Thursday, September 18, 2014

PA is trying to tax legal services! We need to stop this!

There is a bill currently in the Senate that would impose a tax on legal services.  If passed, this could impact your access to legal help when you really need it and cost you more!
Let’s face it, people generally only need legal help when they have a big problems that seriously impact their financial situation and ability to provide food, shelter and education for their families.  Taxing legal services in these instances will place a further financial strain on those who can least afford it.  It will also serve to stifle access to legal services. 
  • For many, hiring a lawyer is a necessity and not a luxury item, as effective legal representation requires counsel.
  • Access to justice is a basic constitutional right and justice should not be treated as a commodity.
  • Legal representation is needed most by those with lower and moderate incomes, including seniors on fixed incomes. For instance, representation is often necessary to: obtain workers' compensation or Social Security benefits wrongly denied, fight a property assessment by local government, deal with a hostile landlord or tenant, have a simple will written or probate a will, avoid a home foreclosure
I am writing to you asking you to oppose Senate Bill 76 which would impose a sales tax on legal services.
Everyone should call and write to their state senator and representatives!  Tell them to oppose this bill!
Bellow is a sample of the letter you could send.  Please take action!

Dear Senator [Last Name]:

I am writing as an attorney from [town and county] and a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) to ask that you vote against Senate Bill 76. This bill would impose a sales tax on most legal services and create a major financial barrier for individuals with lower and moderate incomes who need legal representation the most.

For many Pennsylvanians, hiring a lawyer is a necessity and not a luxury item. Access to justice is a basic constitutional right that should not be taxed and treated as a commodity. Increasing the cost of effective legal representation by imposing a sales tax would impact persons of limited means who often need a lawyer to:

·         obtain workers’ compensation or social security benefits that have been wrongly denied

·         fight a property assessment action by their local government

·         deal with a hostile landlord or tenant

·         have a simple will written or probate  the will of a loved one

·         avoid a home foreclosure

I understand the difficult fiscal problems that the Commonwealth is now facing, but a tax on legal services is not the proper fix. This financial burden should not be shifted to individuals who are truly in need of legal representation. Please join me and the PBA in opposing this legislation.




[Your name]

Friday, December 6, 2013

New Threat to Workers' Rights - Senate Bill 1195

Senate Bill 1195 is a new bill which will further erode the rights of injured Workers' in Pennsylvania.  The legislators behind it are attempting to fast-track it.  I urge all of you to contact your state representative and senator and demand that they vote against passage of this legislation.  This bill will effectively eliminate any Uninsured Employer Guarantee Fund (UEGF) claims in the Commonwealth of PA.  The UEGF was designed to provide benefits to those injured while working for Employers who failed to obtain legally required Workers' Compensation Insurance.  You never know if this is going to be you  until it is too late.  Your representative may suggest that these changes are minor or will not effect many people.  Don't be fooled!  You may be one of those people in the future and if you are seriously injured and cannot work and have no income because your Employer failed to properly insure, you will wish this fund was available.  Further, if this is allowed to pass it will only be the beginning of increased erosion to the rights of injured workers.  PLEASE, call and/or email your state representative and senator and tell them to vote against Senate Bill 1195 today!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

WCAIS Update

It has been several months since the new computerized system went "on-line".  The results have been mixed.  There were initially severe delays in having petitions assigned, in the issuance of Decisions and in the issuance of hearing notices.  Slowly, the backlog is being processed.  New petitions are now getting assigned much more quickly and hearings are getting scheduled more quickly.  There are still substantial issues to work out, but the new system shows promise.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Proposed Changes to the PA WC Act

All workers throughout Pennsylvania should be aware that the there are discussions in the state legislature about amending the Workers' Compensation Act in ways that will harm injured workers.  If passed, it will greatly restrict your choice of medical providers in the event you sustain a work injury.  It is even possible that your employer will get to dictate who you treat with throughout your entire claim.  What can you do?  Contact your state representatives and tell them that injured workers should have the freedom to chose their own doctors! 

Stay tuned for updates.

Big Changes on September 9 - PA Bureau of Workers Compensation Goes Paperless

As of September 9, 2013, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation is initiating the full use of its new WCAIS system.  This online system is designed to reduce the use of paper in the Workers' Compensation system.  All petitions, answers and most forms will be available on-line through this system.  Hearing notices, evidence and communications will also be handled through this system.  It is brand new and no one is quite sure how it will work.  There may be delays while the kinks are getting worked out; however, in the end, this system promises to ease access to information in the system and to facilitate the exchange of information and correspondence between the parties and the Judge.  You must be a registered user to access the system.

Social Media in Workers' Compensation

Social Media is a great tool and can be lots of fun.  However, it is important to be aware that everything you post to the internet stays there (often even if deleted) and may be obtained by an employer/Insurance Company in the event you sustain a work injury.  More and more often, defense attorneys are checking social media sites and requesting access to accounts and data posted on-line.  Be thoughtful about what you post on Facebook or other Social Media.