Will A Personal Injury Settlement Affect My Social Security Disability Benefits?

When a United States citizen becomes disabled, he or she might become a recipient of social security disability benefits (SSDI). These are only applicable when the potential recipient has worked long enough to receive those benefits — they usually aren’t available to just anyone. For example, an undocumented worker wouldn’t be able to apply and receive SSDI (we hear a collective sigh of relief from our more conservative readers).

That said, anyone in “need” can apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) without paying into the pool.

We receive a number of inquiries from SSDI recipients who have been injured by another party wondering if a personal injury lawsuit and settlement would affect their benefits. We receive a number of inquiries from people who are still waiting on SSDI after turning in an application. In these latter cases, the people seeking compensation via civil litigation usually only applied for SSDI because of the injury that led to said litigation.

In either case, SSDI benefits will not be impacted by any damages repaid through civil litigation. Anything you win through a settlement or in a courtroom verdict is generally yours to keep, minus the portion your lawyer sucks away. The same is true if you’re a Medicare recipient. SSDI also remains unaffected by other insurance benefits, excluding workers comp.

However, if you’re an SSI recipient, a personal injury settlement would likely mean your eligibility status would be revoked — so it’s important for you to know the difference before mounting a big lawsuit.

A social security law firm can help facilitate collaboration between different law practices when necessary. This is especially necessary when you seek SSDI at the same time as another lawyer is helping you build a personal injury case against a negligent party. And if you’re not 100 percent sure whether you’re on SSI or SSDI, then you should speak to your social security law attorney about the difference — because your personal injury attorney would benefit from a civil settlement, and there’s no reason to suggest a potential conflict of interest when you don’t have to.

There are ways of “protecting” SSI benefits if you still wish to mount a personal injury case. One way to do this is to create a special needs trust (SNT) for any personal injury settlement damages. If you win the case, into the SNT they go. You would still be able to access the funds, just in a different way. Again, the best way to consider this course of action is to speak with your attorney first.

Unfortunately, if you still work but collect SSDI and are injured (again) at work, then your workers comp might be impacted by the SSDI you already collect. There are exclusions based on certain expenses — including legal fees — that you can use to offset the difference. Speak to your attorney!

When Is It Illegal To Kick Someone Off Their Health Insurance?

We previously discussed the possibility that COVID-19 — the very thing that health insurance is supposed to financially protect us against — resulted in the loss of employment, which in turn could leave someone suddenly without insurance. That makes us financially vulnerable in these uncertain times, and could spell financial doom if COVID strikes. A lot of people are asking when insurance providers can legally kick someone off their insurance. Here’s our answer!

Many people are dropped from their health insurance due to payment snafus. This might be the result of a clerical error on behalf of the provider, or it might be the result of an automated billing system that ended or changed — and you forgot to check. The Affordable Care Act increased the restrictions on insurance providers who want to suddenly cancel coverage for frivolous reasons, but the issue is still complicated. It still causes headaches.

Before the ACA passed, most states had allowed insurers to cancel coverage without warning if they discovered that the insured party was ill or became pregnant. The ACA still allows insurers to cancel coverage if the insured fails to pay up or knowingly provides false information on an application.

Needless to say, these are the two reasons that insurers often give when they drop coverage. 

But the cancellation should never be sudden. The ACA requires insurers to provide notification when a policyholder neglects to make payments on time. The policyholder has three months to continue making payments or face total cancellation of the insurance plan. The problem is that some people lose coverage without notification because of a loophole when they make too much to justify a subsidy that was previously provided. In this case, most states mandate a 30-day window before coverage can be dropped — but not all states.

If you believe that an insurance provider dropped coverage illegally and without notifying you under the ACA, then contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Can I Sue For Domestic Violence?

First things first: if you were the victim of domestic violence, then you’ll want to remove yourself from that living situation as soon as possible, seek both medical and emotional support, and then address any legal issues. Call the police, ask to file charges, and obtain legal counsel to smooth the process. In general, we suggest that an abused spouse divorce the abuses immediately. Divorce isn’t always a rapid or smooth process, but in these cases a judge is likely to help you out and streamline the process as much as possible.

Keep in mind that criminal and civil proceedings are separate: they don’t mutually exclude one another from occurring.

A spokesperson for Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. said, “We do see divorce cases that involve ongoing domestic violence proceedings. Those criminal proceedings are generally separate from our civil cases, and we try to keep it that way. The best case scenario is that the violent partner is not involved in the process. And that’s the most usual scenario, too, because a judge will almost always rule in favor of a spouse who has had to deal with a violent home through no fault of their own. It’s a tough scenario.”

A common example is made using the criminal murder case against O.J. Simpson. He was acquitted, but the family of the deceased still successfully sued Simpson for millions. Things might be slightly different depending on the case, however. For example, the victim of domestic violence might be allowed to sue for restitution in a criminal case, which makes a civil lawsuit redundant and more easily dismissed.

A common question made by a victim of domestic violence is whether or not they can “drop the charges” later. The short answer is no, absolutely not. It’s always up to the D.A.’s office whether or not to drop the charges or continue with prosecution. The office will absolutely hear you out if you believe the situation was misconstrued or blown out of proportion, but in general you have no real say in the matter. 

There’s a good reason for that: when the police are called, there is generally a reason why. Just because tempers have cooled and the situation doesn’t seem as momentous as it once did doesn’t mean that a crime was not committed. 

Unfortunately, not all states allow family members to sue one another. These include: Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. You also can’t sue a family member in civil court in Washington D.C. These ridiculous laws were built on the notion that allowing one family member to sue another could “break” the family unit. Sometimes, these laws are bypassed in domestic violence cases or disputes.

You have a number of options when suing for domestic violence damages, just as in any other personal injury case. These include: medical expenses, lost wages or income, future lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering. You may also sue for punitive damages in some states.

What To Do After A Boating Accident?

Boating accidents occur when boat operators fail to avoid collision with other boats or underwater objects — but in almost every case, you can only take legal action when another boat operator is involved in the accident. Hit an underwater rock, and you can’t exactly sue the rock! In any case, there are a number of steps you should take during and after a boating accident.

First and foremost, call the coast guard, police, or whatever authority is responsible for the jurisdiction in which you are operating your boat. Inform them of what to expect when they arrive on the scene. You’ll want to let them know if either boat is in danger of sinking and whether or not rescue services might be necessary.

Second, try to conduct a rescue if you’re trained to do so. Throw a life jacket or safety ring if the other boat is sinking. Do not leave your boat unless absolutely necessary.

If the area is heavily trafficked, then ask other boat operators to move aside and remain in the immediate vicinity so police can question them. Take witness statements if and when appropriate. You might need those statements in court later. Your personal injury attorney will certainly want to see them.

Once the accident scene is cleared and you are free to leave, seek medical attention for any injuries. Be sure to keep all bills and medical documents in a folder or binder. Add the witness testimony, police statements, and your own written explanation of what happened. This will all help your lawyer determine whether or not a case can be built. 

Keep a journal as you recover. This will help you organize your thoughts and give you a better chance of recollecting the events that occurred. A judge might be interested to know how you felt when determining damages for pain and suffering.

What Is A Pedestrian Accident And What Should You Do After One?

A pedestrian accident occurs when a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian walker, runner, or biker during operation of the vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), around 5,000 people are killed in pedestrian accidents every year. Around 76,000 pedestrians will be injured each year. Many accidents occur when a pedestrian is jay-walking — meaning that it’s not always the vehicle operator’s fault.

That said, anyone who was abiding by pedestrian laws but was struck by a motor vehicle should seek advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. In order to build a case against the vehicle operator, negligence must first be determined.

The burden of proof relies on material evidence and witness/expert testimony to establish a defendant’s negligence in contributing to the pedestrian accident. According to FindLaw, negligence occurs when a defendant “owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances.” This might occur when a business owner fails to properly train an employee, who then gets into an accident during which a pedestrian is injured.

A third party might also be liable for the accident: the city, state, or municipality responsible for maintaining sidewalks or roads where the accident occurred. 

A number of pedestrian accidents occur due to reckless driving. Factors include: driving over the speed limit, texting or speaking on the phone while driving, failing to obey traffic signals, failing to signal, driving while intoxicated by drugs, alcohol, or exhaustion, or simply failing to account for weather conditions. 

Other pedestrian accidents occur when a walker fails to heed traffic signals (such as the “walk” signal) and disrupting the flow of traffic, failing to use a crosswalk, or assuming a vehicle will stop when entering a traffic lane. In these instances, the pedestrian is usually at fault — and a driver might be able to mount a case against them!

Premise liability law and pedestrian accident law are deeply connected, because pedestrian accidents might occur when a land maintainer fails to, well, maintain the land. If the conditions leading to the accident were created or exacerbated because of a land owner’s failure to make necessary repairs in the timely fashion, then either the pedestrian or the vehicle operator — or both — might be able to mount a lawsuit against the land owner.

If you were involved in a pedestrian accident — either as a pedestrian or the operator of a vehicle — then you should avoid panic. Call the police before you do anything else. Try to help the injured party if possible. Ask anyone who witnessed the accident to refrain from leaving the scene of the accident. Don’t actually say anything to anyone else. This means refrain from providing information to other drivers, the police, or insurers until you contact a lawyer.

Seek medical attention if you need it. Keep documentation of medical bills and witness testimony on hand when you meet with your lawyer — and remember to keep your head. You’re in good hands!

Open Container Laws Might Be Stranger Than You Think

If you’re old enough to drive, then you’ve probably heard that an open container — anywhere in your vehicle, and even technically closed — is enough to get you in legal hot water. Well, the truth is this: it depends completely on where you live. The biggest reason for the confusion is the difference between state law and federal law. In general, state law supersedes federal law, and municipal law supersedes state law. Sounds complicated? It is.

An open container is permitted in these states: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Keep in mind, that this law doesn’t necessarily permit a passenger to be drinking while the vehicle is in operation. Passengers may only drink in these states: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Mississippi might have the strangest (and most unexpected) open container law on the books. Believe it or not, the driver can drink an alcoholic beverage while operating the vehicle. Keep in mind that this is a state law, which means some communities might bar the practice altogether. And it’s always illegal by federal law. The safest course is to forego the booze — both legally and literally — until you’re safe at home.

Keep in mind that even when having an open container, drinking, or having a passenger who is drinking during the operation of a vehicle, the unfortunate driver who is pulled over will almost certainly be asked to perform a DUI test. It doesn’t take much booze to put you over the legal limit, so is it worth the risk? Probably not, but we’ll let you be the judge.

Some intoxication tests don’t work well and are not reliable. If you’re pulled over or charged with a DUI, we strongly suggest you find a lawyer who specializes in DUI law as soon as possible.

How Are Slip And Fall Laws Different In The U.S. Capitol?

Washington DC is known for having some of the most liberal, progressive laws in the entire nation — so much so, in fact, that about 90 percent of the city’s residents tend to vote Democrat, and most are also in favor of DC statehood. What do those laws say about work, construction, or curbside slip and fall accidents in the city? There are a few statutes to keep in mind, and you’ll want to get moving fast if you want to build a lawsuit.

Generally, it’s important to determine where the slip and fall occurred — not location-wise, but ownership-wise. Obviously, there’s nothing you can do if you have an accident at home when you own the building. But let’s say you’re leasing a unit from a landlord, and that landlord didn’t make necessary repairs to prevent your accident and injury. The landlord might be liable.

Similarly, if you take a tumble on a DC street or sidewalk, the municipality or even business owner might be financially responsible depending on where the accident occurred. Any question on who might be responsible? Find yourself a personal injury lawyer for help.

After you’ve determined who might be responsible for your slip and fall, it’s time to take a look at the laws. DC employs a “contributory negligence” statute that might reduce or eliminate your case’s merit if you were even partially responsible for the accident. For example, if you get into a fight on the street and trip over a pothole, then you’re out of luck — because the accident was partly on you. Your negligence contributed to the injury.

You might not have contributed to the accident, but the defendant of the lawsuit is almost certain to counter your case by arguing you did. That’s why it’s so important to keep impeccable documentation, including police statements, witness testimony, pictures, a written statement of what happened in your own words (and perhaps a journal), and medical bills. Washington DC doesn’t allow “comparative negligence” in personal injury cases, which means your award won’t be reduced by a percentage of the blame assigned to you.

But that’s not good news. DC’s contributory negligence means you get nothing if you have any amount of blame. It’s one of the less liberal-friendly DC statutes.

Then there is that phrase everyone hates to hear: “statute of limitations.” This puts a cap on the amount of time you have to build a case, starting from the time of the accident. DC’s personal injury or property damage statute of limitations is set at three years. You might have more or less time depending on circumstances, so discuss the details with your lawyer. 

How do you win a slip and fall case? Like any personal injury case, you need to prove that another party’s negligence resulted in your accident. For example, if the city knew about a pothole you tripped over but failed to fill it in a timely fashion, then you have a good case. The trick is actually proving that the city knew about the pothole. 

Biden’s Biggest Scandal Is His Dog “Major”

The importance of reigning in violent dogs can’t be overstated. And it starts from the time they’re born. Training needs to happen immediately, or “old dogs won’t learn new tricks.” President Biden’s dog “Major” recently had his second biting incident at the White House. This isn’t too big a shock — after all, both dogs are in a radically new environment where excitability can easily get the best of them.

Some dogs have two distinct modes: “walking” mode, where they’re on the move and understand that this is probably someone else’s territory. And “stationary” mode, where they’re on the lookout for potential threats to what is currently their territory. This is what gets many dogs into trouble. If your dog becomes aggressive to new visitors the second you stop moving, then you need to train harder.

We wouldn’t be surprised if these bites lead to a lawsuit against Biden sooner or later (especially if they don’t stop). If you were injured by a dog bite, you should seek the counsel of a personal injury lawyer right away. You don’t deserve to have to pay for medical bills because of someone else’s animal. 

Keep in mind that infection is the biggest predictor of how you’ll fare after a dog bite — and infection rates are high for dog or cat bites.

Emergency Medicine Physician Stephen Sayles III, MD says, “The No. 1 concern with these bites is infection. You may need hospitalization and require intravenous antibiotics. You should always see a primary care provider if you’re bitten.”

If the bite results in a breakage of skin and/or bleeding, clean the wound with soap and warm water immediately. Compress and wrap the wound with a clean cloth of bandage. Then get your butt to the doctor right away. If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last five or ten years, you’ll be getting one. When you return, your doctor will have given you step by step instructions for care — make sure you follow them.

What To Do When A Bank Saddles You With More Debt Than You Can Pay

It’s an understatement to say that big banks give big loans to people who will never be able to repay the debt. These predatory loans have left many people financially ruined. Suffice it to say, it’s a two-way street where blame is concerned. Anyone who wants a loan should seek financial counseling first. And banks should be more responsible before approving someone for a loan. Here’s what you can do when a bank saddles you with more debt than you could ever repay.

You know that old piece of advice where you find that daily vice, and slice it away? It might be a shake from McDonald’s, a coffee from Starbucks, or something as simple as a candy bar from the grocery store. Well, it’s good advice. Those pennies and dollars really add up. If you’re an impulsive shopper, never go to the store on an empty stomach. Find a way to limit online spending. And be sure to pay off your credit cards as soon as you make a purchase (although for the purpose of this article we’ll assume your credit cards are nearly maxed).

The point is this: a few lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Think about sustainability. Live out in the country, or anywhere else where you can own animals? Consider purchasing a couple hens. They take care of your egg needs and all they require for sustenance are the scraps from your table. Use coupons and cash-saving apps. Start eating healthier. Drink tap water instead of bottled. Don’t go out to eat. Use the library or websites to watch movies and shows (i.e. “cut the cable”). Unless you’re living out of a vehicle, you don’t need a gym membership.

Start using cash to pay for purchases. Psychologically, this is the way to go. When you pay with cash, you actually take note of the “loss,” so to speak. When you pay electronically, it’s much easier to part with money. Don’t make it so easy.

Another method is to list every debt you owe, and pay them off in the order from highest interest rate to lowest. Pay minimum payments on any other card, but use the lowest interest card for purchases.

Negotiating debt is one of the scariest actions you will ever take — in large part because your entire future depends on the outcome. But when all else fails, you need to do this. Find a financial consultant and a debt settlement attorney, and go to town making plans. Many banks sell debt to a third party, while more predatory banks — like Bank of America — will go after you themselves. Don’t make it easier for them.

Debt settlement isn’t just for credit cards. You can use it for help paying off medical bills, personal loans, retail cards, cash advance loans, student loans, and even car loans (if your vehicle has already been repossessed). Get cracking!

Who Decides If A Criminal Should Receive Probation?

Most anyone who finds himself or herself a victim of the criminal justice system for the first time won’t understand the nuance of what’s happening — and certainly, he or she will not know if justice has been done the way it was supposed to. For example, there’s a very specific system in place to determine whether or not a person should be put on probation as an alternative to long-term incarceration.

Corrections officials play a key role in this process. This type of officer will dive into an offender’s background, history, and individual circumstances surrounding the accused’s crime. A report is filed with the court system, after which a judge will make the decision about whether or not the details are suitable for a probation sentence. The judge makes this decision based on the nature of the crime, the likelihood of reoffending, and the report. 

The very nature of the work done by a probation officer makes the opportunity for corrupt activity simple. If the subject of probation and probation officer tell two different stories, who does the court listen to with a vested interest? The probation officer, of course. It’s the sole discretion of this officer to determine whether or not a subject on probation should be placed behind bars for allegedly reoffending. But what if the probation officer lied?

It’s a difficult situation for a former convict. The simplest thing to do when you feel like the world is out to get you is call a lawyer. It might be difficult to prove that a case has merit once probation is ordered, but you can still ask for a hearing to discuss the conduct of a probation officer.

That said, a violation of probation by the offender is statistically more likely. Penalties for violating probation might include hefty fines or additional jail time.