When it comes to the legal field, why choose to work in workers’ compensation? I have spent the better part of my adult life assisting attorneys as they settle their workers’ compensation cases for maximum wage and medical benefits for injured workers in Pennsylvania. From the first signature to the last, my involvement as a legal assistant is extremely important to the worker comp lawyer and their clients.
What I have come to realize over the many years of being in comp is that most employees do not pay attention to the rules and regulations that apply to them when and if they get hurt on the job. Most do not know about the paperwork and posters hanging around a Human Resources (HR) office or in a breakroom outlining what to do if they are hurt at work or the benefits they are entitled to under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Most sign a handbook containing an entire section on workers’ compensation without ever having a clue it is there. It is my job to help them figure all of that out. Sometimes it is almost like a hypnotist session where you say “where do you eat your lunch or take your breaks? Did you see the panel list of physicians hanging in that room or were you given a list by your HR person?”
Utilizing your skills in medical treatment is a must while working the claimant’s side of a workers’ compensation case. Sometimes, you feel like you have read so many medical diagnoses, that you could pass the MCAT’s and just treat the person yourself. I know this is a silly statement but your knowledge that you have, scheduling medical treatment, making sure a client gets to their appointments, following up on reports and further treatment, in my eyes, is very fulfilling. Clients will come back and say, “Oh my goodness, I loved that doctor you recommended” or “I saw this physical therapist and they have turned my life around”. The goal in the medical treatment area is plainly to get better after all.
Once you move past the initial part of the workers’ comp process, knowing what to do next can be difficult, even more so than knowing whether there was a panel list of doctors or facilities to go to should you get hurt on the job. Hopefully, you trust in the person that contacts you from the carrier, but this is not always the case.
It is essential that you obtain legal representation as soon as you can. No one can protect you like the worker comp lawyer can in a workers’ compensation claim. It takes strategy and general legal knowledge in the field to break through all of the specifics as listed above in order to help and protect an injured worker. Most people think that if they have been a long- standing member of this employer, that they are going to get treated differently or with more compassion. Unfortunately, there is nothing further from the truth. Once a claim of any kind is filed, the insurance carrier takes over and the employer no longer has a real say in anything.
I can recite all day long the different process of each petition that may or could be filed for you. I can break every part of workers’ comp down and make you look at things from a different angle. Most of the compliments I have received over the years were just that. “Thank you for taking the time to explain that to me.”
By the time the litigation has come to an end, or even if we have just monitored your case from the beginning, hopefully there is a piece of satisfaction that you had a part in helping or making that person’s future a bit brighter. Getting a favorable decision from a Judge on a tough case or even the ones that need a bit more fighting before the Appeal Board, or the Commonwealth Court, the goal is always the same. Allowing people to get back to their lives and building a better future than the one they had. This is why I choose this field to work in.
Donna Amoroso has more than 31 years in the workers’ compensation field. She has worked in every position from file clerk to receptionist, legal secretary, legal assistant, and office manager. She currently works directly with the Managing Partner of her firm as a legal assistant and office manager.
If you have been injured at work, it is important that you are represented by an experienced, understanding worker comp lawyer. At Pearson Koutcher Law, workers’ comp. is all we do. Every one of our lawyers has at least 20 years of experience representing injured workers and will make sure that your rights are fully protected so your benefits are not cut off when they should not be. Please call us for a free, comprehensive evaluation.