Defend and Protect
The attorneys of Martin Banks fight for the just compensation of workers injured on the job
by Sharon A. Shaw

An injury of any sort can leave the victim with medical bills, lifelong complications and emotional distress, but a workplace injury can cause even more frustration. The workers’ compensation programs designed to protect and assist victims of these injuries are difficult for the lay-person to navigate, especially when suffering from added physical and mental concerns.

George Martin understood this challenge when he established his firm more than 30 years ago. Now with a staff of 14 attorneys, his firm, Martin Banks, assists clients throughout the state—extending as far as Harrisburg, York and Scranton—from offices around the region, including those in Center City, Media, Malvern and lower Bucks County. It is one of the few firms in Pennsylvania to focus in workers’ compensation and one of the largest that represents only injured workers. 

Workers’ compensation cases can cover a range of injuries, from musculoskeletal to complex chemical exposure and amputations to disfigurement, across a wide range of occupations. “Many dabble in this, but it pays to deal with an organization that has experience with workers’ compensation,” says attorney Matthew L. Wilson, who has been with the firm for 19 years. “A broad-spectrum attorney shouldn’t be dabbling in these cases.”

In fact, because of its highly specialized nature, workers’ compensation is the first area of legal practice in Pennsylvania to offer a certification. He points out that this field of law is unique: Unlike a civil case, workers’ compensation cases are resolved through administrative law hearings, instead of by a jury of one’s peers; representation is done through petition instead of verbal arguments; and the cases cannot settle without court approval. In addition to workers’ compensation cases, the firm also represents the needs of clients in regard to Social Security or other benefits.

“Most people going through an injury with a wage loss need reassurance that their case is being serviced and they are important. The only way you do that is with lots of qualified personnel,” says Wilson. Each litigating attorney at Martin Banks has a team of support staff to ensure that the needs of clients—and their families—are being met. These team members have extensive training in areas including medicine, wage-loss considerations and general support, and a 3:1 ratio of staff to each attorney assures that someone is always available to answer a client’s phone call and address their questions and concerns. 

According to Wilson, state-of-the-art technology, including a case-management system customized for Martin Banks’ needs, enables the firm to provide complete information from the computer screen. “You would be amazed how many firms don’t do digital case management,” he says.

Still, it is the personal relationships that make the greatest difference in these cases specifically, the relationships its attorneys build with each client and the relationships it has established throughout the industry. According to Wilson, Martin Banks maintains a network of hundreds of doctors, allowing it to match each client with the appropriate one for their needs and geography. Martin Banks also work with drug providers to assure that their clients can receive the care they need in spite of cost or red tape.

Recognized Leaders
Martin Banks is well respected in the field. Its attorneys literally helped write the book on the law of workers’ compensation. Wilson currently serves on the faculty of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Workers’ Compensation Practice and Procedure Guide, a 780-page treatise revised every two years that is used as a model for lawyers and judges. This position was previously held by George Martin, and both also routinely lecture on the topic.

Martin Banks has also produced a more easily understandable book: a guide that it provides to prospective clients during their consultation to help them understand workers’ compensation.

“Most of the folks that end up in my office have experienced some sort of a problem with care,” Wilson says. “Even if it is going well, get a free consultation. … Rule No. 1 is to seek consultation whether or not you have a recognized claim. If there is nothing there, we will tell you. People come with a case and even if it’s not workers’ compensation, we see a Social Security case or veterans’ benefits case. Anyone getting a benefit should get a consultation to know their rights.”

The judgments Martin Banks have won not only benefit its clients but in some cases have affected national policy. The most personally significant case Wilson tried went to the Supreme Court regarding the rights of a quadriplegic. Under the law, workers’ compensation was required to fund modification of an existing vehicle for the client’s use but not to provide a vehicle. “The client could not afford the van he needed,” Wilson explains. In a case that changed how the courts address the needs of para- and quadriplegics, he says, the judge “ruled that this compensation must be covered in addition to vehicle modification. … It became a pinnacle case.”

Outcomes such as this, he says, “give you more purpose. It allows you to connect at a personal level and know you did something to improve the quality of their life.”

Martin Banks
1818 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215-268-7646