Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Statutory Employers in Pennsylvania

Did you know that an employee can have more than one employer while working on the same job? It happens all the time, although you might not realize it. We commonly expect that an employee can come to be in the employment relationship due to an oral or written contract, or as a result of common law. But most people may not realize that the Workers’ Compensation Act also can impose an employer-employee relationship (at least for workers’ compensation purposes) on parties who have never met.


The Workers’ Compensation Act provides that an employer, such as a general contractor on a job, can be liable to a laborer hired by another employer, such as a subcontractor. Specifically, the Act provides:


An employer who permits the entry upon premises occupied by him or under his control of a laborer or an assistant hired by an employe or contractor, for the performance upon such premises of a part of the employer’s regular business entrusted to such employee or contractor, shall be liable to such laborer or assistant in the same manner and to the same extent as to his own employee.


77 P.S. § 52. The effect of this statute is two-fold: it allows workers’ compensation coverage for an injured worker when his direct employer – typically a subcontractor to a general contractor – failed to maintain appropriate workers’ compensation coverage, and it also allows the general contractor to enjoy immunity from the personal injury lawsuits of an injured worker just like a “regular” employer of an injured worker.


As far back as 1930, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court set out a five prong test for whether an employer is a statutory employer:

(1) an employer who is under contract with an owner or one in the position of an owner

(2) premises occupied by or under the control of such employer

(3) a subcontract made by such employer

(4) part of the employer’s regular business entrusted to such subcontractor

(5) an employee of such subcontractor

McDonald v. Levinson Steel Co., 302 Pa. 287 at 294-295, 153 A. 424 at 426 (1930).



Under the second prong of McDonald, an employer’s occupancy or control must be actual, but need not be exclusive. An employer satisfies the second prong by proving either occupancy or control and it is not required to prove both. Regarding the fourth prong, this statutory requirement is met when the subcontracted work is an obligation assumed by a principal contractor under its contract with the owner, or one in the position of an owner. Braun v. Target Corp., --- A.2d ----, 2009 Pa.Super 206 (October 23, 2009).


In this day and age, it is thankfully rare for a subcontractor to fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance, so the statutory employer provision is rarely invoked for purposes of covering injured workers. Therefore, this statute is more frequently utilized as a shield when a worker who is injured while working for a subcontractor attempts to bring a civil personal injury lawsuit against the general contractor on the job. The general contractor, under the statute, is immune from suit even if it does not actually have to pay workers’ compensation to the injured worker.


Construction of the statutory employer provisions of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act is complex for both workers’ comp lawyers and personal injury lawyers. Persons with questions about the application of this Act should contact experienced counsel to determine their rights.


Our attorneys at Wolf, Baldwin & Associates are able to answer your questions regarding Pennsylvania's Workers' Compensation and all issues regarding Statutory Employers in Pennsylvania. Our lawyers are experienced in workers' compensation cases, representing both employees and employers. Please click here to contact us.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 – A Capsule Summary

As President Bush neared the end of his term of service, he signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”). Effective as of January 1, 2009, the main purpose of these various amendments was to expand the definition of “disability”, thereby providing broader coverage to those individuals working with impairments. The Amendments also clarified many other issues which developed over the preceding nineteen years of interpretation by the courts of the United States. While limited by the available space for this particular article, the following information will provide a brief summary of the most important aspects of these Amendments as they impact employers and disabled workers.



The federal government enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”) in an effort to prevent discrimination against disabled individuals in “all aspects of society”. (The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Primer for Small Business, Page2). Enforcement of the various provisions of the ADA is overseen by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). On the state level, Pennsylvania also enacted legislation to prevent discrimination against disabled individuals which essentially mirrors most of the protections offered by the ADA. This legislation, the Pennsylvania Human Relation Act (“PHRA”), is governed and enforced by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The interplay of the PHRA with the ADA is, unfortunately, beyond the scope of this article.



Under the ADA, an employer with fifteen (15) or more employees may not discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability and must make reasonable accommodations for disabled job applicants and employees, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. The regulations promulgated by the EEOC and several United States Supreme Court cases ultimately led to a narrowing of the definitions of these various terms and thereby the effective coverage of the ADA. One of the major concerns addressed by the ADAAA was the determination of what individuals were actually protected by the ADA pursuant to the definition of “disability”.



Under the original definition in the ADA, a “disability” was considered as, (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limited one or more major life activities; (2) having a recorded history of such an impairment, or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment. As you can imagine, these categories led to even further interpretation and limitation by the EEOC regulations and the Supreme Court’s decisions.



In an effort to expand the definition of “disability” and clarify these various interpretations, the ADAAA effectively changed the way that the terms of the definition should be viewed. While maintaining the original definition, the ADAAA expands the category of “major life activities” to include two clear and - more importantly - non-exhaustive collections of such activities. The first collection of activities includes many of the previously recognized activities such as caring for oneself, walking, speaking, hearing, learning, seeing, working, performing manual tasks, and breathing. To this list, the ADAAA added such activities as reading, bending, concentrating, and thinking. The second collection of activities encompass major bodily functions such as digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, immune system, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, reproductive and normal cell growth. Importantly, neither of these lists is considered comprehensive; but rather, these various entries are only some, but not all, of the activities which may be considered major life activities.



The ADAAA also includes in the definition of disability medical conditions that may be in remission or considered episodic, but would substantially limit a major life activity when actually active. A good example of this type of a condition is diabetes.



With regard to the third category of disability, the ADAAA now considers a covered individual to be one who is “regarded as” disabled when subject to an action that is prohibited by the ADA (such as, termination or failing to hire the individual when otherwise qualified for the position) where the action was based on an impairment that is not considered either transitory or minor. Also of note, individuals who fall within this category of “regarded as” are not entitled to reasonable accommodations.



One of the main decisions of the United States Supreme Court which was overturned by the ADAAA was the case of Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471 (1999). In this case, the Supreme Court held mitigating measures such as medications, medical equipment, etc. were to be taken into consideration whenever conducting an analysis regarding a determination as to whether a qualifying disability existed. In direct contrast to this holding, the Amendments now provide that such analysis of whether an individual is disabled under the definition of the Act should be made without regard to any mitigating factors, except for the use of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses.



While it would seem the ADAAA favors only the disabled employee or individual seeking employment, employers subject to the ADA may still raise the argument of “undue hardship” when defending against a request for reasonable accommodations. The ADA defines “reasonable accommodations” as adjustments or modifications which can be made by an employer so as to enable a person with a qualified disability to experience equal employment opportunities. However, when any such accommodations “result in significant difficulty or expense”, then the employer need not provide such accommodations. (The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Primer for Small Business, Page 7). Also, the ADAAA prohibits reverse discrimination claims by other employees against their employers where disabled employees are provided reasonable accommodations to which other employees without such disabilities are not entitled.



At the present time, the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are involved in evaluating new and proposed regulations to administer the new provisions of the ADAAA. The final version of the regulations should be available sometime early next year.



While this article can only provide a very brief summary and general overview of some of the considerations of the Amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act, all employers regardless of the size of their workforce should be aware of the various ramifications of all state and federal laws and regulations which are designed to protect against discrimination in the workplace. For further advice regarding these issues, as well as new topics and trends in business and employment law, please feel free to contact the attorneys at Wolf, Baldwin and Associates.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Breach of Personal Information Notification Act

On December 22, 2005, Pennsylvania joined a number of other states which seek to protect consumers from security breaches involving unauthorized distribution of personal information. This new law, which took effect on June 20, 2006, is called the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act, and it can be found at 73 P.S. § 2301 et seq.. Simply put, the Act seeks to force businesses to promptly notify residents of the Commonwealth when any of their personal information has fallen into the wrong hands, or when the security of its records is breached.

The new law is broadly drafted, touching every single entity doing business in the Commonwealth, whether for-profit or non-profit, whether multinational or a sole proprietorship. A “business” is defined in the Act as “a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, association or other group, however organized and whether or not organized to operate at a profit, including a financial institution organized, chartered or holding a license or authorization certificate under the laws of this Commonwealth, any other state, the United States or any other country, or the parent or the subsidiary of a financial institution. The term includes an entity that destroys records.”

By its terms, the Act seeks to protect “personal information,” which is defined as an individual’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with and linked to any one or more of the following data elements when the data elements are not encrypted or redacted: (i) Social Security number; (ii) Driver’s license number or a State identification card number issued in lieu of a driver’s license; (iii) Financial account number, credit or debit card number, in combination with any required security code, access code or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account. The definition of personal information does not include publicly available information that is lawfully made available to the general public from Federal, State or local government records.

Two words in the above definition of “personal information” are further defined by the Act: “encryption” and “redact.” Encryption, as defined in the Act, is the use of an algorithmic process to transform data into a form in which there is a low probability of assigning meaning without use of a confidential process or key. “Redact” includes, but is not limited to, alteration or truncation such that no more than the last four digits of a Social Security number, driver’s license number, State identification card number or account number is accessible as part of the data.

A further definition is important to understand the meaning of the Act. “Breach of the security of the system” is defined as the unauthorized access and acquisition of computerized data that materially compromises the security or confidentiality of personal information maintained by the entity as part of a database of personal information regarding multiple individuals and that causes or the entity reasonably believes has caused or will cause loss or injury to any resident of this Commonwealth.

The definition sections of the Act leaves open the question of whether the theft of a handwritten client list with names, Social Security numbers, account numbers, and security codes would fail to trigger the Act because the list was not “computerized data.” One is also left to ponder the effect of the word “materially.” This is because there is an unavoidably some subjectivity in such wording, such that the notice provisions could conceivably be ignored if the security or confidentiality of the personal information is deemed not to be “materially” compromised. Only time, and the eventual litigation over these issues, will allow a business’ true obligations under this law to be comfortably understood.

With these definitions in mind, we turn to the heart of the Act – the notice requirement. The Act provides that an entity that maintains, stores or manages computerized data that includes personal information shall provide notice of any breach of the security of the system following discovery of the breach of the security of the system to any resident of this Commonwealth whose unencrypted and unredacted personal information was or is reasonably believed to have been accessed and acquired by an unauthorized person. The notice must be made without unreasonable delay unless a law enforcement agency determines that the notice will impede an investigation or will compromise national or homeland security. A vendor that maintains the data on behalf of another entity must provide notice of any breach of its systems to entity for which it stores the records, which entity then has the obligation to provide the required notice.

One last definition, then, is crucial. What is the required notice?

The Act requires that notice be provided by any of the following methods:

(1) written notice to the last known home address for the individual;

(2) telephonic notice, if the customer can be reasonably expected to receive it and the notice is given in a clear and conspicuous manner, describes the incident in general terms and verifies personal information but does not require the customer to provide personal information and the customer is provided with a telephone number to call or Internet website to visit for further information or assistance;

(3) e-mail notice, if a prior business relationship exists and the person or entity has a valid e-mail address for the individual; or

(4) substitute notice, if the entity demonstrates that the cost of providing notice would exceed $100,000, or the affected class of subject persons to be notified exceeds 175,000, or the entity does not have sufficient contact information. Substitute notice consists of (1) e-mail notice when the entity has an e-mail address for the subject persons, (2) conspicuous posting of the notice on the entity’s Internet website if the entity maintains one, and (3) notification to major Statewide media.

The penalties for violating the Act are potentially severe. A violation is deemed to be an unfair or deceptive act or practice in violation of Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Only time will tell what the real effect of the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act will be. However, any person or entity maintaining the personal information of Pennsylvania residents will be wise to become familiar with the requirements of the Act, and should prepare plans for how to deal with a potential breach of security.

Our attorneys at Wolf, Baldwin & Associates are able to answer your questions regarding the protection of your personal information. Our lawyers are experienced in handling this type of case work representing both employees and employers. Please click here to contact us.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Terminating Workers' Compensation Medical Benefits in Pennsylvania

Employees who have been injured at work and are receiving workers’ compensation benefits have a number of rights related to the medical portion of their claims. Injured persons receiving workers’ compensation benefits should realize that those benefits are essentially comprised of two aspects – medical and indemnity. The indemnity portion of workers’ compensation benefits are the weekly or biweekly checks which compensate injured workers for their lost wages. The medical portion of benefits pertains to the cost of any medical treatment related to the injury. The precise nature of what is covered under the medical portion of a claim can be quite confusing, but generally all medical treatment which is reasonable, necessary, and related to the accepted injury is the responsibility of the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.

Many of our clients ask how their medical benefits can be challenged or even stopped once they have started. Before covering those issues, injured workers should know some of the general principles governing their medical benefits.

First, when benefits are awarded, either by a Workers’ Compensation Judge, or by a document issued by an insurance carrier (called a Notice of Compensation Payable or “NCP”, or an Agreement for Compensation), there is usually a defined and accepted injury. Examples of an accepted injury would be “low back strain and sprain,” or “knee sprain.” This “accepted” injury is important because it defines exactly what body part the insurance carrier is responsible for covering. For example, if the accepted injury is “knee sprain” the insurance carrier may balk at paying for treatment related to an ankle injury, even if that injury occurred along with and at the same time as the original injury.

Any discrepancies in the injury description can be corrected (within any applicable statutes of limitation) by having an attorney file a petition to review the description of injury. With this petition the injured worker can ask a Judge to amend the injury description to include additional body parts by proving that those injuries are also related to the original injury. However, until the Judge issues an order officially adding to the description of injury, the insurance carrier will not be responsible for treatment of any injuries but the officially accepted injury. This concept is often troublesome to injured workers because litigation over an injury description can often take well over nine months, and until the description is officially amended by a Judge, additional treatment to any parts of the body that are not officially accepted will be denied.

If an insurance carrier chooses to challenge the reasonableness or necessity of medical treatment it can request a Utilization Review (“UR”). This process challenges past or future treatment by having it reviewed by the same type of provider. For example, if an insurance carrier wishes to challenge chiropractic care, it will be reviewed by a third party chiropractor. During this process (which will usually take 30 days), the insurance carrier will not be responsible for paying any bill submitted by that chiropractor. It is important to note that only the bills of the chiropractor under review are temporarily not paid. All other providers’ bills must still be paid. This rule is often not followed by insurance carriers. Workers’ compensation carriers will often file a UR request and then believe they can decline to pay any medical bills.

Once the UR reviewer makes a determination about the reasonableness or necessity of treatment, either party can then appeal the outcome to a workers’ compensation judge. However, during this process all bills must still be paid if the UR determination is positive for the injured worker.

Having covered some of the basics of the medical portion of a claim, the questions still remains, how can an injured worker’s medical benefits be stopped? Generally, there are two ways that medical benefits for an officially accepted injury can be stopped. First, the worker can settle his or her case in exchange for a lump sum of money. If the settlement includes a cessation of medical benefits, they will often stop as of the day a Judge officially approves the settlement. Working out the specific details of settlements is best left to workers’ compensation attorneys who can make sure that all aspects of a claim are considered as part of the settlement, including medical benefits, and thus all injured workers contemplating a settlement should contact an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney.

The other way that medical benefits can be stopped is if the insurance company successfully litigates a termination petition. To win a termination petition, the insurance carrier must prove that the injured worker is fully recovered, and can return to his or her pre-injury job without restrictions. The burden of proof is very high on these petitions; thus, they are rarely successful.

The injured worker will attend an independent medical exam, often called an IME, and if the IME doctor opines that the injured worker’s injured has ceased entirely, and that the worker can return to work without restrictions, the carrier can then file the termination petition. The injured worker can defend this petition by presenting testimony of his or her own treating doctor to show that the injury continues and that the worker cannot return to work without restrictions. This litigation typically lasts more than nine months and, as mentioned, is rarely successful. However, with the addition of other evidence, such as surveillance, the insurance carriers, from time to time, can convince a judge that the injured worker is fully recovered. Once the judge rules that the workers’ disability has ceased entirely, the insurance carrier is no longer responsible to pay for any medical treatment.

Other than the two possibilities discussed above, once an injury is officially accepted, the insurance carrier is responsible for all related medical treatment. And despite the misconceptions to the contrary, it could potentially be responsible for that treatment for the rest of the injured workers’ life. Issues surrounding workers’ compensation medical benefits are complicated and this article only touches on the basics. Employers and injured workers with questions about terminating a claimant’s medical treatment should speak with an attorney who is well-versed in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law.

Our attorneys at Wolf, Baldwin & Associates are able to answer your questions regarding Pennsylvania's Workers' Compensation and collateral benefits. Our lawyers are experienced in workers' compensation cases, representing both employees and employers. Please click here to contact us.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pennsylvania's new 'mini-COBRA' law of 2009

On June 10, 2009, Governor Edward G. Rendell signed into law Act 2 of 2009, under which covered employees who lose group health insurance coverage as a result of a qualifying event are eligible for continuation coverage. This new law has similarities to the federal COBRA law, hence the name “Mini-COBRA.” Both laws provide for the continuation of health insurance coverage in certain situations. This new law took effect on July 10, 2009.


The Mini-COBRA law applies only to employees of small businesses, i.e. those with two to nineteen employees. After the cessation of employment, the law gives eligible employees the right to buy continuation coverage for up to nine months after their employment ends. The employee must have been continuously insured under the group policy for three consecutive months ending with the employee’s termination. Employees are required to pay for the continuation coverage on a monthly basis.


Covered employees and/or their dependents will be eligible for continuation coverage where they have lost group coverage due to a “qualifying event”. This can be the death of the covered employee, the termination of employment, a reduction in hours, divorce or separation, eligibility for Medicare, change in dependent status, or the bankruptcy of the employer.


The new law requires that the continuation coverage must include the benefits provided under the group policy. Mini-COBRA applies to hospital, surgical, and major medical policies only.


If the employee subsequently becomes eligible for a new employer’s health insurance coverage or for Medicare, they are no longer eligible for Mini-COBRA.
Insurance companies are required to notify policyholders (employers) of the new law by or before August 24, 2009. Small employers should collaborate with their group health plan insurers to make sure the requirements of the new Mini-COBRA are met. Employees who have been involuntarily terminated on or after the effective date of the act (July 10, 2009) and before January 1, 2010 may be eligible for premium assistance under the federal stimulus law (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).


For additional information on Mini-COBRA, you can visit the Pennsylvania Insurance Department website, and search for "mini-cobra", or you can call the following phone numbers: Automated Consumer Hotline: 1-877-881-6388; Philadelphia Regional Office: (215) 560-2630.

Employers or employees who have questions regarding a person's rights should contact the attorneys at Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C. for further information or to schedule a consultation

Friday, July 10, 2009

What’s Next? Typical Strategies for Stopping Workers’ Compensation Payments

Some injured workers claims are readily accepted and some must be litigated, but there will come a time in almost every claim when workers’ compensation benefits will stop. When injured workers in Pennsylvania are receiving workers’ compensation wage loss benefits, there are only a limited number of ways in which an employer or its insurance carrier can seek to reduce or modify those benefits. "What happens after an IME?", "What is the IME capability of a claimant?", "What is the impact of an IME on a claimant?", or "Will an IME interrupt the flow of a workers comp claim after a medical examination or evaluation?", this article will review these aspects of the workers comp process after an IME and discuss some of those strategies.

Firstly, it is important to realize that claimants’ wage loss (also called “indemnity”) benefits are calculated as a function of their pre-injury average weekly wage. In general, the idea behind the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act is that if the claimant cannot earn his or her pre-injury wages as a result of the work injury, the claimant is entitled to either total disability benefits or partial disability benefits. Employers and their insurers have an interest in cutting off or reducing those benefits. That process typically starts with a medical exam so that the employer can assess the claimant’s medical restrictions. This exam is commonly referred to as an Independent Medical Exam, or IME, or a Defense Medical Exam, or DME. It has generally been accepted that an employer is entitled to a physical examination every six months, although there are circumstances in which the injured worker can challenge the reasonableness or the frequency of an examination.

Typically the IME doctor will release the claimant to return to some kind of work. If the doctor gives the opinion that the claimant’s injury has ceased entirely and the claimant can return to full duty, the employer will likely file a Termination Petition seeking an Order from a Workers’ Compensation Judge. If the employer is successful in terminating a claimant’s benefits, then both wage loss benefits and medical benefits will be stopped.

If the IME doctor says that the employee’s injury has not completely healed, but that the employee can return to modified duty work, then the employer will seek to file a Modification or Suspension Petition. Both of these petitions seek to change wage loss benefits only, as all treatment which is reasonable, necessary, and related to the continuing injury will still be paid for by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. A suspension is appropriate when the injured workers’ earnings are no longer affected by the work injury. For instance, if after receiving the IME report the employer offers the injured worker a light duty job which falls within the restrictions of the IME doctor, the burden then shifts to the claimant to either try the job or explain why he cannot do the job in good faith. This scenario is frequently played out in workers’ comp courtrooms, where the IME doctor has an opinion as to what the injured worker can do, but the worker’s own treating doctor has a very different opinion, and the judge must decide which doctor is to be believed. Even if the injured worker would make less than her pre-injury wages by working light duty, the employer can still be entitled to a modification of the worker’s wage loss benefits – this is referred to as “partial disability,” meaning that wage loss benefits will continue, but at a reduced rate, and only for a maximum of 500 weeks.

Often the time-of-injury employer cannot accommodate the light duty restrictions of the IME doctor, and therefore cannot offer the injured worker a job. There are two other common strategies used by these employers to seek to reduce the workers’ wage loss benefits. One is to find the worker a job which accommodates the restrictions with a different company altogether. Another is to have the claimant undergo a vocational interview, to assess the claimant’s residual earning capacity, taking into account the claimant’s age, work history, medical restrictions, and skills. This is called an Earning Power Assessment. The vocational expert can then perform a labor market survey to determine whether there are any jobs in the local economy which are appropriate for and actually available to the injured worker. If so, the employer can file a petition with the Workers’ Compensation Bureau to seek to modify or suspend the injured worker’s benefits based on the earnings the worker might be able to earn at the jobs identified by the vocational expert.

It is important to know that in most instances a claimant who is receiving benefits cannot simply be “cut off” by any of these strategies. The flow of a workers’ compensation claim after a medical exam can take many different paths, but the majority of those paths require litigation and the order of a Workers’ Compensation Judge before the employer or its insurance carrier can simply stop or modify the claimant’s benefits. This article is by no means an exhaustive list of the ways in which an employer can reduce an employee’s benefits, nor does it seek to discuss the many and varied defenses which a claimant might have in order to preserve his or her benefits. Any injured worker or employer with questions about these issues is well-advised to consult with experienced workers’ compensation counsel.

The attorneys of Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C. are no strangers to Pennsylvania workers' compensation courtrooms. We have been practicing in this specific area of the law for over thirty years. Insurance companies will always be represented by workers' compensation attorneys who are experienced in PA workers comp law. You require, and deserve, expert advice as well. If the insurance company unfairly denies you your rights, we will fight the workers' comp insurance carrier for your right to receive Workers' Compensation in Pennsylvania. Please click here to contact us now to learn more about your right to PA workers compensation.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pennsylvania's surge in unemployment claims leads nation

According to today's article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Unemployment across the state rose by four-tenths of a percentage point in May, bringing the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate up to 8.2 percent, more than a full percentage point below the national rate of 9.4 percent. In May, 532,000 people were unemployed in Pennsylvania, 206,000 more than in May 2008."

The manufacturing sector Manufacturing has lost a total of 73,200 jobs since May 2008 and continued to lose jobs last month. There has also been 9,600 Information Services jobs lost since this time last year.

According to a UPI article today, Pennsylvania's additional 6,861 first time claims was the most in the country last week. Nationwide, there was a decrease of 148,000 people receiving unemployment compensation benefit claims. This is the first time since January that there has been a drop in the number of those receiving unemployment compensation benefits. However, it is believed that this is more likely the result of people exhausting the standard unemployment benefits rather than finding new employment.

If you, or someone you know, find themselves in need of filing an unemployment compensation benefit claim or if you have nearly exhausted your standard unemployment compensation, it is important that you know what you are entitled to in this dire economic climate. If you feel that your unemployment compensation claim is being denied unfairly, or if you feel that you may not be receiving all that you are entitled to, feel free to contact our staff of benefit compensation lawyers by clicking here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pennsylvania’s New Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act

The Tri-County Area is no stranger to home improvement contract scams. Anyone who has paid attention to the local newspapers over the past few years will recall the scandals and prosecutions of home improvement contractors gone bad – of contracts not honored, and of unearned deposits not refunded. It appears that the Pennsylvania legislature has heard those stories as well, for on July 1, 2009, a new Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act will take effect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Act, located at 73 Pa.C.S. § 517.1 et. seq., is replete with numerous definitions, requirements, prohibitions and penalties. While many lawyers will be spending many hours learning the details of the Act and the interplay between and among its various provisions, we can now report on at least some of the basic details of the Act.

“HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR”

The Act applies to any person who owns and operates a home improvement business or who undertakes offers or agrees to perform any home improvement, including a subcontractor who has contracted with a home improvement retailer to provide home improvement services to the retailer’s customers. But the Act does not apply to a person for whom the total cash value of all of that person’s home improvements is less than $5,000.00 during the previous taxable year. Most provisions of the Act also do not apply to home improvement retailers having a net worth of more than $50,000,000.00 or any employee of that retailer that does not perform home improvements, thus excluding from the scope of most of the Act entities such as Home Depot or Lowe’s when those entities do no more than sell home improvement materials. In such a case, while the subcontractor who installs materials bought from the large retailer will be governed by the Act, the large retailer, in most particulars, will not be.

“HOME IMPROVEMENT”

The term “home improvement” is broadly defined to include most repair, replacement, remodeling, demolition, renovation, installation, alteration, conversion, modernization, improvement, rehabilitation and sandblasting work done in connection with land or a portion of land adjacent to a private residence, so long as the total cash price of all work agreed upon between the contractor and owner is more than $500.00. The term “home improvement” also includes construction, replacement, installation or improvement of driveways, swimming pools, porches, garage roofs, HVAC and solar energy systems, security systems, flooring, patios, fences, gazebos, sheds, windows, awnings and waterproofing.

However, the term does not include the construction of a new home or the sale of goods and materials by a seller who neither arranges nor performs installation work. The term also does not include the sale of services furnished for a commercial or business use or for resale if the service takes place somewhere other than at a private residence. Nor does the term include the sale of appliances, such as stoves, refrigerators, freezers and room air conditioners, which are designed for and are easily removable from the premises without material alteration. The term “home improvement” also does not include the services of a landscaper except to the extent that the services include any of the installations noted above.
The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act only applies to work done in connection with a “private residence,” which term includes a single family dwelling, a multifamily dwelling consisting of not more than two units, or any single unit located within any multifamily dwelling, including condominiums and co-op units.

REGISTRATION REQUIREMENT

The first major restriction of the Act is set out at Section 517.3, which provides that “no person shall hold themselves out as a contractor, nor shall a person perform any home improvement without first registering” with the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General. This registration requirement is critical because the information required to be included in an application for registration includes not only the name and home address or any individual applicant or the officers, managers and general partner of any partnership, corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership applicant, but also such additional information as driver’s license number, Social Security number, and all prior business names and addresses of home improvement businesses operated by that individual, partner, officer, or manager.

In addition, in applying for such registration, the applicant must state whether the individuals making the application, even if applying as part of a larger business entity, have ever been convicted of any criminal offense related to a home improvement transaction, fraud, theft, a crime of deception or any crime involving fraudulent business practices, as well as a statement of whether the applicant has ever filed a petition of bankruptcy or, within the last ten years had a final civil judgment entered against the applicant or business in which the applicant held an interest that was related to a home improvement transaction. The contractor must provide proof of liability insurance covering personal injury in an amount not less than S50.000.00, and covering property damage caused by the work or the home improvement contractor in an amount not less than $50,000.00.

While the Act does not provide the Bureau of Consumer Protection with discretion to deny the issuance of a license to anyone who has paid the required S50.00 application fee and provided the required information, the Act does provide for public access to registration information (excluding Social Security number, driver’s license number and other such confidential information) by a toll-free telephone number and by posting on the Bureau’s internet website.

ADVERTISING REQUIREMENTS

When the home improvement contractor registers with the Bureau of Consumer Protection the contractor is assigned a registration number. Under Section 517.6 of the Act, this registration number must be included in all of the contractor’s advertisements, contracts, estimates and proposals created by the contractor after July 1, 2009. The registration number must be included not only in the more obvious forms of advertising, such as television, radio, newspaper and billboard advertising, but also on letterhead, business cards and promotional materials such as clothing and pens. In short, no home improvement contractor will be permitted to use any form of advertising or promotional material that does not allow the consumer to trace that contractor through a registration number to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection.

REQUIREMENTS AND PROHIBITIONS FOR HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTS

In addition, the Act at Section 517.7 requires that in order for a home improvement contract to be valid and enforceable against the owner of residential real estate, that contract must be in the form of a signed writing bearing the contractor’s registration number. The contract must set forth the entire agreement, including, among other things, the approximate start date and completion date, a complete description of the work to be performed, the total sales price due under the contract, and the amount of any down payment required plus any amount to be advanced for the purchase of special order materials. In order to avoid confusion, the Act requires that the amount of the down payment and the cost of special order materials be listed separately. The Act also prohibits a contractor from changing the contract specifications without a written change order signed by both the owner and contractor. Further, the Act requires that any contract include a notice of the owner’s right to rescind the contract without penalty within three business days of the date of signing, regardless of where the contract was signed.

The Act also prohibits a home improvement contract from containing various terms, including the waiver of building code requirements, confession of judgment clauses, the waiver of a right to a jury trial, wage assignment clauses, provisions that the contractor be awarded attorneys fees and costs, and, perhaps most importantly, the waiver of any rights provided under the Act. It must be noted that even though a home improvement contract can be voided by the homeowner if it fails to contain required terms, or if it contains prohibited terms, the home improvement contractor would still have a right to recover the reasonable value of services for work he or she has actually performed if it would be inequitable to the contractor to deny him or her such recovery.

“HOME IMPROVEMENT FRAUD”

The Act at Section 517.8 also makes “home improvement fraud” a criminal offense, punishable as either a felony of the third degree or a misdemeanor of the first degree, depending upon the nature of the violation and the amount involved. “Home improvement fraud” is defined to include a number of related offenses, including the making of false or misleading statements to induce, encourage or solicit one to enter into a written or oral agreement for home improvement services, receiving advance payments for performing home improvement services and failing to perform or provide those services or materials when specified in the contract, with exceptions for force majeure or unforeseen labor strikes. The definition of home improvement fraud” also includes misrepresenting or concealing a contractor’s identity while soliciting a person to enter into an agreement for home improvement services, damaging a person’s property with the intent to induce, encourage or solicit a person to enter into a contract for home improvement services, misrepresenting an item as a special order material or misrepresenting the cost of any special order material, and directly or indirectly publishing a false or deceptive advertisement in violation of the Act. It must be noted that the definition of “home improvement fraud” is more extensive than noted above, but cannot be cited fully due to the confines of space. Home improvement contractors would be well advised to consult with counsel regarding their legal rights and prohibitions prior to the July 1st effective date of the new Act.

“PROHIBITED ACTS”

Finally, the Act sets forth a number of “prohibited acts” which, though not necessarily constituting crimes, can result in the imposition of civil liability. These prohibited acts include the failure to refund the amount paid for home improvements within ten days after demand if no substantial portion of the contract work has been performed at the time of the request, and if more than forty-five days have elapsed since the starting date specified in the written contract. Other prohibited acts include, but are not limited to, the abandonment or failure to perform, without justification, any home improvement contract engaged in or undertaken by a contractor, the deviation from plans or specifications without a written change order signed by the parties, advertising to perform a home improvement without intent to perform or charge for the home improvement as advertised and, for home improvements for which the total price is more than $1,000.00, receiving a deposit in excess of one-third of the home improvement contract price or one-third of the home improvement contract price plus the cost of any special order materials that have been ordered.

The Act also prohibits a home improvement contractor from changing the contractor’s name, address, liability insurance information or any other identifying information in a fraudulent or deceptive manner likely to cause confusion or misunderstanding without advising the owner in writing within ten days following any such change. The Act further provides that any violation of any of the provisions of the Act is deemed to be an Unfair Trade Practice under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Thus, any violation of the Act is subject to the award of not just actual damages, but also, potentially, treble damages and attorneys’ fees.

While it is likely take years for the courts to flesh out the details of the Act and interpret its many provisions, there can be no doubt that the Act will have broad consequences for both home improvement contractors and home owners. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania home improvement contractors should consult with their legal counsel before July 1, 2009 to ensure that they are in compliance with the Act prior to its effective date.

Our attorneys at Wolf, Baldwin & Associates are able to answer your questions regarding the new Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection laws. Our lawyers are experienced in consumer protection cases, representing both consumer and contractor. Please click here to contact us to resolve any questions that you may have.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

PA considering role in real estate property tax assessments

A recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court forcing Allegheny County to reassess real estate property values has highlighted an issue that has angered many property owners across the state. The ruling states that the base year system for property values, with no set review interval, is unconstitutional because it doesn't accommodate changes in property values over time. Currently, property value reassessment is handled at the county level and is done at irregular intervals. Butler County for example hasn’t reassessed in 40 years. Since reassessment often means an expense to the county and an increase in property taxes (thus raising the ire of the tax payers), it is not something counties are eager to do to often.

State Representative John Yudichak (D) has a plan to fix these issues and bring equity to the assessment of property values across the state. An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gives details on a proposal he’s working on to create a State Office of Reassessment. He understands the difficulties in reassessment as his county – Luzerne – recently reassessed at a cost of $9 million. The county hadn’t been reassessed in 40 years and now many residents are taking the county to court to fight the higher taxes. Yudichak believes that a state wide standard for reassessments would alleviate some of the inherent problems of the current system. “We are trying to achieve fairness with property valuation, higher taxes aren’t the goal” he’s quoted as saying in the article. His is an idea that seems to be gaining momentum. The principle of his idea seems to have wide spread support; including Governor Rendell’s office, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, and even Republicans such as Bucks County’s Scott Petri. There is some concern whether it can be done legislatively though. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee has been asked to study what other states have done and make recommendations.

If you feel your property has been unfairly assessed, please contact us to make sure your rights in real estate law are being represented.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

PA Unemployment and Claims Dip, Forced Furlough May Be Cause Though

34,000 people filed for unemployment benefit claims last week, which is down from 36,000 in the previous week. Still, more than 364,000 residents of Pennsylvania continued to receive unemployment compensation benefits. While that figures shows an overall drop about about 7,000 from the previous week, it is worthy to note that these figures are still twice as high as they were at this time last year.

One possible reason for the drop in unemployment numbers and unemployment compensation claims filed is the rise in the practice of forced furlough. Many Pennsylvania employers have used the furlough program as a cost-cutting measure for the company without actually breaking ties and terminating the employment of the worker. A furlough, in this respect, is an unpaid leave that the employee is forced to accept. David Smith from the Department of Labor and Industry, recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"If workers are forced to take a furlough week, "They should file a claim right away, as soon as they experience the furlough," said Mr. Smith.

Signing up beginning with the first furlough week is important because the worker will be eligible for unemployment benefits during the next period of unpaid leave, as long as it occurs within the next 12 months.

Some people make the mistake of not signing up during that first week because they have been told there's no point since benefits aren't accrued until the second week of unemployment.

That's true, but the unemployment clock starts ticking after a claim is filed.

If someone doesn't file a claim until the second week of furlough, it's like the first week didn't count."

Even though the number of claims have dropped slightly, there is still a tremendous burden on the state's unemployment compensation fund and they have been forced to borrow more money to cover claims. While this is providing immediate relief to workers, it will carry a long term burden of having employers face higher tax rates to pay back the Federal loans.

While the situation appears dire, it is important for workers who feel they have an unemployment or workers compensation claim are aware that there is still funding for them and should not be discouraged. Employers, including cities and states, take out unemployment and workers compensation insurance coverage policies that ensure coverage.

Employers are not required to have legal representation in Unemployment Compensation cases..However, to ensure that you are adequately represented, and are exploring all possible options of entitlement, it is recommended that you seek council or adequate representation that will represent your best interests. The staff at Wolf, Baldwin and Associates is available to you to discuss your legal options during these times. If you feel that you may need representation, you are free to contact us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Unemployment rates hit 16 year high, compensation benefits extended

The recently released report from the Department of Labor shows that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate has risen to 7.8%, which is the highest it has been since September of 1992. The number of workers filing for unemployment compensation rose 13,000 to 499,000. While Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation claim figures are not as dire as New Jersey's, 8.3%, or the national rate of 8.5%, they are still bleak enough to qualify the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for Extended Unemployment Benefit coverage which allows residents to qualify for an additional 13 to 46 weeks of unemployment compensation.

It is important that families are ensuring that they are receiving the maximum benefits to cover their needs. If you feel that you have been denied unemployment or workers compensation unfairly, then you should contact our experienced team of lawyers. There are also additional tools available to residents of the Commonwealth who are looking for assistance, or a new beginning. Recently, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has launched a website to assist the unemployed in their job search. Also, Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is pushing for a new law that aims to pay community colleges nationwide $1,000 per student to retrain laid-off workers. Casey's bill would set up the Unemployment Tuition Assistance Program as part of the Department of Labor (DOL). People filing for unemployment benefits would be notified that tuition assistance may be available to them, and colleges that volunteer to participate would register with DOL for reimbursement, which Casey says would come from existing funds already allocated to job retraining in the department's budget.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Updates on Unemployment in Pennsylvania

With the past month's unemployment figures for Pennsylvania not yet released, it is of note that New Jersey's has risen to 8.3%. While Pennsylvania is still below the national average, the rates have continued to climb in recent months. Of historical note, long time area employers Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen L.L.P, and Northeastern hospital in Port Richmond closed recently.

Every part of the Philadelphia metropolitan area is affected, with equally tough times in Philadelphia and in New Jersey's rural Salem County on the edge of the metro market. One in five of the region's jobs are in Camden, Gloucester and Burlington Counties, but in one year, those same counties have lost a disproportionate share of the work -- nearly 31 percent. Mark Zandi at Moody's Economy.com expects the national unemployment rate to be as high as 9.8 percent by this time next year, with this region's rate not far behind. The dire economic environment has bankrupted unemployment programs locally, forcing them to borrow federal funds.

In the world of Unemployment Benefits in the state of Pennsylvania, there is some good news for those struggling to find employment. The state has extended unemployment benefits. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as Stimulus 2009, there will be a few changed to extended unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania. One of the qualifiers for this program is that the state's unemployment race must be over 7%, which it has. This program offers up to an additional 13 weeks of extended unemployment compensation benefits to those who are qualified and have exhausted all rights and balances on regular or Emergency Unemployment Compensation. The benefits are only payable as long as the state remains in a high unemployment rate. When the unemployment rate decreases as more individuals find work, the Extended Benefit Period will end.

You can watch the growth of unemployment by county in Pennsylvania since the start of the recession on the by clicking on this link

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Unemployment Tools and Considerations for people of Pennsylvania

According to this recent article in the Reading Eagle, unemployment in Berk's County rose to 8.4 percent in the month of February, which is up a full percentage point from the January figures and is the highest recorded unemployment mark for that county since August 1983. The figures, release by the state Department of Labor and Industry, show that the state of Pennsylvania's jobless rate has increased 3.1 percentage points to 7.5 percent overall since February of 2008. With that increase, Berks county now has the third highest unemployment rate of the state's 14 major markets. The total number of Berks residents without jobs as of February was 17,300 which is an increase of 2,000 from the previous month and is 8,000 higher than a year ago at this time. The only areas with higher unemployment totals are the two tied at the top, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport.

Since this is a rising cause for concern to so many locally, we'd like to cover a few recent topics regarding these issues and perhaps provide a few tools that you may find helpful to you.

A controversial topic has risen lately with how the unemployed are forced to use their unemployment compensation. People receiving unemployment compensation benefits are forced to use an 'unemployment benefit card', which is similar to a debit card. On the surface that seems harmless and effortless enough, except that recipients are now being charged bank fees to use those cards. This effectively reduces the amount of money that the people are able to receive in unemployment compensation, or child support for that matter.

With some employers facing tough decisions regarding layoffs in the coming weeks, there are some additional considerations that they are to consider regarding the cost of laying off employees. The funding for Unemployment Compensation comes from a tax that employers pay into the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund. As mentioned in this article, "in the Mid-Atlantic region, federal and state unemployment compensation costs employers an average 25 cents per hour per employee, or 0.12 percent of total payroll." The laying off of employees can prove to be more expensive than one might believe because the government assesses businesses based on the number and frequency of job reductions. Despite business struggles, the bottom line is that it may well be cheaper in the long run to retain employees so as to avoid an increase in cost for Unemployment Compensation insurance.

We've also come across a few articles that may serve as beneficial tools for you. If you click the link here, you will be taken to a brief breakdown on how to file for unemployment compensation. At this link here, there is a nice article on a family surviving on a severance package.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Issues in Collecting Child Support

The economy has obviously put a strain on all facets of life. One issue that may be of growing concern is the ability to collect child support for many parents. Wage garnishment in order to provide regular child support is is nothing new to most employers. The orderly process of keeping children and their parents funded is a vital component to the welfare of the state and the children themselves.

Income sources for child support are not limited to payroll deductions, they can also be drawn from insurance claims if there is a past-due amount of child support owed.

You can read more in our article entitled "Collection of Child Support From Employers and Insurers, located at the 422business.com website. You can also read some more thoughts about the collection of spousal and child support in Pennsylvania at our site.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Twitter and social networking can pose problems for legal system.

Technology moves quickly. The legal system does not always move so swiftly, but it is being forced to address a fluid situation in which technology may well be compromising the integrity of the judicial system.

In recent weeks, there have been several examples of this coming to light. In Arkansas, a juror was posting 'tweets'(the messages sent using the Twitter program) during breaks to give updates on the trial. The defendant, Russell Wright and Stoam Industries, had lost a $12.6 million lawsuit. His legal representation has filed an appeal of the findings claiming that juror Jonathen Powell was not fair and impartial. Wright's attorneys are basing this claim on the content of Powell's tweets. One of these messages read ""just gave away $12 million of someone else's money" and later went on to add that no one should buy Stoam "now that their wallet is 12M lighter." The defense is claiming that the juror also used the internet do research about the case. Powell has not denied using the internet to research, but now claims that he was 'looking up stuff about being a juror.'

In more local news to those of us in the Pottstown, PA area, is the federal corruption trial of former Pennsylvania state senator, Vincent J. Fumo. Before the jury reached a verdict, Fumo's defense attorneys have demanded the judge declare a mistrial in the case because a juror had been posting messages using both Twitter and Facebook regarding the trial. The judge ruled that the juror could stay and Fumo was convicted on all 137 counts. However, his attorneys have already expressed the desire to appeal the decision based upon their belief that the juror had reached a decision before the conclusion of the trial.

Just last week, a juror in a Florida federal drug trial admitted to the judge that he and other jurors had been researching the case on the internet. It turns out that a total of nine jurors had researched the case on Google. Federal judge, William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial. “We were stunned,” said a defense lawyer, Peter Raben, who was told by the jury that he had been on the verge of winning the case. “It’s the first time modern technology struck us in that fashion, and it hit us right over the head.”

It would appear that, at a minimum, jury instruction will now have to be changed to include the use of Twitter, Facebook and internet based search engines such as Google.

The technology is certainly no stranger to the Judicial System. Twitter can be a tremendous resource for networking and information exchange. In fact, the Philadelphia court system has its own twitter. Now we must move past simply using the technology to reap its benefits and come to terms with the full ramifications of its uses. The three cases above have resulted in one mistrial while the other two will likely end up with lengthy, and costly, appeals being filed. The end result is an added burden on the judicial system and a drain on tax-payer dollars.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rising Unemployment numbers in PA

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Pennsylvania's unemployment rates are on the rise.

The numbers reflected by this published report are both sobering, and alarming.

-Unemployment rose to 7 percent in January.

-PA lost 3,500 jobs in January.

-The number of people looking for work in the civilian sector has risen to 6,446,000. That is an increase of 5,000 from the previous month.

The Pennsylvania Unemployment Act offers some help in these difficult times by providing weekly benefits that are based upon length of employment and total amount paid into the unemployment system.

The law firm of Wolf, Baldwin and Associates, P.C. can help you receive benefits that are due to you. The variety of issues that determine whether or not you are eligible for unemployment benefits are complex and unique to your own situation. We cover a variety of these concerns in our article regarding "Unemployment Compensation." Feel free to contact us at our Pottstown, PA or West Chester, PA offices.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Unemployment and Workers Compensation resources

In this week’s blog, I thought I would bring to you a list of articles and resources that you may find useful during these difficult times.

Do you have questions or concerns about your eligibility for Unemployment Compensation in the state of Pennsylvania? Then you may want to check out our article regarding “Selected issues in Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law."

Have you ever wondered what is in your Personnel Files? You do have rights to review certain employment records. You can protect yourself and your identity as an employee. If you would like more information on this subject, feel free to review our article “Employee Rights under the Personnel Files Act of PA.”

If you feel that you may need to start a workers compensation claim in Pennsylvania, you may want to check out our article on that very subject here. This should give you a good guideline and starting point to pursue your claim.

Finally, for my fellow lawyers and law professionals who may be reading this blog, I found an interesting article this week written by Gina F. Rubel at the National Law Journal entitled “To Friend or Not to Friend: Social Media for Lawyer.” I found it to be both useful and interesting; I’d highly recommend that you read it.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

PA Workers to receive boost in Unemployment Compensation

Pennsylvania workers will be receiving a $25 boost in their Unemployment Compensation soon. According to today's article in The Mercury, the State Department of Labor and Industry have announced that the additional funds, while they are effective now, will not be reflected on this week's unemployment check. The workers of Pennsylvania should expect the additional $25 to be reflected on checks in the weeks to come.

If you find yourself recently unemployed, and you have questions about the amount of unemployment benefits that you may qualify for, then contact us to speak with an attorney who takes great pride in representing you and your family.

Also, if you or a loved one has been injured performing job related activities feel free to contact us to learn more about how you can begin a workers compensation claim.

At Wolf, Baldwin and Associates, P.C., we understand that in uncertain times such as this that there are more questions than answers. We pride ourselves in our direct communication and relationships with our clients.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unemployment Compensation and Coverage in Pottstown, PA

According to this recent article in The Mercury of Pottstown, PA there are rising unemployment numbers in the Chester County area. In fact, with a reported 8,500 Chester County residents without a job, those figures show a nearly fifty-percent increase compared to the Unemployment rates last year.

In uncertain times like these, it is important that employees ensure their legal Unemployment Compensation rights are being protected. There can be a variety of considerations and factors that may effect your unemployment compensation rights. If you find yourself concerned for your future employment, if you have been recently terminated, or if you have been laid off, then it is imperative that you make sure you and your family are protected. You can take the first step in protecting your rights by contacting the law firm of Wolf, Baldwin and Associates, P.C. We are the law firm that will fight for your unemployment compensation rights in Pennsylvania.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Do I qualify for worker's compensation in PA?

Do I qualify for worker’s compensation?

This is a question asked that, when asked, is far too often, and met with uncertainty or unclear information. The answers do not come as easy or readily as you would like. At Wolf, Baldwin and Associates, we pride ourselves on making sure our clients feel at ease during these troubled times.

First, you should ask yourself if any of these questions could be answered ‘yes.’

Have you have not received benefits after being injured on the job, or even if you contracted as disease while performing your job duties? Has a family member, or close friend died from an injury or disease that took place while on the job, or as a result of performing their job? Are you receiving benefits from a job related injury or illnesses that you believe are less than you are entitled to? Are you currently collecting benefits and would like to discuss a settlement?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you need to contact the Workers Compensation Attorneys in Pottstown, PA, Wolf Baldwin and Associates.

We handle all of your worker’s compensation needs. If you find yourself needing to file a claim petition, termination petition, suspension petition, modification petition, penalty petition, reinstatement petition or fatal claim petition then you need to contact Wolf, Baldwin and Associates, the leader in Workers Compensation that works for you during your toughest hours.

We handle Workers Compensation cases in Pennsylvania. We have offices conveniently located in West Chester and Pottstown, PA. You can rest assured that you can contact us and we will fight for you and your rights.

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