Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Personal Injury Laws in Indiana
Below are the answers to common initial questions many clients have when they first contact Keller and Keller. We hope that the information below address many initial concerns you may have, but if you don't find the answers here, please contact us with questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
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Are Indiana’s highways safer because the speed limit for semi-trucks is lower than for cars?
That’s a good question! Certainly, the motivation behind the lower speed limit for trucks is safety. Indiana and the six other states—California, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Washington—that currently have a speed limit of at least 5 miles per hour less for semi-trucks believe that slower trucks result in safer highways. However, there are concerns about the logic behind this belief. We take a look at the question here.
It Is a Fact That Speed Kills
After the repeal of the national maximum speed limit in 1995, states were free to set their own speed limits. At the time, several states took the opportunity to raise the limit for cars but not for trucks. The thinking was that trucks are more dangerous at higher speeds because they are more difficult to maneuver and need more distance to stop. As speed limits for cars continue to increase—going as high as 80 or 85 mph in some areas—supporters of truck speed limits believe that trucks should never be allowed to travel at those speeds. While it is true that speed plays a part in a large number of highway crashes, there is concern that the difference in speed between cars and semi-trucks poses more problems than it solves.
How the Speed Differential Creates Problems
Proponents of a uniform speed limit for cars and trucks argue that it is the difference in the speed of travel that creates dangerous conditions, not the speed of the truck. For example, if trucks are driving at lower speeds, cars wishing to drive the speed limit will need to pass every time they approach a truck. Because drivers often pass carelessly, this creates a hazard that would not exist if the two vehicles were traveling at the same speed. Another argument in support of a higher speed limit for trucks is that it would reduce the number of hours a trucker must drive to get to his destination, thus decreasing the risk of driver fatigue and, ultimately, decreasing the number of trucks on the road.
Whatever the Cause, We Are Here for You
Whether Indiana ever votes to repeal the differential speed limit or not, truck drivers will continue to be responsible for their own actions when they cause a highway collision. If a truck driver is exceeding the 65 mph limit and causes a crash, he should be held liable. If the speed limit for trucks is increased and a trucker fails to stop in time to avoid an accident or loses control of his truck due to speed, he is also liable for the damage he causes. If you were in a crash with a commercial semi-truck in Indiana that was not your fault, contact Keller & Keller at one of our Indiana offices. We protect the rights of truck accident victims in Indiana.
Does my severe skin condition qualify me for SSDI benefits?
It may sound absurd to collect disability benefits for a skin condition, but for people who suffer from painful, chronic skin disorders, it can be a lifesaver. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is very clear about the symptoms they consider severe enough to qualify you for benefits. As with all disability determinations, the bottom line is that the condition must be verified by medical evidence and must prevent you from being able to do any gainful activity for an extended period of time. These requirements can be particularly difficult to meet with a skin disorder and you will want to work with the experienced New Mexico SSDI attorneys at Keller & Keller.
What You Will Need to Prove
A serious skin condition can cause the sufferer to experience constant pain and require extensive treatment, preventing them from holding down a job. Some of the questions that will be asked to determine eligibility for SSDI include the following:
- How extensive are your skin lesions?
- How frequent are your flare-ups?
- How do your symptoms limit your activity?
- How extensive is your treatment?
- How does your treatment limit your activity?
If your answers to these questions indicate a severe condition that affects your ability to function normally, you may qualify for benefits.
Skin Conditions Included in the Listing of Impairments
While a condition does not have to be specifically listed in the SSA’s Blue Book in order for you to qualify for benefits, it can make the process easier if your condition is listed. Currently, the SSA includes the following conditions under its skin disorder section:
- Bullous disease
- Chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes
- Hidradenitis suppurativa
- Genetic photosensitivity disorders
Again, simply being diagnosed with and treated for one of these conditions does not automatically qualify you for benefits. You must also prove that the condition is expected to persist, is severe enough to limit your activity, and prevents you from working.
Work With an SSDI Attorney to Build a Strong Case
If you are suffering from a debilitating skin disorder, contact our Albuquerque SSDI attorneys to discuss your application for benefits. We can help you gather the evidence you will need to substantiate your disability claim.
What can I post on social media after my car accident?
NOTHING. Ok, we realize this might be impossible for some of you. If you are a Facebook or Twitter addict, you may not be able to avoid social media after a car accident. However, it is very important that you don’t post anything related to your accident or your recovery and that you are aware of how your social media activity may affect your injury claim.
Too Much Posting and Liking Could Affect Your Settlement
Many of us connect to the world through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Liking and sharing posts is how we get recipes, stay current on news, find out what other people are up to, and let people know what we are up to. It is that last activity that can make it hard for a personal injury attorney to negotiate for the maximum possible settlement for his or her client. If you are sharing pictures or information about the crash or about your daily life since the accident, it can be used to lower your damages in a settlement. Some of the pitfalls of using social media following a crash include the following:
- Saying something about the crash that contradicts what you said earlier or what your attorney is saying during negotiations.
- Sharing pictures of an active lifestyle—working out, attending kids’ games, taking a vacation—when you are claiming serious injuries.
- Badmouthing the other driver (even if you don’t share his name), making you less sympathetic to an insurance agent or judge.
- “Checking in” or sharing locations in places that appear to contradict your condition, such as an amusement park or beach.
Even if you think your accounts are private, they can often be accessed by someone who is determined to dig up dirt, such as an investigator for an insurance company that does not want to pay up. Even innocent posts—or posts you made before the accident even happened—could be manipulated to work against you.
To Be Safe, Suspend Your Social Media Activity
We advise our clients to suspend social media accounts as we work to settle their car accident claims. This way, there is no risk of making an innocent mistake that is used against them later. If you have questions about what is and isn’t appropriate social media activity following an accident, contact one of our Indianapolis offices today. We are happy to help!
What is the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments?
Nearly 70 percent of initial Social Security disability applications are denied. There are many reasons for these denials—from an improperly filled out form to a missed deadline—but a common reason is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes the determination that you are not actually disabled. The SSA provides various tools to help applicants determine if they meet disability qualifications. One such tool is the Listing of Impairments, also known as the Blue Book.
What Is the SSA's Blue Book?
While the listing is now completely electronic, it was once published annually with a blue cover, giving it its nickname. On the SSA’s website, you will see a listing of 14 categories of disability. Each category provides a detailed explanation of what the SSA considers to be a disabling form of the particular conditions that fall under that category. Currently, the following body systems and functions are listed:
- Musculoskeletal system
- Special senses and speech
- Respiratory disorders
- Cardiovascular system
- Digestive system
- Genitourinary (kidney) disorders
- Hematological disorders
- Skin disorders
- Endocrine disorders
- Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems
- Neurological disorders
- Mental disorders
- Immune system disorders
It is not enough to just have your medical condition listed here; you must also meet the standards of severity, duration, and debilitating effects that are listed in each subsection. For example, the skin disorder psoriasis is listed under section 8.05 Dermatitis, but your psoriasis must produce extensive skin lesions that persist for more than three months despite continuing treatment as prescribed and your symptoms (including pain) must limit your ability to perform work. The Listing of Impairments also provides examples of the kinds of evidence you will be expected to produce in order to prove your disability.
Just as having your condition listed here does not automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), NOT having a condition listed does not automatically disqualify you. If you can prove that your condition—despite not being included in the Listing of Impairments—has the same effect on you as another listing, you can qualify for benefits.
Our SSDI Attorneys Can Help
The SSA’s Listing of Impairments is a detailed, complicated document. It is very difficult for a non-medical person to understand all of the requirements for qualification included here. When you work with one of Keller & Keller’s Social Security disability attorneys, however, you will get the help you need to determine your eligibility and secure the evidence you need so that your application is accepted the first time. Call our Albuquerque office to schedule a free consultation today.
What can I expect at my first meeting with a Social Security disability attorney?
When you first suffered the illness or injury that left you unable to work, you probably thought applying for disability would be a fairly straightforward, do-it-yourself process. However, whether you have been denied or have simply become overwhelmed by the process, you are now considering hiring an attorney to represent you. Many of our disability clients are meeting with a lawyer for the first time in their lives and they are often nervous and unsure. While there is nothing you absolutely have to do before your initial consultation with us—we are happy to explain everything!—we offer this guide to your first meeting to help put your mind at ease.
Your Free Initial Consultation in New Mexico
At Keller & Keller, we offer a free initial consultation to all of our disability clients. In this meeting, we will explain the disability process and ask you a few questions about your situation. It is not necessary that you bring anything with you, but the more prepared you are to answer these questions, the better able we will be to determine your eligibility. You may want to write down what you know about the following:
- Your education, training, and work history, including start and end dates for jobs you have had over the last 10 years
- What you do at your current job, particularly tasks that are physically demanding
- Whether you have paid into Social Security
- Your medical diagnosis
- A list of your current medications, ongoing treatments, and upcoming procedures or surgeries
- The names and addresses of every doctor you have seen since you stopped working
- A description of your physical limitations, including an estimate of how long you are able to sit and stand, how much weight you can lift and carry, and any other activity relevant to your line of work
- A list of questions you have for us—no question is too basic or too complicated!
We realize that this is a lot of information and you may not have easy access to all of it. Again, in our first consultation, it is not necessary to have gathered all of this information before you come, but the more you know about your disability and work history, the better.
What We Will Do for You
If we believe you have a legitimate claim for disability after our initial free consultation, we will schedule another meeting to discuss your claim in more detail. At that point, we will tell you what you need to bring, which will include much of what is listed above. We will need to confirm that you have paid into the system and have enough work credits to qualify. We will also need to make sure that your condition meets the qualifications set forth by the Social Security Administration as a disabling condition. Finally, we will need to prove that the condition makes it impossible for you to continue in your previous position or in a similar position. We will request your medical records and may send you for additional medical testing.
If you have a hearing, our attorney will review the questions you are likely to be asked and make sure you are prepared to answer them. We will gather the medical and vocational evidence needed to support your claim. We likely will not meet with you until four or five weeks before the hearing, but are happy to answer any question you have at any time.
You Will Not Pay Until We Win
We do not require any up-front payment from our disability clients. You will not owe us anything until you are approved for benefits and back pay. We will make sure you understand our fee structure before we take your case so that there are no surprises. If you are facing a Social Security disability application, do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation. We are here for you when you are facing an uphill battle.
Do I need a lawyer for my New Mexico SSDI claim?
You have been working full-time since you were 18 years old. You have had a variety of jobs, but have always worked hard to support yourself and—eventually—your family. Now you find yourself unable to work. Whether it was an illness or an injury that has left you disabled, you are now in need of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits you have paid into virtually your whole life. This should be easy, right? Unfortunately, it is not this straightforward. Nearly 70 percent of first-time applicants are denied SSDI. So what can you do to improve your odds? You might want to start with hiring an experienced SSDI attorney.
What Can Our Attorneys Do for You?
While this is probably your first time dealing with the Social Security Administration (SSA), it is not our first time. This is probably the greatest advantage we can bring to you. We know whether you are qualified for benefits, how the application process works, and what a successful application needs. When you come to us right away, we can potentially save you months of waiting for benefits. Specifically, the SSDI attorneys at Keller & Keller will do the following for you:
- Determine your eligibility. When you schedule a free consultation in our Albuquerque office, we will take a quick look at your medical records and work history to determine if you are indeed eligible for SSDI. Many people apply for disability when they are not eligible, which is a waste of time and effort. If we believe you should qualify based on what we see, we will help you with the next steps.
- Explain your options. Social Security programs can be confusing. We will help you understand all of your options so you can make the best choices moving forward. Depending on your age, number of years in the system, and economic status, you may have some important decisions to make and we will help you with those.
- Prepare paperwork. Many people are denied disability the first time because they do not complete the proper paperwork or they do not correctly fill out the application. We will take care of all paperwork for you, ensuring that it is done right the first time. We will gather the documentation you need to prove your claim and submit a strong application.
- Evaluate your medical records. If you do not have adequate medical records, we will help you get the tests and evaluations you will need to prove your disability. Medical records are the most important part of an SSDI application and we will review them to make sure you have everything you need for a successful application.
- Work with vocational experts and others. Along with physical disability, you will have to show that you are unable to perform work duties or maintain substantial gainful employment. We will have a vocational expert examine your work history, education, and training in order to demonstrate your inability to work given your physical condition. The SSA will also have vocational experts examining your application, so it is important that you prepare by working with one of your own.
- File all necessary legal briefs. We will stay on top of time limits and file all legal papers on your behalf. Should you need to file an appeal, we will be on top of that and make sure everything is in on time.
While your chances of approval are greatly improved by working with our attorneys, if your initial application is denied, we will be ready to start the appeal process immediately.
No Fees Unless You Are Awarded Benefits
SSDI claims are taken on a contingency fee basis. That means that until and unless your application is approved, you do not pay us a dime. The SSA has a cap on legal fees of 25 percent of your past due benefits, up to $6000. The maximums may increase if your case proceeds to the appeals court or federal district court. If you have questions about anything you have read here, feel free to call us to schedule your free consultation. We are happy to help you through this process.
Does new car technology actually keep us safer?
If you have shopped for a new car in the last several years, you may have been overwhelmed by all of the available safety features. You may have wondered when seat belts and airbags were replaced by electronic sensors and cameras as the latest and greatest in car safety. The fact is, cars are safer than ever, but many of the safety features are difficult for some drivers to understand—particularly older drivers—and other features actually distract the driver from the task of driving, creating an additional safety risk. We take a look at important new safety technology and offer advice on using these features effectively.
Best Safety Features
While there are plenty of high-tech safety features available, the features that continue to save the most lives are the tried-and-true mechanical features that have been around for many years: seat belts and airbags. Nothing will protect you more in a collision than these standard features. However, new safety technology focuses on accident prevention. A few of the most effective safety technologies include the following:
- Anti-lock brakes (ABS). Anti-lock brakes have been available on most car models since 2003. They are now standard on all cars. ABS prevent accidents by stopping the wheels from locking up when you are forced to brake suddenly, allowing you to steer away from an obstacle.
- Adaptive cruise control. Drivers love cruise control because it allows them to maintain a consistent speed without having to keep a foot on the accelerator. Adaptive cruise control takes this one step further by using a radar unit to scan the road ahead and automatically slow the car down if it is approaching slower-moving traffic, forcing you to keep a safe following distance.
- Back-up camera and sensors. Many fender-benders and pedestrian accidents happen when a driver is reversing his vehicle. Having a back-up camera and sensors tells you when there is something or someone behind you so you can stop before hitting it.
- Blind-spot and lane-departure warnings. Using radar or cameras, blind-spot monitors let you know when there is a car in your blind spot so that you can safely change lanes. Lane departure warning systems tell you when your car is drifting out of its lane, which may be an indication that you are dozing off or are distracted by something.
All of these features can save lives, but they require an understanding on the part of the driver as to how they work and how to use them properly. Many older drivers have a hard time adapting to the new technology and may actually find that some of these features inhibit safe driving.
Features Older Drivers Struggle With
Many older drivers are thrown for a loop when they shop for a new car. They are often overwhelmed by the infotainment systems, safety warning systems, and Bluetooth options. Instead of embracing the new technology, many seniors opt for as few features as possible on new cars. This is unfortunate, because many of these features are just what older drivers need to keep them safe. Lane-departure and blind-spot warnings, for example, can help drivers suffering with arthritis or poor flexibility identify hazards they would not otherwise see. In fact, AAA recommends certain safety features for older drivers who suffer from particular age-related problems.
The key to the proper use of safety features for all drivers—but particularly for older drivers—is a thorough training session with the car salesman or dealership. Dealers recommend driving the car for a couple of weeks and then, once you have questions, returning to the dealership for a training session on particular features. The National Safety Council has an interactive website, My Car Does What?, to help people understand their vehicle’s features.
Misuse of Safety Features Does Not Protect From Liability
New car technology is obviously there to enhance the driving experience and to keep drivers and others on the road safe. As people are getting used to new features, they may take their eyes off the road or become cognitively distracted and cause an accident. Being confused by safety features is not an excuse for unsafe driving. If you were injured in a crash with someone trying to blame his car’s technology or warning systems for the accident, don’t be fooled. No matter what his excuse is, he is liable for your injuries. Contact one of our Indianapolis offices today to find out what we can do for you after a car accident that wasn’t your fault.
What is Residual Functional Capacity and how does it affect my claim for disability benefits?
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must prove that you have a medically verifiable condition that meets certain requirements for severity and duration. You must also prove that the impairment prevents you from working. In order to determine just what you are physically and mentally capable of doing despite your impairment, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will assess your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). This is an important step in the approval process and you want to make sure you are fairly assessed. Having a New Mexico SSDI attorney by your side will help.
Evidence of Residual Functional Capacity
The SSA will look at a variety of factors to determine your physical and mental abilities. As part of your assessment, they will look at the following pieces of information:
- Applicant’s own medical records
- Report from an SSA consultative medical exam
- Statements about your abilities from other medical sources
- Descriptions and observations of your limitations provided by you, your family, neighbors, friends, or other persons
Gathering much of this information will be up to you. An experienced SSDI attorney will make sure you have complete medical records, all relevant medical tests and examinations, and strong statements from those who know you.
What the SSA Does With This Evidence
Because your ability to perform work duties is not just based on physical ability, it is important that the SSA considers the mental, sensory, and other requirements of work and how your impairment might limit you in those areas. The evaluator will first determine your ability to perform the same job you had before you became disabled. This is known as past relevant work. If they find that you cannot perform your past relevant work, they will use your RFC along with information about your work experience, training, and education to determine whether you can perform any kind of work. At this stage, it is important that you have provided an accurate accounting of your vocational background.
Assessing Your Physical Abilities
In assessing your physical abilities, the SSA must consider all of the possible physical demands of your relevant work. For certain jobs, the ability to sit at a desk is a key physical demand whereas other jobs require heavy lifting. The RFC is comprised of seven exertional activities, broken down into three work positions (sitting, standing, and walking) and four worker movements (lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling). They are also supposed to consider physical functions (such as reaching, handling, stooping, or crouching), that may reduce your ability to do past work and other work. RFC exertional classifications are:
- Very heavy work. This kind of work requires standing or walking for six or more hours and lifting 100 pounds or more.
- Heavy work. This is work that requires standing or walking for six or more hours and lifting weights of no more than 100 pounds.
- Medium work. Jobs that require standing or walking for six or more hours and lifting weight of no more than 50 pounds are considered to require medium levels of exertion.
- Light work. If you are approved for light work, you are expected to be able to stand or walk for six or more hours and lift weights of no more than 20 pounds.
- Sedentary. Sedentary work consists of sitting for six or more hours, standing or walking for no more than two hours and lifting weights of no more than 10 pounds.
An assessment of your exertional classification will be compared to the physical demands of work that you are qualified to perform in order to make a disability determination.
Assessing Your Mental & Other Limitations
Of course, it is possible to be physically able, but to have other impairments that prevent you from working on a regular and continuing basis. If a person suffers emotional trauma or a brain injury, the consequences may be limitations in comprehension, memory, following instructions, and in responding appropriately to supervision, coworkers, and work pressures in a work setting. Some medical impairments, such as skin conditions, epilepsy, and hearing or vision loss may impose limitations and restrictions which affect other work-related abilities. The SSA will assess for these impairments in a manner similar to their assessment for physical limitations. Your RFC will include these mental and sensory limitations.
In New Mexico, Call Keller & Keller for Help With Your SSDI Application
In order to get a fair disability determination, you must have an accurate RFC assessment. With the help of the disability attorneys at Keller & Keller, you can build a strong application which includes all the evidence necessary to prove your need for benefits. Contact us today to find out if we can help.
Will mandatory electronic logging devices on commercial trucks and buses save lives in Indiana?
While the truck and bus industry has had years to prepare for the change, complying with the mandatory use of electronic logging devices this December will still be a major change for many truckers and bus drivers. It may seem like this has nothing to do with you—the average passenger car driver—but, in fact, the law was passed with you in mind. As a more reliable way to enforce truck and bus driver hours of service rules, it should remove more fatigued truckers from the road, protecting you and your family from a potentially fatal run-in with a truck.
What Are Hours of Service Rules?
Designed both to protect drivers from being overworked by their employers and to protect the general public from dangerously fatigued drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) mandates the maximum number of hours drivers can operate their vehicles. These hours of service (HOS) rules apply to drivers of vehicles that meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
- Transports hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
- Carries 9 or more passengers—including the driver—for compensation
In other words, every large commercial truck or passenger vehicle is subject to these limits on the number of hours they can be driven.
Federal HOS rules mandate the following for property-carrying vehicles:
- Drivers may not drive for more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
- Drivers may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.
- Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
For passenger-carrying drivers, the rules are a little more restrictive. Bus drivers are subject to the following HOS rules:
- Drivers may not drive for more than 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty.
- Drivers may not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.
- Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
While these rules may seem complicated to a non-commercial driver, you can be sure that every commercial driver understands what they mean for their driving. When they choose to ignore the rule—whether they are under pressure from an employer or not—they put you and your family at risk. Drivers are required to keep a log book of their on-duty and off-duty hours. They are subject to having their log books inspected by authorities for violations of these rules. However, paper log books are easily faked, leading to far too many fatigued commercial drivers on the road.
Electronic Logging Devices Are Designed to Keep Drivers Honest
Electronic logging devices (ELD) are installed in the vehicle and automatically record driving time by monitoring engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information. ELDs are expected to strengthen compliance with HOS regulations. FMCSA estimates the devices will save at least 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries each year.
While many trucking companies are already using ELDs in their trucks because they make life easier for the driver, not every company has been on board. Beginning on December 18 of 2017, however, every commercial vehicle that is subject to the HOS regulations will be required to install ELDs in all of their vehicles. Not only will these devices save drivers and their employers from mountains of paperwork, they will also save lives.
Truck Crash Attorneys Will Get to the Bottom of Your Accident
Even with ELDs, it is possible for drivers to violate HOS regulations and cause an accident. If you are injured in a collision with a big truck, leave it to the truck accident attorneys and Keller & Keller to investigate and find the cause of the crash. If the truck driver was negligent, we will prove it and make sure you get the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. Call us today with your Indiana truck accident questions.
How do I prove my disability to the Social Security Administration?
To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you will have to meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) standards for disability for your particular condition. The SSA has an extensive list of conditions that may qualify you for disability benefits if your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. Here, we give an overview of what you will have to prove in order to qualify for SSDI.
What Is the Listing of Impairments?
Commonly referred to as the Blue Book, the SSA’s Listing of Impairments is a detailed list of all of the various medical conditions that could result in disability. The impairments are divided into the following categories:
- Musculoskeletal System
- Special Senses and Speech
- Respiratory Disorders
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Genitourinary Disorders
- Hematological Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
- Congenital Disorders That Affect Multiple Body Systems
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
- Immune System Disorders
Within each of these listings is a description of the general category as well as the specific conditions that fall under the category. Also included is a list of the types of documentation required as evidence of the condition such as biopsy results, medical exam reports, and other lab reports. The Blue Book is used as a guide to help determine if particular medical conditions are eligible for SSDI. However, just because your condition is listed in the Blue Book does not mean that you will automatically be approved. Likewise, if your specific impairment is not listed, that does not mean that you will not qualify. The Blue Book is simply a starting point.
Requirements for Qualification
Along with having an identifiable medical condition, you must also show one of the following:
- The condition is expected to result in death.
- The condition has persisted for at least 12 months.
- The condition is expected to persist for a minimum of 12 months.
All applicants must also show that the condition prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful employment. In other words, the condition must be terminal or long-term and must be severe enough to prevent you from working. You will have to provide evidence of both of these factors. The SSA uses the following Five-Step Sequential Evaluation to determine if you have a valid application:
- Can the claimant engage in substantial gainful employment? If the answer is yes, the claimant will not qualify. If the answer is no, the evaluator will move on to the next question.
- Will the impairment last 12 months or result in death? Being medically unable to work for less than 12 months does not qualify you for SSDI. However, if the answer is yes, the severity of the condition is considered.
- Does the impairment meet the severity of a defined medical listing? If the answer is “yes” based on a medical listing in the Blue Book, the claimant will qualify based on medical standards. If the claimant does not meet the requirements of the medical listing, however, the evaluator will determine if he qualifies based on vocational standards.
- Can the claimant perform past relevant work? If the claimant is capable of performing the job he had before the illness or injury, he will not qualify. If he cannot perform the same job he once did, the evaluator will ask if there is other work he can do.
- Can the claimant perform other available work? If there is alternative work the claimant can do to support himself, he will not qualify. However, if there is no other work the claimant can perform, he will be considered disabled according to vocational standards.
Evidence Required to Prove Your Eligibility
At each step of this evaluation, evidence will be needed to support the claim. A doctor’s diagnosis with lab tests and scans to back it up is the minimum evidence you will need. However, your claim has a higher chance of success if your evidence includes the following:
- Recent medical tests. Doctor’s reports and test results should be no older than six months. If your condition is rapidly changing, you will want even more recent reports.
- Accurate records. The SSA will only consider records from acceptable medical sources. If you present records from a chiropractor or other alternative-medicine source that contradict the diagnosis of a doctor, it could call into question the accuracy of your whole claim.
- Complete records. Do you have lab tests or scans to back up every claim you are making? When the Listing of Impairments lists specific documents that are required for your illness, you must provide all of those documents.
- Detailed reports. In order to prove eligibility based on vocational standards, you will need to present a detailed list of the tasks required by the jobs for which you are qualified and a complete list of your limitations—supported with medical evidence—that prevent you from performing those tasks.
The majority of SSDI claims are denied the first time. When you work with a New Mexico SSDI attorney, however, your odds are greatly approved. Call Keller & Keller to find out how we can help you submit a complete and accurate application the first time.
What can I do to help my car accident attorney with my case?
You have made the wise decision to hire an attorney to represent you in your car accident claim, but what should you do now? The simple answer is this: follow all of your attorney’s instructions and do not do anything that could jeopardize your claim. What does that mean? Find out here.
What You Can Do to Help Your Car Accident Attorney
In your first consultation with your lawyer, he will tell you what he needs you to do. Be sure to listen carefully and following his instructions. In general, he may ask you to do the following:
- See a doctor as soon as possible to be assessed for injuries.
- Follow all of your doctor’s orders and make every effort to recover from your injuries.
- Refer all inquiries about the accident from any insurance company to his office.
- Do not give a recorded statement about the accident to anyone.
- Do not sign any documents related to the case without your lawyer’s permission.
- Send copies of all bills related to the accident to your attorney, even if your insurance company has paid them.
- Notify your attorney immediately when you have been released from medical care and have returned to work.
- Do not post anything related to your car accident to social media.
- Return all phone calls from your attorney promptly.
Remember, your attorney will not be able to help you if you do not first help yourself. If the attorney or insurance adjuster for the other driver finds evidence that you are not as injured as you claim to be, he will use this to lower his settlement offer. For example, posting vacation pictures of you water skiing when you have requested damages for a back injury is going to seriously jeopardize your claim.
Keller & Keller Will Steer You in the Right Direction
At Keller & Keller, we will not take your case if we don’t believe we can help you get a significant settlement, but we will only be successful if you follow our instructions and help yourself. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more about working with an attorney on a car accident claim in Indiana.
Do I need to hire an attorney for my Indiana car accident claim?
Some car accident claims are straightforward and settle quickly. If you suffered minor injuries and some property damage in a crash that was determined to be 100 percent the fault of the other driver, his insurance company will likely settle your claim to your satisfaction within a few weeks. However, if there are any complicating factors, you will want to consider hiring an attorney to represent you.
Factors That Complicate a Car Accident Settlement
While many claims are settled easily without the need for a lawyer, you could greatly benefit from hiring a car accident attorney in certain situations. If any of the following circumstances exist, you will want to call a lawyer:
- Dispute over fault. If you are certain you played no part in the cause of the accident, but the other party is claiming you did, an attorney can help you make your case. Under Indiana’s comparative fault law, if you are determined to share in the fault, you will lose damages proportionate to your degree of fault. If you are found to be 51 percent or more at fault, you cannot claim any damages from the other party. An attorney can gather the evidence needed to support your claim.
- Serious injury. If you suffered a catastrophic injury in a car accident, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, or multiple broken bones, you need an attorney who is skilled at calculating the ongoing and future costs of your care.
- Semi-truck involvement. When your crash involves a commercial truck, such as a semi-truck, legal issues become much more complicated. There could be multiple liable parties and the potential settlement could be over $1 million. An experienced truck accident attorney will know how to handle such a case.
- Fatality. If an occupant of your car was killed in a crash, you should call an attorney immediately. A fatality complicates a claim in many ways and you want to leave the negotiations up to a legal professional. Likewise, if you lost a loved one in a car accident in which you were not involved, an attorney can help you sort through the legal process.
When to Call Keller & Keller
The sooner you call an attorney after your car accident, the better. A lawyer will make sure all evidence is preserved and that you do not agree to an offer that is less than what you deserve. Keller & Keller does not charge a fee until we win your case, so you have nothing to lose. Call us today to discuss your recent car accident.
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"At every juncture of the process... everyone involved, were more than thorough. I never had any questions. It was just matter of fact, straight to the point, and taken care of."by Jill S.