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Q: When must an employee notify his/her employer that he/she sustained a work injury?

A: Immediate notification is always best but it is not required. Notice of a work related injury must be given to someone in a supervisory capacity within 120 days of the date of the injury in order to collect worker's compensation benefits. However, notice must be given within 21 days of the date of the injury is required in order to collect benefits beginning the first day the injury causes a wage loss.

Q: Who pays for and provides medical treatment for a work related injury?

A: If proper notice is given, the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier pays for all work related medical treatment that is reasonable and necessary for that injury. During the first 90 days of medical treatment, the employer can control who provides such treatment if it posts a "Panel Physician List" which meets the criteria set forth by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. However, such a list alone is not sufficient to force an employee to obtain treatment from a panel physician. Employers must also provide written notice to the injured employee of the employee's rights and duties relating to treatment for a work injury. This notice must be provided at the time of hire AND immediately after the injury.

Q: How long are Workers' Compensation Benefits payable?

A: Total disability benefits are payable for as long as the injured employee is unable to earn wages as a result of the work injury. If the injured employee is determined to be capable of working in a lighter duty capacity and evidence of an "earning capacity" is presented, then partial disability benefits are paid for a maximum of 500 weeks.

Q. What is the difference between a corporation and an LLC or limited liability company?

A. An LLC provides the same protection from liability as a corporation but without the more complex recordkeeping tax structure required of corporations.

Q. Do I need a Living Trust?

A. In some States, avoiding probate is an important estate planning goal because of the onerous process involved. In Pennsylvania, the probate process is not onerous and we have found that the expense involved in establishing a living trust is in many cases not worth it. A living trust does not save any estate or inheritance tax.

Q. I want to make a Will. What information do I need to start?

A. Make a list of your assets and how they are titled. Remember that only assets in your name pass under your Will. Next, you should decide on a depository plan or who you want to receive your assets on your death. You must also decide on the name of an executor and contact one of our probate attorneys to help you draw up the necessary document.

Q. Do I need a Will if all of my accounts are in joint names?

A. Even if all of your accounts are in joint names, it is still prudent to have a Will. If both you and the joint owner of your account died in a common accident, or died close in time to one another, a Will would be necessary. In addition, if you inherit funds or come into money in some other way, e.g. lottery winnings, and die before depositing such funds into a joint account, these funds will be distributed to your intestate heirs if you have no Will. Your intestate heirs may not be the persons you would prefer to receive your estate.

Q. What are my restrictions for accepting a new employment position if my employer required me to sign a covenant not to compete?

A. Carefully read the language of your employment agreement to determine any geographic, temporal and/or business restrictions placed upon you as a departing employee. A covenant not to compete may be subject to legal challenge and held to be not binding on you in a new employment position if it is not narrowly tailored and reasonable in scope.

Q. Are non-compete provisions of my employment agreement legally enforceable?

A. Yes. However, the non-compete provisions of your employment agreement may be avoidable if the terms and restrictions placed upon you are not reasonable in scope and narrowly tailored to protect both your ability to earn a living in your area of expertise as well as the interests of your employer in protecting his or her business from competition.

Q. Can I sue my employer for sexual harassment?

A. Yes. There are certain administrative procedures, such as filing a charge with the Equal Opportunity Commission and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and obtaining a Right to Sue Letter, with which you must comply before filing a lawsuit in court alleging sexual harassment.

Q. When I obtain my automobile insurance, should I select the "Full Tort" or "Limited Tort" option?

A. Under our law, your right to recover compensation for injuries received in an automobile accident is dependent on the selection you make. The simple answer is that you should spend the extra money and obtain the "Full Tort" coverage.

Individuals who chose the "Limited Tort" option can only recover if the injuries they receive in an accident result in death, serious impairment of a bodily function, or permanent serious disfigurement. The only way to assure fair, adequate and just compensation for all injuries received in an accident caused by others is to select "Full Tort" coverage.

Q. What does uninsured and underinsured motorist protection mean and should I order that coverage?

A. You should always include uninsured and underinsured motorist protection in your automobile insurance coverage.

Uninsured motorist protection allows you to receive full, adequate and just compensation from your insurance carrier for injuries you receive in an auto accident caused by an uninsured driver. Under Pennsylvania law, all drivers are required to carry a minimum of $15,000.00 in auto liability insurance coverage. However, the minimum coverage is often not adequate to cover the injuries sustained in today's serious accidents.

Underinsured motorist protection allows innocent and injured motorists to collect compensation from their own insurance carrier for injuries sustained from a negligent driver who carried an amount of auto insurance that is insufficient to provide full compensation.

Q. How can I get permanent residency (a green card) through employment?

A. An immigrant is a foreign national who has been authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. If you want to become an immigrant based on the fact that you have a permanent employment opportunity in the United States, or if you are an employer that wants to sponsor someone for lawful permanent residency based on permanent employment in the United States, you must go through a multi-step process.
  • First, foreign nationals and employers must determine if the foreign national is eligible for lawful permanent residency under one of BCIS' routes to lawful permanent residency.

  • Second, most employment categories require that the U.S. employer complete a labor certification request for the applicant, and submit it to the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Labor must either grant or deny the certification request.

  • Third, BCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition for the person wanting to immigrate to the United States. The employer wishing to bring the applicant to the United States to work permanently files this petition. However, if a Department of Labor certification is needed the application can only be filed after the certification is granted. The employer acts as the sponsor (or petitioner) for the applicant (or beneficiary) who wants to live and work on a permanent basis in the United States.

  • Fourth, the State Department must give the applicant an immigrant visa number, even if the applicant is already in the United States. When the applicant receives an immigrant visa number, it means that an immigrant visa has been assigned to the applicant.

  • Fifth, if the applicant is already in the United States, he or she must apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa number becomes available. If the applicant is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she will be notified and must complete the process at his or her local United States Consulate office.

Q. How can I get permanent residency (a green card) through a family member?

A. A lawful permanent resident is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. If you want to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that you have a relative who is a citizen of the United States or a relative who is a lawful permanent resident, you must go through a multi-step process.
  • First, the BCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition for you. A Petition is filed by your relative (sponsor) and must be accompanied by proof of your relationship to the requesting relative.

  • Second, the Department of State must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you, the foreign national, even if you are already in the United States. When an immigrant visa number becomes immediately available to you, it means that you can apply to have one of the immigrant visa numbers assigned to you.

  • Third, if you are already in the United States, you may apply to change your status to that of a lawful permanent resident after a visa number becomes available for you. This is one way you can apply to secure an immigrant visa number. If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available for you, you must then go to the U.S. consulate servicing the area in which you reside to complete your processing. This is the other way in which you can apply to secure an immigrant visa number.

Q. Who is required to file an income tax return?

A. Federal and State income tax returns or information returns are required to be filed by individuals, estates, trusts, corporations, partnerships, other business entities (LLC's and LLP's), and certain non-profit organizations. In some cases, there are income thresholds that apply that will avoid the need for some taxpayers to file a tax return.

Q. Are there special regulations governing transportation of persons in Pennsylvania?

A. Yes, all common carriers must register with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission as a paratransit, group and party, airport transport, limousine or call or demand service. Common carriers must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience or Medallion from the Commission before operating in Pennsylvania. Failure to obtain the appropriate license may result in significant fines.

Q. How does zoning apply to my property?

A. Zoning Ordinances are city or township specific and govern all use and development of residential, farm, commercial, institutional and industrial land. Careful review of the ordinance with one of our real estate attorneys may save time and money in a zoning application or in opposition to a development.

Q. Is there a way to protect my business logo or my literary, musical, artistic or other work?

A. Yes. The law provides certain protection for original ideas and works. One may register a logo as a trade or service mark. Copyright protection is available for original works. Protection is available by common law and registration with the federal government.

Q. Are there laws to help me educate my disabled child?

A. There are many. A few include the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against disabled children, and insures that they receive a free appropriate public education. Also, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires schools to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled students.

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