Breaking News: Supreme Court Nixes Workers’ Compensation Impairment Rating Evaluations

by Karl Voigt

At 11:00 AM today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court published its long-awaited opinion regarding the constitutionality of Pennsylvania worker’s compensation Impairment Rating Evaluations (IREs). In the vast majority of cases, these examinations serve to limit worker’s compensation wage loss benefits to 604 weeks, potentially leaving disabled workers with no source of income.

In short, the Commonwealth’s highest court ruled that the entirety of section 306(a.2) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, which created IREs in the first place , contains so many unconstitutional provisions that it must be stricken in its entirety. The Court was entirely silent on whether or not this will effect cases retroactively.

More later. In the meantime, you can download the text of the court’s opinion here.

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Elon Musks’ Leadership in the Field of Workers’ Compensation: Are You Listening PA CEOs?

By Karl Voigt

By now our readers may have heard of the Tesla factory’s reputation for work injuries. Nonprofit Worksafe, a worker safety advocacy group,  made headlines earlier this year when it reported that the injury rate at Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant was 31% higher than the industry average in 2014 and 2015. Worksafe’s report says Tesla had an overall rate of 8.8 injuries per 100 workers in 2015, with 6.7 being the average for the auto industry. The rate of more serious injuries was 7.9, compared to 3.9 for the industry that year.

Tesla has set some very, very aggressive production goals. This has yielded stress and exhaustion for the factory workers. That pressure and stress has in turn led to more injuries. There are even anecdotal reports of workers passing out while working on the production line. In May, newspaper The Guardian reported that ambulances have responded to the Tesla factory more than 100 times since 2014 for various injuries.

Elon Musk

So, what does the chief executive officer of such a company do? Ignore it? Let the workers’ compensation insurance companies sort it out? Harass his employees? Not Elon Musk. Tesla’s founder and leader has vowed that Tesla jobs will be the safest at any automaker in U.S.

First and foremost, he has taken steps to reduce workplace injuries. As an example, there are now three working shifts instead of two. Musk now meets once a week with the factory’s safety team. As a matter of fact, in 2016, Tesla’s injury rate went down significantly.

 

Musk highlighted his drive to reduce injuries in an email to all Tesla employees. Here’s the text of that communiqué:

“No words can express how much I care about your safety and wellbeing. It breaks my heart when someone is injured building cars and trying their best to make Tesla successful.

Tesla Roadster

Going forward, I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception. I’m meeting with the safety team every week and would like to meet every injured person as soon as they are well, so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform.

This is what all managers at Tesla should do as a matter of course. At Tesla, we lead from the front line, not from some safe and comfortable ivory tower. Managers must always put their team’s safety above their own.”

Are you listening, Pennsylvania chief executives?

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by | June 19, 2017 · 7:59 am

Firearms Law Seminar – August 19, 2017 at King Shooter Supply!

On August 19, 2017, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince, Attorney Adam Kraut and Attorney Eric Winter of Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®), a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., in conjunction with King Shooters Supply, will offer a four (4) hour seminar, from 1-5pm, on state and federal firearms law at their store located at  346 E Church Rd, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania 19406.

The cost is $10 and you must register early, as last time it sold out fast. You can find out further information on King Shooters Supply’s website.  To register, sign up on the website here. If there are no more spots available, the class will show out of stock. If you have questions, please feel free to contact King Shooters Supply at 610-491-9901.

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

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Are you in need of a Maryland firearms lawyer?

If you are in need of a Maryland firearms lawyer, Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®), a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., issued a press release earlier today that Chief Counsel Joshua Prince has been formally admitted by the Court of Appeal of Maryland, so that he can practice firearms law in Maryland, in addition to Pennsylvania.

Please join us in congratulating Joshua on this monumental achievement!

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

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Pennsylvania House Bill 18 Takes Aim at Workers’ Compensation Medications

by Karl Voigt

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday,  June 20 will likely be voting on its House Bill 18, which seeks to further control medications taken by Workers’ Compensation claimants. Some consider this a “foot in the door” piece of legislation that is designed to start the process of more severely limiting medications, particularly opioids.

HB18, which originates from Berks/Lehigh Counties, is being sold as a way to control opioid addiction. And that’s clearly a noble goal; Pennsylvania and perhaps even the nation is suffering from a genuine crisis. However, that’s not the actual goal of this proposal. This new legislative proposal would simply adopt one of several national “evidence-based drug formularies” that would in essence decide if a medication – or it’s dosage – is reasonable and necessary.

What HB18 seeks to do is to change the utilization review process where medications are involved. Under the present system, a carrier can challenge reasonableness and necessity of a prescription medication and it goes through a process where the medication is reviewed by a certified reviewer. He or she reviews medical records specific to the injured worker and he makes an initial decision as to whether or not the care is indeed reasonable and necessary. This, again, is based on an individual’s response to the treatment. If the treatment is found to be unreasonable and unnecessary, the injured worker can file an appeal to be heard by a judge. During that appeal, the burden of proof to convince the judge actually rests with the insurance company, no matter who filed the appeal. Regardless, the judge examines the individual’s response to the challenged care and decides accordingly.

This new legislative proposal aims to remove consideration of an individual patient’s circumstances and would simply allow or disallow medications based on a “one size fits all” table. This could in essence take your own individual medical care out of the hands of your doctors and replace their judgment with a flowchart.

Naturally, we encourage our readers to voice their opposition to this proposed bill to their elected officials.

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PA Gas Drilling Impact Fees Total Distribution Tops $1 Billion

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today (June 15, 2017) posted detailed information about this year’s distribution of Impact Fees on natural gas producers, totaling $173,258,900, on the PUC’s interactive Act 13 website.puc_seal

Over the past six years, the PUC has collected and distributed more than $1.2 billion in Impact Fees to communities across Pennsylvania.

County and municipal governments directly affected by drilling will receive a total of $93,128,340 for the 2016 disbursement year. Additionally, $62,085,600 will be placed into the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which provides financial support for environmental, highway, water and sewer projects, rehabilitation of greenways and other projects throughout the state. Also, $18 million will be distributed to state agencies specified by the Act.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with energy law and PUC matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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Are You Starting the Next “Uber”?

puc_sealAs part of an ongoing effort to address changes in the transportation industry, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today encouraged concerned parties to submit comments regarding proposed changes to the Commission’s regulations governing the motor carrier industry.

The comments submitted in response to the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be used in the PUC’s reexamination of motor carrier regulations, including businesses that transport passengers, property and household goods – as part of an effort to ensure that the transportation industry in Pennsylvania operates safely and also continues to innovate. In recent years, the oversight of these industries has evolved, in response to changes in federal law as well as market forces.

Possible topics for comment include:

  • The regulation of property carriers.
  • The regulation of group and party carriers.
  • Insurance requirements.
  • Safety requirements.
  • Fuel surcharges.
  • Fines and assessments.
  • The granting of provisional authority.
  • Web-based training for new and current carriers.
  • Various Commission General Orders, Policy Statements and guidelines for transportation utilities.
  • Any other specific considerations.

 

The comments should be submitted within 60 days of the publication of the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Comments should include references to sections of the Commission’s current regulations. They should also provide a rationale for the proposed change and include specific proposed language for changes to the regulations.  Reference Docket No. L-2017-2604692. Rulemaking for Title 52 – Regulation of Motor Carriers of Passengers and Property.

Previously, the Commission approved updated regulations intended to reduce barriers for passenger carriers and moving companies.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with energy, real estate, transportation or other PUC matters including preparation and filing of comments, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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