more than two weeks because of the injury, but have not received any wage compensation.
- Your employer claims the injury did not occur at work.
“Whenever a claims adjuster or your employer questions whether you should get medical treatment, you need to speak to an attorney,” Adam Quatrini said. “And you might already be receiving benefits, but they may try to step in and take them away by putting you through a series of medical tests.
“That can become a real stressor on an injured worker and their family. That’s why you need an attorney.”
What Does a Workers Comp Attorney Do in Western Pennsylvania?
If you are injured on the job and not receiving all the benefits you think you deserve, you could argue your dispute with the insurance carrier or a judge.
And you probably would lose.
Workers compensation is a specialized branch of law that has so many subtle layers to it that if you aren’t trained and experienced, you will have a very difficult time winning your case.
“You have to start by looking at the big picture and understand that disputing a case is a six-to-12 month process,” Vince Quatrini said. “People who think they walk in and get the decision they want from a judge are mistaken.”
Among the many things a workers compensation attorney does to tilt the case in the worker’s favor are:
- Review all medical records, including prior treatment for injuries
- Find capable physicians willing to advocate for the injured worker
- Research the law to find legal issues that can be applied to the worker’s case
- Help the injured worker tell their story in compelling fashion
- Depose doctors and witnesses involved in the accident
- Understand the rules of evidence and how they apply in a case
- Run interference when there is a dispute with the insurance carrier or employer
- Negotiate settlements that maximize a worker’s benefits
- Look at additional avenues where injured worker could receive benefits such as unemployment insurance; SSI (social security insurance); long-term disability benefits for veterans
“Some of the benefits we get for our clients, they wouldn’t even know exist,” Vince Quatrini said. “We have lawyers who specialize in all areas of disability compensation. We walk our clients through each attorney’s office to see if they qualify for Social Security Disability; short-and-long term disability; and Veterans service connected disability – in order to maximize their income while disabled.”
How Do Workers Compensation Attorneys Get Paid in Western Pennsylvania
Workers compensation attorneys in Pennsylvania receive 20% of the benefit payments awarded to an injured worker when they win their case.
“The only time we get paid, is when you (the injured worker) get paid,” Adam Quatrini said.
That is what’s known as being paid on a contingency basis. In other words, the lawyer only gets paid if they settle your case with the insurance carrier for a lump-sum payment or the judge awards you benefits at the end of the trial.
There is no hourly rate charged for their services and expenses are reimbursed by the insurance company … as long as you win the case!
Judges must approve all attorney fees when the case is over.