Workers' Compensation

Goldberg Segalla’s Workers’ Compensation Practice Group was founded on the premise that the prevailing model of defending employers in workers’ compensation claims was inefficient and inadequate. We developed our own unique practice model, one that involves handling each claim from beginning to end, staying abreast of even the most minor changes in interpretive language used by the courts, and developing strategies tailor-made for each unique situation. 

We put this approach to work — with a proven track record of results — for clients in a wide range of industries throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Missouri, Illinois, Maryland, and North Carolina. 

Capabilities 

Our team, which is more than 60 lawyers strong, represents both self-insured employers and employers with large retentions and deductibles, as well as insurance carriers, third-party administrators, municipalities, and boards of education. We have an extensive record of successfully defending private and public clients in a broad range of industries, including (to name just a few): trucking, manufacturing, retail, hospitality (including both restaurants and hotels), food production, long-term care, home health care, public services, and education. We also frequently counsel employers on ways to proactively reduce risk of worker injuries.

We have successfully handled cases involving both major and minor injuries, in both the accident and occupational disease contexts. Our extensive experience includes (but is by no means limited to) those involving slips and falls, motor vehicle accidents, carpal tunnel syndrome, hearing loss, psychological stress, cardiac events, death, and dependency benefits. We have achieved determinations for our clients as well as favorable global settlements involving the claimants in workers’ compensation cases and related third-party actions. We have also successfully investigated and litigated workers’ compensation fraud claims. 

One of the distinctive ways we provide clients with a strong competitive advantage is through advocacy during the Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) process. Our team includes a Medicare Set-Aside Consultant, certified from the International Commission on Health Care Certification, which allows us to bring exceptional strategic insight to cases involving MSAs and the allocation for the future medical costs of an individual on (or soon to be on) Medicare following settlement. We don’t merely prepare and submit MSAs; we put our exceptional experience in this area to work toward identifying and negotiating the lowest defensible MSA amount with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which can significantly reduce the ultimate settlement amount of a claim. We can handle the MSA process on claims nationwide. 

We handle workers’ compensation litigation before all appropriate government agencies and courts and in all forums of alternative dispute resolution in the states where this team practices. Through our work handling regular and trial hearings, permanency determinations, and testimony of claimants, employer witnesses, and medical experts, we strive to resolve cases as completely and efficiently as possible, with a focus on bringing them to final closure for the defendant: 

  • New York: We routinely practice before the New York Workers’ Compensation Board and have extensive experience handling stipulation settlement conferences, mandatory mediations, and §32 settlement agreements.
  • New Jersey: We defend clients before the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation and in every workers’ compensation vicinage in New Jersey, and we regularly achieve §20 orders approving settlement.
  • Pennsylvania: We represent our clients’ interests before the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board and the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, and regularly bring closure through Act 57 compromise and release (C&R) settlement agreements.
  • Connecticut: We defend clients before commissioners in all eight districts of the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission at informal, pre-formal, and formal hearings and settle cases through full and final stipulation agreements. 
  • Maryland: We represent self-insured and insured employers in all stages of litigation, including at hearings before the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, in settlement conferences, and on appeal to the Circuit Courts of Maryland.
  • Missouri: We represent employers and their insurers throughout Missouri in all stages of workers’ compensation proceedings, from hearings before administrative law judges, to appeals to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, and on appeals to the appellate courts.
  • Illinois: Our workers’ compensation attorneys appear on behalf of employers and their insurers before arbitrators throughout the state, and they represent those employers and insurers on appeals to the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
  • North Carolina: We practice before the North Carolina Industrial Commission on a daily basis. We have extensive experience handling mediations, clincher settlements, and hearings before Deputy Commissioners and the full Commission.
  • Federal statutes: Our team also has extensive experience defending cases involving the federal worker-injury laws under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and the Jones Act, each of which raises unique challenges for employers and insurance carriers. The LHWCA applies to certain maritime workers for injuries allegedly incurred upon U.S. navigable waters and/or at adjoining workplaces like wharfs and dry docks, and the Jones Act allows certain maritime workers to bring claims for maintenance and cure but also to bring negligence claims for their alleged work injuries. 

We understand the priorities of self-insurers and the need to have matters resolved promptly and cost-effectively. That is one reason why we have formed excellent working relationships with an extensive network of experts who can assist in developing defenses to various claims. Our significant experience in working with risk managers allows us to find creative solutions to obstacles and help our clients meet their long-term objectives. 

And because Goldberg Segalla offers valuable counsel and litigation experience in a broad range of practice areas, we are able to assist our clients in the full array of legal challenges that often arise in connection with workers’ compensation claims, such as complex lien, credit, and subrogation issues stemming from third-party claims; retaliation and other employment law issues; and insurance coverage issues. We value our relationships and welcome the opportunity to assist our clients in additional areas when those needs arise. 

Opioid Impact Program

Goldberg Segalla offers a comprehensive Opioid Impact Program — OIP for short — that helps claims professionals to reduce claimants’ use of prescription medications and to identify and mitigate claims that have the potential to spiral out of control in terms of cost and exposure.

Our OIP employs an early identification strategy to educate claims professionals on the key indicators of potentially problematic cases involving opioids and prescription drugs. It also sets forth a specific protocol to limit new prescriptions for new and older cases, along with a detailed blueprint on how to isolate, identify, and reduce claims with high prescription medication costs. 

Our Best Practices Approach 

We believe our approach to handling claims creates unparalleled levels of preparedness and efficiency, which ultimately leads to better immediate results as well as greater long-term savings for the client. Fueled by our firm-wide Best Practices service philosophy — which puts the interest of the client first and emphasizes teamwork and the development of long-term relationships — our approach includes: 

  • Completing a comprehensive review of each file at the outset, in order to develop the best possible strategy
  • Ensuring continuity in the file-handling process by keeping each file with the same attorney throughout the entire litigation process
  • Thorough preparation for and participation in hearing appearances, with the goal of resolving all issues involved in the claim, not just a single issue
  • Regular and productive communication with clients to provide risk/exposure evaluations and keep everyone on the same page 

All this adds up to a better overall experience for employers, carriers, and third-party administrators — and a better way to help mitigate liability and bring the claim to a quicker resolution. 

In addition, we regularly prepare workers’ compensation legal updates and conduct training sessions for our clients. Our Workers’ Compensation Defense blog also covers everything from current trends and precedent-setting litigation, to claims management and upcoming rule changes.

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Diversity

Leadership and Action

To put our philosophy and commitment into practice, we have a Diversity Task Force, which includes our Managing Partner, in place to conceptualize and implement diversity-focused programs as well as give diversity a voice in our decision-making at the highest level. The individuals on this task force share the firm’s strong commitment to increasing the diversity, and they use their unique experiences and backgrounds to support and advance that goal. The team meets regularly to create programs, schedule events, establish diversity initiatives both inside and outside of the firm, set long-term goals, and develop the strategy to recruit and retain people from diverse backgrounds.

The Chair of our Diversity Task Force, Joseph M. Hanna, has spearheaded numerous diversity initiatives in various organizations and outreach programs, serves on several diversity-related committees, and is a frequent author and speaker on diversity. Among other positions, he is Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Minority Trial Lawyer Committee and its Special Committee on Human Rights, Editor-in-Chief of the ABA’sMinority Trial Lawyer, a 2014 Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a past President of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York (MBAWNY), current President of the MBAWNY Foundation, and the Diversity Liaison for several committees at the 22,000-member Defense Research Institute (DRI).

Each summer, Goldberg Segalla proudly welcomes interns through a formal Diversity Clerkship Program that was conceived by Joe while he served as President of the MBAWNY. The program was developed in collaboration with the MBAWNY and the SUNY Buffalo Law School to provide opportunities for minority UB Law students to gain firsthand experience in the legal system. Since it was launched in 2011, the program has placed more than 80 students in clerkships in area courts as well as in several area law firms, with more judges and law firms asking to participate every day. It provides participants with an in-depth look at the legal process and the interaction between the bench and the bar that they would not otherwise get. At our firm, a dedicated team of partners monitors the work of these law clerks and ensures they obtain valuable experience to help develop important legal research, writing, case management, and client service skills critical to their long-term success. Our program earned the firm the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2012 George B. Vashon Innovator Award.

We also have sponsored Success in the City, an annual diversity networking and mentoring event developed by Joe that brought together students, legal and business professionals, educators, nonprofits, and political leaders to make lasting partnerships. Many employment, business, and mentoring relationships resulted from this event. Past events have drawn more than 500 political and business leaders, legal professionals, and students. Success in the City has influenced the development of similar programs in Baltimore, Cleveland, Birmingham, Dallas, and elsewhere.

Goldberg Segalla also demonstrates leadership inside our firm and throughout the legal community specifically focused on the advancement of women. As a complement to our Diversity Task Force, we have developed a formal Women’s Initiative — a firm-wide movement designed to spark opportunities, develop mentoring relationships, promote leadership, plan events, and support the advancement of women in legal, management, and administrative contexts.

Our firm is committed to spreading the message throughout the broad legal and business communities that embracing diversity contributes to greater overall success. We conduct training sessions for in-house counsel at Fortune 500 corporations on increasing and promoting diversity.  Our attorneys have authored articles and delivered presentations on diversity for various legal organizations, including the Defense Research Institute and the American Bar Association, and our efforts and accomplishments in this area have been profiled in publications such as Law360, the New York State Bar Association’s State Bar NewsBusiness First of Buffalo, the Buffalo Law Journal, and others.

In one recent example of our work to provide inspiration and raise awareness of diversity and women’s issues in the legal community, Caroline Berdzik, a partner in our Princeton office and a member of our Women’s Initiative Leadership Committee, spoke to Law360 for the publication’s “Female Powerbrokers” series. In the interview, Caroline discussed her career, the challenges of being a woman at a senior level at a law firm, the work-family life balance, and the importance of taking risks. She also offered guidance to female attorneys on moving their careers forward and advice to law firms on both increasing the number of women partners and retaining top female talent. Her longtime advocacy for women (at her previous firm, she served on the Women’s Business Development Committee and was a member of what became the national Women’s Presidents Organization) helped earn her a spot on the 2015 NJBIZ list of New Jersey’s Best 50 Women in Business.

Joe Hanna also was featured by Law360 in its “Minority Powerbrokers” series, in which he shared his perspective on breaking the glass ceiling in the legal industry, the challenges of being a lawyer of color at a senior level, how law firms can increase diversity in their partner ranks, and Goldberg Segalla’s core commitment to diversity.

Partnerships

Goldberg Segalla is proud to be a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Firm Affiliate Network, which was created by the MCCA to assist and acknowledge law firms that are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

We are also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a national organization of leaders in law firms and corporate legal departments dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession. As noted earlier, Joe Hanna was a Fellow of the LCLD in 2014. In this position, he played a critical role in organizing the first-ever New York City LCLD Fellows Roundtable event, and he was instrumental in establishing a mentorship program in Hartford for local diverse first-year law students.

We support the diversity efforts of numerous organizations, including:

  • American Bar Association
  • Asian American Bar Association of New York
  • Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Korean American Association of Greater New York
  • League of First Nations
  • Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • National Bar Association
  • Native American Rights Fund
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals
  • National Congress of American Indians
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Seneca Free Trade Association
  • SUNY Buffalo Law School
  • Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

Our outreach efforts led to the creation of a comprehensive database of more than 500 minority law organizations throughout the United States. Contact between these organizations takes place in anticipation of bringing CLE and legal programs together. This group of minority bar associations includes both local and national organizations, such as:

  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • National Association of Muslim Lawyers
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar
  • Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
  • South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia
  • Vietnamese American Bar Association of North Carolina
A Talented and Diverse Team

Diversity is further evident within our firm through the many languages and dialects our team speaks, including Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Malayalam, Mandarin, Marathi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, and Urdu.

Goldberg Segalla’s culture is one that values team-spiritedness, collegiality, and interpersonal harmony within our working community. We are a firm that believes in diversity in the workplace, and we are proud to offer a professional and positive work environment for each and every member of our team.

On these values, and on our commitment to diversity, we will never waver. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but we also realize that this is a long-term mission. We will continue to innovate and to improve diversity in law and business — both within Goldberg Segalla and across the communities in which we live and work.

Diversity Matters — Join the Conversation

If you have questions regarding any of the firm’s diversity initiatives or would like to discuss ideas regarding increasing diversity in the legal profession, please contact Joe Hanna (716.566.5447;jhanna@goldbergsegalla.com) or another member of our Diversity Task Force: