• Will My Personal Injury Case Affect My Social Security Disability Benefits?

    Michael Liner is a social security disability lawyer at Liner Legal, LLC.

    Will My Personal Injury Case Affect My Social Security Disability Benefits?

    Guest Article Written By Social Security Disability Lawyer Michael Liner (Liner Legal)

    Will I lose my social security if I get a personal injury settlement?

    Excellent question, and one that I get often from my clients. There are two types of disability benefits, SSD and SSI. SSD, which stands for Social Security Disability, is (generally) for people who have worked and paid into Social Security through FICA taxes for at least 5 of the 10 years immediately prior to disability onset. SSD recipients don’t have to worry about losing their benefits if they get a personal injury settlement. The richest man in the world, Bill Gates, could collect SSD if he became unable to perform any work. The other program the Social Security Administration offers is called SSI, Supplemental Security Income. SSI does not have the same requirements for a past work history. Instead, SSI is a needs-based benefit which requires the recipient to show that, in addition to being unable to work, they are also very impoverished. To be eligible for SSI, you must have under $2,000 in assets if you are single (not including the value of a home you live in, a car you use for transportation, and a few other specific allowances) or $3,000 if you are married. This cap on assets is referred to as the resource limit. A PI cash settlement is an asset that Social Security would consider and potentially make you ineligible to receive SSI.To summarize, if you are applying for or receiving SSD benefits, then you don’t need to worry about the impact of a personal injury settlement. However, if you are only eligible for SSI benefits, then a settlement that puts more than $2,000 (if single) or $3,000 (if married) may at least temporarily make you ineligible to receive benefits.

    Do I have to wait to apply for social security until my injury case is over?

    One of the eligibility requirements for Social Security disability is that an individual has a physical or mental impairment (or a combination of both) that keeps them from working for a period of a year or more. You can apply for disability benefits at any time, and from the Social Security perspective, it is not a requirement that you wait until you have filed a lawsuit or received a personal injury settlement. However, you should speak with your injury attorney about the effects that applying for SSD or SSI may have on your injury case.If you currently have a personal injury case, that means you were unfortunately involved in an accident which may be preventing you from returning to work, such as a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, PTSD, etc. You may want to apply for Social Security disability benefits right after your injury to help with the financial stress of medical bills or lost wages from not working. In addition, it may help your personal injury case because it further proves the long-term nature of the injuries resulting from the accident. Both Social Security disability claims and personal injury lawsuits can take a long time. Personal injury cases may take a year or more to settle. Although how long it takes to get approved for disability benefits depends greatly on the extent of the injuries, many SSD or SSI take two years or more. As soon as you believe that the injuries you suffered may keep you from maintaining employment for a year or more, it is a good idea to file for disability benefits to start the clock on the long and arduous waiting process.

    How do I begin the process of applying for disability?

    There are several different ways to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Most commonly, people will file their applications online by going to https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi/. It is important to note that if you are applying for SSI in addition to (or instead of) SSD, you need to be sure to check ‘yes’ to the question which asks just that in the online application. In addition to applying online, many people choose to apply by conducting a phone appointment with SSA or going into the office to apply. Less common, though still an opinion, is to complete a paper application for disability benefits.

    Do I need a lawyer to assist with my disability case?

    I always laugh when I’m asked this question. If you asked a car dealer if they thought you should buy a car, or a watch salesman if you should buy a watch, of course their answer would be yes. That being said, there are definitely bona fide reasons that favor hiring a lawyer to assist with your SSD or SSI claim even though someone can choose to pursue a claim on their own.

    You need a buffer…

    In my opinion, the most important reason to hire a lawyer to assist with your disability case is to create a buffer between yourself and the SSA. At Liner Legal, we require all communication between SSA and our clients to go through our office. We ask that our clients call us with their questions instead of calling SSA, and we also review all of their disability paperwork before its seen by SSA. The reason our office does this is because frequently when Social Security sends paperwork or calls on the phone about a case, they may ask questions in a way that can be confusing to the average person.

    For example…

    Social Security will ask about activities of daily living. “Can you cook, clean, grocery shop, or other household chores?” Typically, people will simply answer “yes” because they are human and it is a necessity for them to find a way to cook and clean in their daily life. What people don’t realize is that by just saying yes that it can hurt their disability case. We ask our clients to switch their point of view and think of these questions in another way. Instead of asking “can you do this or that,” think of the questions as asking, “How do your impairments impact your ability to cook, clean, grocery shop or do other household chores?” Then explain how your disability affects your ability to complete these simple tasks. Only saying yes gives Social Security ammo to deny your case because they aren’t receiving the whole picture.

    Conclusion…

    Besides handling the tricky communication piece, a lawyer is also someone you can trust to make sure appeals are timely filed, all your records are requested and submitted to SSA, and the case is properly prepared for an eventual hearing with an ALJ. Finally, and most important, time and time again studies have shown that a claim for disability is more likely to be approved with the assistance of a lawyer than without one.
  • Scar Injury – Can I Be Compensated for Pain and Suffering?

    Scar injury-scar-injuries

    The Short Answer…

    Yes. In fact, the largest part of the settlement for your scar injury will likely be from pain and suffering. But this is not always true (see below).

    The Reason…

    Many scar cases involve very little treatment, leaving your medical bills very low. This is the opposite of most injury cases where the medical bills are very high. However, the key difference is that a scar is often visible forever (depending on your recovery and treatment options available).Visible injuries usually bring higher settlements for personal injury cases because the injury is a constant reminder of what happened to you, whether that be a car crash, a fall, a dog bite, etc. These reminders cause you to suffer from your injuries over and over again. Check out our article on keloid scars for information about the permanency of scars.

    The Catch…

    Revision surgery for scar injuries is getting better every day. This is leading to miraculous recoveries for our clients, which is great. The downside is that with a strong recovery, the insurance company will want to offer a lower settlement amount because they will claim your pain and suffering is minimized (because the daily reminder of seeing the scar goes away).This may seem reasonable to you, but…

    We Don’t Let The Insurance Company Get Away With That…

    What about the trauma of having to go under the knife for surgery? What about the repeated trips to the doctor, both before and after surgery? And the likely need to have the scar revised in the future due to discoloration?These are serious issues that the insurance company needs to compensate you for.We hope this has answered your questions – if you have a scar injuries, you are entitled to every single penny, both for your actual damages and your pain and suffering.

    Have More Questions?

    Give us a call at 888.550.4026 or Contact Us through our website to discuss your options for your scar injury.

  • Head of Research and Motion Practice Division

    Head of Research and Motion Practice Division

    Are you a leader and ready to be challenged on a daily basis? Are you wanting the best legal training in the country? Do you want litigation experience right away?Then look no further.Mutrux Finney, P.C. is looking for an associate to work in its Clayton office to run the Research and Motion Practice Division of the firm.The things we’re looking for in an associate are optimism, grit and the desire to be great at your job. We only do contingent fee injury work. If you want to hustle to get new clients and want to be a part of the trial team helping everyday people, not just some attorney going through the motions, then apply with us. If you’re more interested in your monthly billables and your office view, then don’t apply – you will not like this job.

    Compensation and Benefits

    • Unlimited vacation days.
    • Dream Manager Program.
    • Bar dues and CLEs paid by the firm. We pay for top quality CLEs – not just call-ins. You will get the chance to learn from the best instructors in the country on regular basis. Must be willing to travel for CLEs.
    • Salary and bonus structure: commensurate with experience
    • Commission on all cases you bring into the firm.

    Job Duties and Responsibilities

    • Motion practice for all litigation files, to include the drafting and arguing of most motions on the record.
    • Manage day-to-day handling of our smaller pre-litigation files.
    • First-chair jury trials for smaller cases.
    • Second-chair jury trials for catastrophic loss department cases
    • Appellate practice when needed
    • Deposition practice on all files
    • Trial strategy and case development with lead attorney
    • Marketing: networking lunches, daily tweets and Facebook posts about the firm, blog writing and online videos.
    The successful candidate will be given a 3-month trial period to determine whether the firm and the associate are the right fit.You’ll be expected to work hard but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. If you think you have what it takes, apply with us and get ready to do something great.

    How to Apply

    Apply by emailing your resume and cover letter to Kelsey@MFInjury.com. In your cover letter, tell us why you want this job and what makes you the best candidate. Use “Burn the Boats” as your subject line. We do not care about your class rank.No candidate that fails to follow these instructions will be considered.
  • Post Car Crash: Own Your Medical Care

    Bam! You’re hit. It’s miserable. You’re in a car crash and your car is damaged. You’ve got aches and pains. It is incredibly inconvenient and disruptive. Thankfully, you are not catastrophically injured.

    Over the days, the aches and pains get worse. So what do you do? Start with these 5 steps and you’re on your way to getting yourself healed up and cared for.

    1. See a doctor.

    Yes, it seems clear enough but you must see a doctor. If you don’t have a primary care, go to urgent care. You absolutely must make sure any potentially life altering injury is diagnosed and/or ruled out. Just a headache that’s bothering you? May be an arterial dissection that could result in a stroke. Don’t think it will happen to you? Ask our client who had headaches post-crash (one he walked away from) that caused a stroke within 18 hours because he suffered a tear in an artery running to his brain. This is a risk in whiplash cases. He can’t see in his left eye anymore. Stomach pain that just won’t go away or hard to breathe? Could very well be a non-displaced rib fracture that didn’t present on the initial x-ray that may show up due to post-crash calcification. Unsure as to what all this means? That’s why you should see the doctor within 24 hours post-crash.

    2. Be honest.

    It is incredibly important that you are completely and utterly honest with the doctor about the car crash and your injuries. If you are not feeling pain, then say so. If you can’t remember what happened, then say so. You will likely be up against a multi-billion dollar insurance company after your crash. They have Special Investigative Units (S.I.V.) specifically designed to root out fraud and malingering. They are more sophisticated than you and have much more experience than you. You cannot trick them so start off on the right foot and be honest. Tell your doctor the truth. Do not exaggerate. Ever.

    3. Be assertive.

    You absolutely must advocate for yourself. If you do not assert yourself in your medical care, you will be stuck with chronic pain and issues down the road. Doctors are busy. Nurses are busy. Focus on what you can do to help yourself and get their attention. Make eye contact with them and inform them of the issues you are having and ask them what the treatment plan is and the reasoning behind it. Far too often, patients just accept what they are told and don’t understand why they didn’t get the treatment they needed or why they were sent to this physical therapist or chiropractor.

    As the injured party, you must ask why you only got an x-ray and no MRI. Why are you being prescribed these pills? What are trigger point injections? You should be asking these questions. We consistently see clients needing MRIs to diagnose their back and neck injuries but are only being told the x-ray is fine and then 8 weeks later getting an MRI showing a huge herniationPatients do not know the difference between the two and it can cause an injury to persist undiagnosed for much longer that needed. Assert yourself with you medical care. No one else is going to do it for you.

    4. Be Clear.

    It is not your doctor’s job to read your mind about the car crash and your injuries. We see medical records on a daily basis that do not reflect what the client/patient reports. This is not always the patient’s fault, but you need to do what you can to minimize this risk. So you must be very clear with the doctor about your symptoms. Do not rush through filling out your paperwork in the waiting room. This will become part of your medical records on which your doctor will rely on and the auto insurance company will scrutinize for any discrepancy. The best way to address this is to take your time on the intake forms. If something doesn’t accurately describe how you feel, write in the answer. You are not confined to the pain meter or the a-f answers on the page. Be clear and write in what and how you feel. Also, clearly let the doctor know, both in person and on the intake forms, when, where and how this injury occurred. Failing to mention a crash is a case killer. You must take your time and be clear. This is your physical health we are talking about here.

    5. Follow through.

    This one may be the most frustrating for everyone—the patient, the doctors, the rehab team, the lawyers, etc… When an injured party fails to follow through with the prescribed care, it is nearly impossible to get the person back to pre-injury status. As a result, small injuries become large injuries over time. It is like a small leak in your basement—if you don’t take care of it early and completely, it will turn into a massive foundational problem. It is the same with smaller back and shoulder problems.
    If you don’t follow through on the care, they become chronic issues. Doctors are not prescribing treatment for the fun of it—it has a purpose to get your up and running again. Make sure you follow through on your treatment. Undoubtedly, things come up and appointments must be cancelled. That is understandable. But reschedule them. The typical scenario is when someone begins to feel a little better, they stop getting therapy for a couple weeks and then go cut the grass and BAM! The pain is back. You’ve just made it that much harder to get you what you deserve. That insurance company will be all over you, calling you a liar, a cheat and a fraud. So follow through.

    Conclusion

    The overarching theme is that you absolutely must take ownership for you and your health. Following these 5 steps will help you do that and get you on the road to a proper, healthy and quick recovery.

    Give us a call at 888.550.4026 if you have any questions.

  • Risk Factors Associated with Keloid Scar Formation

    Risk Factors Associated with Keloid Scar Formation

    Not everyone is created equally when it comes to keloid scar injuries. Several factors can affect your susceptibility to get a keloid scar and your potential treatment options.

    Keloid Scars and Skin Tone

    Keloid scars can develop in people of all skin types, but individuals with darkly pigmented skin are far more likely to develop keloid scars. How much more likely? If you have darker skin, you’re 15 times more likely to have a keloid scar develop! Your treatment options are not limited by this fact, but success rates in repairing the scar are greatly diminished.

    Keloid Scars and Family History

    Keloid scars tend to run in families, so your family history matters. But does this really matter when it comes to treatment options? No – family history has nothing to do with treatment possibilities.  

    Keloid Scars and Age

    Think you’re less likely to develop keloid scar because you’re a healthy, young, and in good shape? Wrong! You’re more likely to get a keloid scar than children and the elderly.But don’t worry, there’s good news. You have more treatment options and you’re more likely to heal than elderly people – children still have an edge on you in that category.

    Keloid Scars and Gender

    Your gender has no effect on your chances of getting a keloid scar and doesn’t limit your treatment options.

    Other Topics Regarding Keloid Scar Injuries

    Have you suffered a scar injury due to no fault of your own? Give us a call at 888-550-4026 to see if you have a case.

  • Treatment Options for Keloid Scars

    Treatment Options for Keloid Scars

    Corticosteroid injections (intralesional steroids)

    These are injections that cause a moderate amount of pain but are intended to flatten the scar. The injections are given every 4-8 weeks, which can cause redness around the wound site. The redness can then be treated with a laser to reduce the color. Unfortunately, the keloid scar may look better, but the injection typically leaves a mark from the inserting the needle.

    Surgery

    This is obvious – it’s the process of cutting out the keloid scar. As you might expect, this can be risky because it can cause a larger keloid scar to form. There are usually far better options than surgery, but sometimes it’s necessary. After surgery, compression is applied to the wound site for several months to reduce the chance of the keloid scar reforming.

    Laser

    A pulsed-dye laser can be used to flatten the scar and to reduce redness. This is an extremely safe operation. The only real downsides are that you may need to undergo several treatments and the cost can be quite high. Most insurance plans won’t cover this type of procedure because it’s considered to be an elective procedure.

    Silicone Gel or Sheeting

    This is the process of wearing a sheeth or sheet of silicone over the affected area continuously for months. As you can imagine, this can be difficult to do, especially for children. This treatment option is rarely used.

    Pressure

    This is like the process of applying silicone, except it’s simply the process of applying pressure to the wound site. This is typically done in conjunction with other types of treatments like surgery, laser and injections.

    Cryotherapy

    Cryotherapy is occasionally used to freeze the keloid scar. Liquid nitrogen is used to flatten the scar. However, this can cause the scar to darken, which will require further treatment by laser.

    Interferon

    The body produces interferon to fight off viruses and bacteria. This can be injected into the body to reduce keloid scars. Another option is to apply a topical ointment called Aldara to stimulate the body to produce interferon. It’s uncertain whether the results last.

    Radiation

    Doctors have used radiation to treat keloid scars for several decades. Due to the risk of the radiation causing malignant tumors, however, the use of radiation has greatly diminished. Doctors generally use two basic types of radiation — either internal brachytherapy or external electron beam irradiation. Generally, internal radiation is more suitable for linear-shaped keloid scars or keloid scars in curved areas like the shoulder or knee areas. External radiation, on the other hand, is typically used when the keloid scar is large and bulky or smaller than 4 cm and in a relatively flat area of the body.

    Other Topics Regarding Keloid Scar Injuries

    If you suffer from a keloid scar and think you have a case, give us a call at 888-550-4026 to discuss your options.

  • What is a Keloid Scar?

    What is a Keloid Scar?

    In short, a keloid scar is a scar that is raised, thicker, and lumpier than a normal scar. This can cause serious problems if you’re looking to have your scar injury repaired.We see keloid scars all the time in personal injury cases. This is because most of the scars we see are caused by some sort of blunt force trauma like an auto accident or a fall (as opposed to a scar caused by a sharp object like a knife or during surgery).

    Causes of a Keloid Scar

    The cause of keloid scars is generally unknown by the medical community. What is known, however, is how the keloid scar begins to form in the wound.A keloid scar begins to form within existing scar tissue. As the scar begins to heal, collagen will overgrow the wound area, causing a lump to form outside of the wound.

    Symptoms of a Keloid Scar

    1. Tough, tightened skin;
    2. Itchiness and discomfort;
    3. Grows larger over time;
    4. Raised area of skin that is lumpy and rigid;
    5. Flesh-colored, usually pink or red; and
    6. Keloid scars tend to be larger than the original wound.

    Other Topics Regarding Keloid Scar Injuries

    Have you suffered a scar injury due to no fault of your own? Give us a call at 888-550-4026 to see if you have a case.
  • Does My Insurance Policy Cover Damage Caused by Riots and Vandalism?

    The answer to this question is…PROBABLY.It really depends on two things. First, does your insurance policy specifically list riots and vandalism as covered “perils?” Most insurance policies do. Assuming you’re in the majority, the next thing you need to look at is whether your building was vacant, and if so, for how long. Most policies have an exclusion for vacant buildings. In other words, if the building was vacant at the time the damage occurred, you’re not covered. Policies typically specify how long the building must be vacant before coverage is excluded, so check your policy to see how long you have before you lose your coverage.So if your building was occupied, the GOOD NEWS is that you likely have coverage if your building was damaged. The BAD NEWS is that you might have some cleaning up to do. If you need some help swinging that broom, give us a call. 888.550.4026. We’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves and get to work.One last note. Just because you’re covered, doesn’t mean you’re totally covered. Your amount of coverage for riots and vandalism may be limited by the policy. Check your limits and pay the additional money for a rider if you think your policy doesn’t provide enough coverage.
  • The Stockley Verdict is Out – Here’s the Evidence

    So the Stockley verdict is out. He was found not guilty. What do you think? Review the evidence for yourself.

    Not Guilty Verdict

    Findings and Verdict, by Judge Timothy Wilson

    State’s Memorandum in Favor of Guilty Verdict

    Argument for State, filed by Robert Steele and Aaron Levinson

    Defendant’s Memorandum in Opposition to Guilty Verdict

    Argument for Defense, filed by Neil Bruntrager and Brian Millikan

    Video Provided by St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Video Presented at Trial According to KMOV

    Photographs of the Scene, Vehicles and Guns

    What’s Your Verdict?

    So what do you think? Let us know.

  • Scar Injuries: If a surgery causes a scar, can I be compensated?

    Scar Injuries: If a surgery causes a scar, can I be compensated?

    A Common Scenario for Scar Injuries

    Scar injuries sometimes come from sources we don’t always think about. For example, if you break your arm in a car accident, the actual broken arm may not cause your scar. What will cause your scar, however, is the surgery you need to repair your broken arm.

    Why Scars are Commonly Overlooked

    In an injury case, what most people focus on is the broken arm. What’s often overlooked is the thing that can last for the rest of your life; the scar from the surgery to fix the broken arm. Why is this? Medical records rarely say much, if anything, about the scar left by the surgery. Without photos from the client, this can easily be forgotten.

    Does it Really Matter?

    Yes, it matters a lot. Scars stick with you forever unless you undergo revision surgery to fix the scar – yes, a surgery to fix a scar caused by a surgery. Crazy, right?What is necessary to get a surgery? Cold hard cash. Since the surgery is likely to be considered an elective surgery by your health insurer, they likely won’t cover it.Thus, if you want to have the scar repaired, you’ll have to go after the person/company that caused the original injury that led to the surgery that caused the scar. In reality, you will most likely seek compensation from the insurance company. 

    So, Can I be Compensated for the Scar?

    Yes – if the scar was the result of another person’s negligence. However, and this is a big however, you will need to have an expert (usually a surgeon), give an opinion that the scar was the result of the negligence. Once you have this opinion, you will submit it to the insurance company as a part of your demand.

    More Questions?

    Give us a call. We’ll be happy to answer your questions. 888.550.4026.
 

CALL NOW