Lawyers to be certified in workers' comp law

March 5, 2012 12:00 am

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The expertise of lawyers practicing in the area of workers' compensation has been a concern for many years, according to John Bagnato, the chair of the certification committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association workers' compensation law section.

"I was approached by one of the senior labor leaders in this state, asking if there was some way to restrict the practice of workers' compensation law," Mr. Bagnato said.

Now, with the state Supreme Court's approval, the workers' compensation law section will now be providing a form of quality control as a certifying organization.

The certification is meaningful for three groups, Mr. Bagnato said: injured claimants who want meaningful representation; the workers' compensation defense community, including third-party claimants and insurance companies; and the bench of workers' compensation administrative law judges.

Workers' compensation law requires specialized knowledge, including time limits on cases, as well as knowledge of medicine because there are almost always physician witnesses on both sides addressing the causal relationship between a claimant's injury and his or her workplace activity, Mr. Bagnato said.

Certified lawyers will be able to assert to the public that they are "certified as a specialist in the practice of workers' compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association's section on workers' compensation law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court."

According to the Pennsylvania Bar Association, no other entity certifies workers' compensation lawyers in the state and the association has never before had the authority to issue certification in a particular subject area of law.

The ability for the bar association to take on the role of certifying attorneys in the area of workers' compensation came because of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1990 decision in Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois, Mr. Bagnato said.

First Published 2012-03-04 23:07:44

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