Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quatrini Rafferty Attorney Michael V. Quatrini Leads the Way With Legal Technology

Quatrini Rafferty attorney Michael V. Quatrini recently co-authored an article on legal technology in "The Sidebar", a publication produced by the Westmoreland Bar Association.

In addition to producing the article Michael will be presenting monthly technology seminars on legal technology to other attorneys in the bar association.

A full copy of the article can be found here. A description of the technology seminar can be found here.

- Quatrini Rafferty -

Monday, January 25, 2010

QR In the Community: Greater Latrobe Welcomes Grants

The following is an excerpt from the January 21, 2010 Pittsburgh Tribune Review article, "Greater Latrobe Welcomes Grants," authored by A.J. Panian, which detailed recent donations made to Greater Latrobe School District:

"Greater Latrobe School Board on Tuesday accepted a bevy of grants and donations...The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County gave the district $2,565 via the Quatrini Rafferty Attorneys-at-Law's participation in the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program."

The Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) enables companies to support local non-profit charities instead of sending their tax dollars to Harrisburg. Since the inception of the program, 3,600 Pennsylvania business have pledged in excess of $350 million dollars to local charities and school districts.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Decision on Refusal of Resonable Medical Care

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court's recent opinion in Bereznicki v. WCAB (Eat N' Park Hospitality Group), No. 1047 C.D. 2009 (October 19, 2009) debated the issue of an employee's refusal of medical care.

Section 306(f.1)(8) of the Act states that, if an employee refuses reasonable treatment, the employee shall forfeit all rights to compensation for any increase in incapacity resulting from such refusal. Treatment is reasonable if it is highly probable that the treatment will cure the health problem and enhance the claimant’s prospects for gainful and fulfilling employment. Kneas v. Workmen’s Compensation Appeal Board (Cross Country Clothes), 685 A.2d 248 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1996), appeal denied, 548 Pa. 650, 695 A.2d 788 (1997).

The Workers' Compensation Judge found that employee should not refuse a recommended medicine detox program

The Workers' Compensation Appeal Board affirmed the decision of the workers' compensation judge.

In concluding that the Employee should have attempted the detox program, the Court remarked that:

"In this case, a detox program would wean Claimant from toxic doses of medication, curing that health problem, allowing Claimant to return to normal functioning and enhancing her prospects for gainful and fulfilling employment. Although such a program would not return Claimant to her pre-injury job, her refusal of such treatment certainly increases her incapacity."

Read the entire opinion here.

To have one of the Quatrini Rafferty attorneys evaluate your Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation case, please contact our Greensburg or Latrobe offices at 1-888-288-9748 or at our website

- Quatrini Rafferty -

reasonable or unreasonable medical treatment workers compensation attorney pennsylvania greensburg latrobe pittsburgh westmoreland county allegheny county workers comp lawyer

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pennsylvania Announces Average Weekly Wage for 2010

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry announced that the maximum Average Weekly Wage for Workers' Compensation claims occurring on or after January 1, 2010 will be $845.00.

For purposes of calculating the update to payments for medical treatment rendered on and after Jan. 1, 2010, the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage is 1.1 percent.

Please see the chart and the helpful explanation below:

Under the Workers' Compensation Act, injured workers are entitled to indemnity (wage-loss) benefits equal to two-thirds of their weekly wage for a work-related injury. However, there are minimum and maximum adjustments provided in the Act, and the benefit rate is set using the annual maximum in place at the time of injury. The maximum is based on the Department of Labor and Industry's calculation of the statewide average weekly wage.
The following schedules provide the weekly rates from calendar year 2005 to 2010.

When referring to the schedules, read down the column for the
calendar year during which the injury occurred.
For example, the maximum weekly compensation rate for calendar year 2010 is $845.00. The second block represents the weekly compensation rate to be 66 2/3 percent of the employee's average weekly wage if the average weekly wage falls between $1,267.50 and $633.76.
The third block reflects a weekly compensation rate of $422.50 if the employee's average weekly wage is between $633.75 and $469.44.
The last block is 90 percent of the employee's average weekly wage if his/her average weekly wage is $469.43 or less.

To have one of the Quatrini Rafferty attorneys evaluate your Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation case, please contact our Greensburg or Latrobe offices at 1-888-288-9748 or at our website

Monday, January 18, 2010

Supplemental Security Income Guidelines Stay the Same In 2010

Click chart for enlarged view

To learn more about eligibility for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, contact our Greensburg or Latrobe offices at 1-888-288-9748 or head to our website

- Quatrini Rafferty -

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

QR Legislative Alert: Social Security Holds Hearings on Compassionate Allowances for Schizophrenia

The Social Security Administration recently announced that it will hold additional hearings on the issue of "Compassionate Allowances for young individuals with schizophrenia. The following was posted on their website:

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today hosted the agency’s fifth public hearing on Compassionate Allowances. Commissioner Astrue was joined by Philip Wang, M.D., Dr. P.H., National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, and Social Security executives. They heard testimony from some of the nation's leading experts on schizophrenia about possible methods of identifying and implementing Compassionate Allowances for young adults with schizophrenia.

"Schizophrenia is a devastating disease that affects more than two million Americans, primarily individuals in their teens and twenties," said Commissioner Astrue. "The onset of schizophrenia has life-changing consequences, which can include unemployment and homelessness." This hearing will help us to potentially identify the most severe cases and consider bringing them under our Compassionate Allowances umbrella."

In October 2008, Social Security launched Compassionate Allowances to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants with medical conditions so severe that their conditions by definition meet Social Security's standards. To learn more and to view a web cast of today's hearing, go to

"Our Compassionate Allowances and Quick Disability Determination processes are making a real difference by ensuring that Americans with devastating disabilities quickly receive the benefits they need," Commissioner Astrue said. "This fiscal year, we expect to fast-track about 150,000 cases and we plan to add more diseases and impairments to these expedited processes in the coming months."

The Social Security Administration already has schizophrenia regulations, or Listings, for both children and adults (Listings 112.00 and 12.03). It currently defines schizophrenia for children as the "onset of psychotic features, characterized by a marked disturbance of thinking, feeling, and behavior, with deterioration from a previous level of functioning or failure to achieve the expected level of social functioning."

To learn more about eligibility for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, contact our office at 1-888-288-9748 or head to our website

- Quatrini Rafferty -

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Personal Injury Cases: Picking Up the Pieces

The following article was authored by Quatrini Rafferty attorney Joyce Novotny-Prettiman and originally published in our newsletter, the Legal Update.

As attorneys for injured people, we talk to clients every day about the potential value of their personal injury claims. On the opposite side of the case, the insurance company is making its own determination of the value of the claim in defense of the person(s) at fault. If the two sides cannot come to an agreement, the ultimate decision of the value of the claim is made by a jury. The civil law provides only one way to compensate people who are injured because of another person's carelessness: money damages. Many factors are taken into consideration when clients, attorneys and juries review these cases. There are two types of damages in personal injury cases: economic and non-economic losses.

Economic damages are things that can be assigned a "price tag," such as lost wages, medical bills or out-of-pocket expenses. When someone is injured, they may not be able to return to work while receiving medical treatment. Some people suffer injuries that are serious enough to cause the complete loss of a job or require a career change. This type of economic damage is known as a loss of earning capacity. In the most devastating cases, when an accident causes fatal injuries, a family may suffer many economic damages, including loss of support and the loss of the services that the victim provided to a spouse and children left behind.

There may also be medical bills that go beyond those covered by insurance. Auto insurance is the primary source of coverage for medical expenses. Pennsylvania law requires a minimum of $5,000 medical coverage. The next source is private health insurance. However, private health insurance carriers may require repayment of medical bills associated with the accident. In any event, most people must pay deductibles and co-payments as required by their private health insurance, and these out-of-pocket expenses can be included in the calculation of economic damages. Some people will have future medical bills that can be estimated by a doctor and these bills are part of an economic damage claim.

The more complicated part of evaluating a claim involves the analysis of non-economic damages: the fright of being involved in an auto collision; the pain that is associated with an injury; the worry and concern about medical bills and the inability to support a family and pay bills on time. These are the types of things that weigh heavily on the minds of our clients after an injury.

The most significant piece of the damage puzzle is the extent of the injuries sustained. Medical treatment provided immediately after an accident is important, but so is all follow-up care. It is very important to listen to the instructions of medical professionals during this process. Treatments may last over an extended period of time and require a patient to be dedicated to completing the recommended treatment plan. It is equally important to let doctors know the problems that continue during the healing process so that additional testing or treatment may be ordered. The "value" of this portion of the claim is based upon the injuries suffered, the length of treatment required, and any resulting permanent limitations or disabilities. It is critical to have proper medical documentation so that the details associated with medical treatment are clear.

We always advise our clients to pay close attention to their doctor's orders and emphasize that most people will have a better chance at a full recovery by doing so. Just as each accident is different, the value of a claim differs greatly because each person will go through different treatment and will have different concerns following an injury. As you can see from this short discussion, the issue of damages can be very complicated and you need an attorney to assist you with evaluating and pursuing this type of claim

To have Joyce Novotny-Prettiman and the Personal Injury Department of Quatrini Rafferty evaluate your personal injury case, contact us at 1-888-288-9748 or at our website

- Quatrini Rafferty -

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Collborative Law: The "No Court Approach"

The following article was authored by Quatrini Rafferty attorney David S. DeRose and originally appeared in our newsletter, the Legal Update. In our office David S. DeRose and James A. Horchak, Esq. were recently certified as Collaborative Law professionals by the International Association of Collaborative Professionals and are members of the Collaborative Lawyers' Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania (

Collaborative Law is an alternative to traditional litigation. A collaborative attorney works for a client through a process of direct negotiations to seek a timely and complete solution that both clients agree serves their best interests. The collaborative process can be applied to a number of areas of law, including divorce, custody, support, real estate disputes, monetary disputes, constitution claims and other similar cases.

If parties choose this process, they agree to participate in a collaborative effort to reach a consensus. This means that each party needs to retain an attorney who is willing to represent the client on a collaborative basis. An attorney who participates in the collaborative process is disqualified from pursuing a client's claim in court. The idea is to focus on resolution and not permit interference from the threat of a court proceeding. The parties participate in a series of meetings with their counsel. Full disclosure of all information that would be necessary to resolve the case is required. Parties may jointly retain other experts to aid in the process, such as land surveyors, real estate appraisers, financial experts and counselors.

For example, this concept can be easily applied to parties who are contemplating divorce but are willing to work toward a constructive settlement of the financial and custody issues. The parties pledge to work together to determine all of the assets and obligations of the marriage which both sides will use to support a dignified dissolution of the marriage. In order for a client and an attorney to work as a team and successfully interact with the other spouse and attorney, both parties may find input from a financial advisor or a real estate appraiser helpful in leading to a solution. This all becomes part of the collaborative process and hopefully results in a solution that saves both parties time, money, heartache and the aggravation that could flow from litigation. Should the collaborative process break down, then both collaborative attorneys must withdraw and instruct both clients to retain other counsel to litigate the matter in court.

If you believe that a matter in which you are involved can be resolved through collaboration, please contact us to discuss this alternative. We look forward to pursuing this method of dispute resolution and working with other collaborative practitioners to help clients arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.

- Quatrini Rafferty -

Friday, January 1, 2010

Michael V. Quatrini to Serve on Steering Committee for U.S. Congressman John P. Murtha

Quatrini Rafferty attorney Michael V. Quatrini was recently asked by U.S. Congressman John P. Murtha to serve on the steering committee for his re-election.

In addition to commenting on general campaign strategy and fund raising, Michael will advise on issues such as Social Security Disability and Veterans' Disability issues.

To learn more about Pennsylvania's longest serving member of Congress, see the following website:

- Quatrini Rafferty -