The Social Security Disability Claim Appeal Process in Indiana

»Posted by on Feb 11, 2014 in Appeals Law | 0 comments

Denied Social Security Disability claims happen more often than most people think or want to believe. This is not because the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not want to provide assistance for legitimate claims; it is a defense mechanism against fraud. Unless an application if perfectly complete and error-free, the chances that it will be denied at the first attempt are quite high.

In Indiana, the initial claim is filed and coursed through the state’s Disability Determination Service Bureau (DDS). When a claim is denied, there are four steps that the claimant can take to appeal the DDS’s decision.

The first step in the appeal process is reconsideration, where the claimant formally requests the DDS to have a claims examiner review the case. Again, these requests have a low probability of achieving the desired result. If the reconsideration part is a bust, you can request that an administrative law judge of the SSA to be assigned to hear your case right in Indiana in one of the hearing offices, where you will be allowed to bring in witnesses to strengthen your case, as well as a claim appeal lawyer. This last accommodation would be advisable as a knowledgeable legal representative would be able to bring up relevant points that may not occur to you.

The third step in the Social Security Disability claim appeal would be the Appeals Council, which would only be considered if there was an error in the claim procedure or the decision to deny had an incorrect basis. The hearing offices for this would also be in several locations Indiana.

The last resort for a claim appeal in Indiana would be to file a lawsuit at the federal level. This can be accomplished with the help of a lawyer by bringing the case before either the Northern or Southern District Courts in Indiana.

To avoid having to go through this lengthy claim appeal process, it would be best to engage a lawyer in Indiana with a deep understanding of how to correctly make an SSD claim from the get go.

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Sharing the Blame under the Jones Act

»Posted by on Oct 23, 2013 in Jones Act, Personal Injury | 0 comments

A maritime lawyer that specializes in the Jones Act can ensure that the proper compensation is awarded to seamen who suffer injuries in the performance of their duties. They are especially important when negligence is an issue, where non-economic damages (pain and suffering) can be awarded, because a Jones Act maritime lawyer will know when the damages awarded are commensurate to the extent of the injury and degree of culpability of the employer. However, according to, there are instances when proving the employer’s negligence is not enough to secure the whole of what the plaintiff believes he deserves.

Even when a personal injury claim is successful under the Jones Act, the court can decide that some of the responsibility lies with the plaintiff. This can have a significant effect on the awarding of damages, as in the case of Simeonoff v. M/V Saga (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2001).

The plaintiff was able to prove to the district court that his injuries were a direct result of negligence and unseaworthiness on board that M/V Saga at the time of the accident. However, the court also considered his years of experience in operating the equipment (launcher) that caused his injuries. The court concluded that he was partially responsible for the accident for failing to use his experience and knowledge to prevent it, that he should have known better in fact, and pegged his culpability at 30%. As a result, the damages awarded to him were reduced by that much.

The plaintiff appealed the decision, and it was a good thing that he did. Under the Jones Act, a seaman cannot be held partially responsible for any mishap that occurs onboard in the performance of his duties where negligence of the employer is clearly proven. The appeals court therefore affirmed the damages awarded by the district court, but denied the reduction of 30%, which represented the plaintiff’s “share” of the blame.  Clearly, the personal injury lawyer or lawyers in this case knew what could and could not be allowed under the Jones Act, and this benefited the plaintiff greatly.

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Construction Site Accidents and the Importance of Seeking Legal Advice

»Posted by on Oct 19, 2013 in Personal Injury, Workplace Injury | 0 comments

One of the most common causes of accidents that lead to a high rate of injuries and death is work-related; and among all job types recorded in the US Department of Labor, accidents in and around construction sites top the list.

The early part of the 20th century showed the most alarming number in construction-related accidents, where workers were the primary victims. Though definitely a very regrettable issue, something good came out of it, at least, such as the implementation of the Workers’ Compensation Law, which was passed in 1902 in Maryland. It was between 1911 and 1920, though, when majority of the states started to adopt the law (North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas and Mississippi were the last five states to adopt it – between 1929 and 1948). The Workers’ Compensation Law mandated majority of employers in the US to provide workers insurance benefits (which included wage replacement and medical benefits) that will ensure fast financial assistance in the event of injury or death.

Another law that was passed, to significantly reduce the occurrence of construction accidents, was the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which actually led to the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA was tasked to “assure safe and healthful working conditions” in all working environments for the good of all employees.

By formulating safety construction site standards and making sure that employers and workers strictly observe them, OSHA has helped greatly in decreasing the number of construction site accidents. Though hundreds of fatal accidents still occurred, a significant downtrend, from 1992 – 2012, is very evident. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor, the number of fatalities in construction site accidents for the last five years, from 2008 – 2012, are 1,016, 879, 802, 781 and 817, respectively.

The top four causes of accidents, which OSHA calls the “Fatal Four,” are falls, electrocution, struck by object and caught-in/between. Other causes of accidents in construction sites (which may injure worker of private individuals, by the way) include insufficient scaffolding, falling objects, lack of edge protection, especially in roof work and improper use of ladders and/or hoists.

Seeking legal advice is highly important in the event of construction site accidents. A lawyer can help you with the procedures that include assessment of the extent of your injury, correctly filling out of claims forms and timely filing of your claims. This is due to the fact that many claimants are denied of their benefits due to lack of or wrong information written in forms. To many others whose claims have been approved, the amount of compensation given to them is far smaller than what they ought to receive. With a knowledgeable legal counsel assisting you, you will never fall into these added inconveniences.

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»Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Alimony, Divorce | 1 comment

The end of a marriage can bring about many issues that need to be sorted out. Among them are the equal sharing of properties and marital wealth. There are many instances where only one spouse provides the financial support to the other spouse, mainly because the other is his or her dependent. Once the relationship ends and the marriage is being dissolved, alimony could be one of the first and most important parts of the divorce proceedings.

Alimony is the monetary support given by a spouse to the other, usually granted by the court who determines if the divorce has caused unfair economic outcome to one of the spouses. It can either be temporary or permanent. Determining which would be applicable to you and your spouse can be explained by divorce lawyers. There are many types of alimony that can be given to a spouse who earns none or less than the other spouse.

  1. Permanent alimony – the type where the payment is indefinite. The court usually grants this type of alimony once the other spouse is unable to support themself or they are handicapped in some way, they have no employment skills, or have taken care of the home. However, this alimony can be stopped once the other spouse has remarried, cohabited with another or has died.
  2. Temporary alimony – also called alimony perdente lite, is granted while the divorce is ongoing or there is no final decision yet. It is paid as support for the divorce cost, everyday expenses and other things that one spouse (who is dependent on the time of marriage). It will cease once the divorce is final, or the court has decided for another type of alimony.
  3. Reimbursement alimony- this is granted as payment to the financial support on the spouse who has helped put the other spouse through school or any education. It is a continuous payment given until the tuition fee is fully paid, or at least half of it.
  4. Rehabilitative alimony – given as a support to help the other spouse who is not able to provide for themselves; potentially due to unemployment, disabilities, or other factors. This type of alimony can be given in intervals, and will be stopped once the court finds that the spouse is able to provide for him or herself.
  5. Lump-sum alimony – given when one spouse prefers to take monetary support rather than get properties or other valuables. The court is the one who can order the lump-sum to be one-time only, as alternative to the property and items of value.

It can be hard to compute the alimony amount, therefore asking about it with competent and trusted divorce lawyers could be beneficial in ensuring you get the right and fair amount.  Certain factors can affect the amount of alimony that can be granted, so talking with your divorce lawyers could greatly benefit you in the proceedings to come.

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Studies Show that Vitamin D May Ease Effects of Crohn’s Disease

»Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

A new study has revealed that taking extra Vitamin D may provide relief to individuals suffering from the often debilitating effects of Crohn’s Disease. Specifically, an increase in this vitamin may help individuals struggling with fatigue and a decrease in muscle strength.

Vitamin D is most well-known as the vitamin that individuals get by exposure to sunlight. However, it can also be found in a number of other foods, such as fish, milk, egg yolks, and cheese. Additionally, individuals needing higher amounts of Vitamin D can take specific supplements to get the amount they need. To read more about this study, click here.

Crohn’s Disease is a gastrointestinal disorder that can cause sufferers extreme fatigue and physical pain and discomfort. While there are a number of different causes of this condition, development of Crohn’s disease has been noted as an Accutane side effect.

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Bankruptcy in Ohio

»Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Bankruptcy | 0 comments

www.beustring.comMost people in Ohio are feeling the pinch of the economic crisis less than most states, but personal bankruptcies are still being filed more than the national average. Since a large portion of the average person’s debt is due to student loans, which is typically not covered in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, this is rather perplexing.

Debt Situation in Ohio

Ohioans are about average when it comes to their debt burden compared to other states, and the average credit score per person is a respectable 650. Ohio debt relief is still needed, however, mostly due to student loans and credit card debt.

The average Ohioan is $35,200 in debt, lower than the national average of $47,500, but still, that’s no small change. This includes mortgage and non-mortgage debt. Credit card debt is typically 17% of a household’s annual income, while student loans amount to an average of $27,713 per graduate.

Overall, Ohio residents have relatively stable financial health. For those who find their debts to be overwhelming, however, Ohio debt relief comes in the form of personal bankruptcies.

What are Personal Bankruptcies?

There are two types of bankruptcies that an individual can file. The first is Chapter 7, which is also referred to as liquidation because it involves the selling of non-exempt assets and property to pay off a portion of outstanding debt. To qualify for Chapter 7, the filer must have an income below the median wage in the state, or pass a means test which will indicate the inability of the debtor to pay off debts. Usually, a large portion of the debt is forgiven and the debtor can start fresh.

The second type is Chapter 13, which is also referred to as resettlement, because it is a court-mandated scheduling of debt payments based on the ability and capacity of a debtor to pay. No debt is forgiven, although there is a cap for the amount of annual interest a creditor may legally impose on outstanding amounts.

Bankruptcy as Ohio Debt Relief

In 2005, for every 66 Ohio residents in debt, one filed for personal bankruptcy. This is twice is high than the national average for the same year. The incidence rate has since dropped considerably, but it is still an option that many Ohioans have no problem considering. For student loans to be forgiven in a bankruptcy, however, very specific conditions have to be met. Bankruptcy lawyers would be able to advise a filer about this, as well how to best handle a bankruptcy so that the cost is not too excessive.

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Respondeat Superior in Truck Accident Liability

»Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in Auto Accident | 1 comment

You may be going “huh?” but when your truck accident lawyer considers this or the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, it refers to a type of liability where the owner of a tool may be held accountable for any damage or injuries it may cause.

If you are going “huh?” again, you should consider that a truck, because of its sheer size and weight, poses a greater danger to other vehicles and people the road than does your ordinary vehicle, and should therefore be operated by a qualified and responsible person. The truck driver, by virtue of the vehicle being controlled, may be considered a tool with a potential for great damage. The “owner” (employer) of that tool is therefore liable for any injury or damage that may result under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine.

Respondeat superior is phrased somewhat differently but may be interpreted to essentially mean the same thing. The liability for a truck accident may be laid at the door of the principal (owner) if it is due to driver negligence while in the execution of regular duties or otherwise functioning as an employee. The employer is liable under the theory that little or no care was given to the hiring of the truck driver, who provide not fit to be in control of a truck, or negligent hiring. There are other ways that an employer may be considered liable for a truck accident, including illegal extension of a truck driver’s work hours or inadequate maintenance of a truck, depending on the circumstances.

Claims against the employer when a commercial truck accident may be considered when the truck driver is incapable of compensating an injured party be he or she ever so willing. An experienced truck accident lawyer would be able to gauge what and how to file a claim against an employer to recover damages resulting from injuries.

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The Case of the Defective Ratchet

»Posted by on Apr 25, 2013 in Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), Jones Act, Personal Injury | 1 comment

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, is primarily a statute of the US federal government to ensure that inland transport of cargo and people are carried out by American vessels manned by Americans. However, the Jones Act also provides for the protection of the civil rights of seamen from work-related injury and death, and is often cited in personal injury cases usually handled by a maritime lawyer conversant with the intricacies of maritime law.

Maritime work is inherently dangerous, which is why the Jones Act parallels the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) protecting railroad workers in many respects. However, the provisions of the Jones Act with respect to personal injury claims need to be navigated carefully for a successful claim, because interpretations of negligence and liability can be tricky depending on the circumstances of the case.

Take for example the claim in Perkins v. American Electric Power (Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2001) where a second mate sustained serious injury because of a defective ratchet supplied by AEP. The contention was that AEP was negligent in that it failed to ensure the safety of its crew by providing adequate tools and training to carry out their tasks without fear of injury. The plaintiff, James W. Perkins, lost the case in district court, but was granted a partial reversal on appeal.

The case illustrates that while the ratchet was clearly defective, the plaintiff failed to provide evidence that AEP knew about the defect and allowed its use anyway. Moreover, the work history of the plaintiff negated the allegation that he needed additional training to do the task that resulted in his injury. The saving grace was that AEP was found negligent under the doctrine of seaworthiness inherent under the Jones Act for not providing safety ropes or handrails that may have prevented the accident.

It is not enough to think you have a clear case of negligence to prove a personal injury claim under the Jones Act because proving negligence requires a myriad of conditions to be met. Expert knowledge and experience of a maritime lawyer is needed in handling the case to have a reasonable hope of success.

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Personal Injury Lawyers

»Posted by on Apr 20, 2013 in Personal Injury, Wrongful Death | 1 comment

crowe and mulveyThe loss of a loved one can be difficult to deal with, especially when you know the cause of death is due to another person’s negligence or recklessness. Although nothing can ever fully compensate for the damages caused by this type of loss, filing a wrongful death claim can help those struggling to deal with this type of tragedy to relieve the financial burden they may have received.

When filing for wrongful death claims, personal injury lawyers advise clients to ask for compensation for funeral expenses, lost wages and medical bills. The bereaved family can also ask for punitive damages if they would like to penalize the responsible party for their wrongdoing. Compensatory damages can also be asked for the loss of companionship.

Personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits share some similarities, mainly because both occur as the result of willful or negligent actions on the part of others. However, wrongful death claims differ from personal injury claims, such as medical malpractice claims, in terms of the types of compensation that may be awarded and who is legally entitled to file the claim.

Compensation for wrongful death covers only things such as lost wages, medical treatments, and funeral expenses, as well as the pain and suffering the family may have experienced. Certain states also have some limitations on the amount of compensation the responsible party can give to the victims’ family. Knowing more about state laws regarding these things by asking personal injury lawyers can help you to better understand your legal rights and options in this tragic circumstance.

Filing a wrongful death claim can help in holding the responsible party accountable for their negligence or recklessness. This is especially important in those cases in which those who caused the death to occur face no other potential penalties for their irresponsible conduct.

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Fraud and Unfair Trade Practices in Texas

»Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Fraud | 1 comment

The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), originally enacted in 1914, is designed to protect consumers and business from fraud via unfair trade practices. The Texas state statute specifically prohibits 25 acts which are considered fraudulent under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act.  These include but are not limited to:

  • Mislabeling a product or service as that of another
  • Misleading the customers on the quality and certification of goods or services
  • Misrepresenting the condition of the product
  • Bad-mouthing competitors using false information
  • Making unnecessary repairs or replacements
  • Overcharging for repair of an item under warranty
  • Tampering with the odometer of a vehicle
  • False announcement of going out of business
  • Paid chain referral sales plan
  • Pyramiding
  • Failure to disclose necessary information prior to a purchase
  • Overpricing basic necessities in times of calamity

Also considered under unfair trade practices are those engaged in the following that have exhibited abusive behavior:

  • Debt collection
  • Warranties
  • Insurance

Anyone who has been a victim of unfair or deceptive trade practices can have recourse to the state statutes which is distinctly favorable to consumers. Most states mandate the awarding of minimum damages to any claimant that can prove the defendant engages in unfair or deceptive trade practices, even if there is no proof of actual damage done to the plaintiff. If the defendant knew the practice was unfair or defective, then you can sue for punitive damages. Compensation may be approved for the following

  • Refunds of purchase price, repair cost or rental fees
  • Medical bills in case of defective products or services which resulted in injury
  • Loss of income
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Pain and suffering

A plaintiff may also request for a cease and desist order for those businesses that engage in fraud from a civil court.

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