Information for injured persons and Social Security disability claimants in Texas and throughout the United States. By Robert A. Kraft
About My Blog
The purpose of this blog is to provide information to people who have been injured due to negligence, and to those who have filed for Social Security disability benefits, or who are considering filing for Social Security disability benefits.
Our Dallas, Texas personal injury and Social Security disability lawyers want to help. To find answers to your questions, please use the Google search box or the Categories list below. If you still don't find what you need, just send an e-mail to me at email@example.com and I'll get right back to you.
Beginning today I am discontinuing this blog, after seven years — since April 2005. I started another injury blog at about the same time, and my original plan was to discuss different topics on the two blogs. Over time, the content became largely duplicated, and that just made no sense.
So as of today I will be posting only at my Personal Injury, Social Security Disability (abbreviation — PISSD) blog.
Please go to P.I.S.S.D. and join the conversation.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) gave some good news to disability claimants suffering from fibromyalgia recently. This explanation is from the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives:
SSA has issued a Social Security Ruling (SSR) on the evaluation of fibromyalgia in disability claims. SSR 12-2p is effective July 25, 2012. 77 Fed. Reg. 43640 (July 25, 2012). This ruling states that fibromyalgia is a medically determinable impairment when it is established by appropriate medical evidence and that it can be the basis for a finding of disability. A claimant who alleges disability based on fibromyalgia must have a diagnosis by a licensed physician (medical or osteopathic doctor) and evidence of the criteria from either "the 1990 American College of Rheumatology Criteria for the Classification of Fibromyalgia" or "the 2010 American College of Rheumatology Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria."
SSA may consider additional medical evidence pursuant to SSR 06-3p. Recognizing that the symptoms and signs of fibromyalgia may vary in severity over time and may even be absent on some days, SSA will also make a longitudinal review of the doctor's treatment notes and the claimant's symptoms. Once it is established that a claimant has a medically determinable impairment of fibromyalgia, SSA will consider it in the regular sequential evaluation process to determine whether the person is disabled. Additional details about SSR 12-2p will be provided in the July 2012 NOSSCR Forum.
Final Rule Allows SSA to Skip Step 4 If "Insufficient Evidence" of Past Work
SSA has issued a final rule that gives adjudicators the discretion to skip step 4 in cases where they have "insufficient evidence" to make past relevant work (PRW) findings. 77 Fed. Reg. 43492 (July 25, 2012). The changes are effective August 24, 2012.
The "Expedited Vocational Assessment" will work as follows: If the adjudicator does "not have sufficient evidence about your past relevant work to make a finding at the fourth step, we may proceed to the fifth step of the sequential evaluation process." The adjudicator has the discretion to make the decision whether to use the proposed expedited process, i.e., deciding whether "sufficient evidence" regarding PRW exists. SSA will "not require an adjudicator to make a reasonable effort to collect additional evidence [re PRW] if he or she could use this expedited process."
Road accidents are commonplace in the United States and the constant technological advancements have proven to be insufficient in reducing the death toll over the years. If you too have been involved in an accident, it’s important to hire a car accident attorney to assist you with recovering compensation and reduce the substantial amount of paperwork, and stress related to insurance claims. Knowing when to get in touch with an expert can make the difference between success and failure.
What Should You Look For In a Car Accident Lawyer?
Lawyers who deal with car accidents cover a variety of cases pertaining to personal injury, property destruction, wrongful death, and liability. When you look for an accident lawyer in Anchorage, for example, you must make your decision based on factors such as experience, commitment, skill level, fee structure, and location.
For instance, the attorney must be well versed in national and state transportation laws, should know how to handle health and insurance care companies, and must know how to settle and prepare for a case effectively. Apart from this, it is also essential that you check the background and track record of the lawyer.
When Should You Contact an Accident Lawyer?
It is advisable to get in touch with a lawyer as early as possible to avoid any mistakes. The deadline to file personal injury claims differs from state to state. As you will need to cover lost wages and pay medical bills, the sooner you hire a legal expert the better. Generally, a person must contact an attorney within couple of weeks after the accident takes place. Also, never reach a settlement with an insurance company without a lawyer supporting you.
Questions You Must Ask a Car Accident Lawyer
Before talking to a lawyer, gather as much information and facts about the injuries, financial losses, and accident as possible. Details should be shared with your attorney after an accident including the information exchanged at the accident scene, your insurance policy, medical records, and the like.
It is wise to consult a reputable car accidents attorney Alaskaor firm in your area that can represent your case and help you get full compensation. One of the firms in Alaska that offers such services is Pentlarge Law Group. The attorneys have the expertise and knowledge to handle the most complicated cases. They can be contacted at (907) 276 1919 or http://www.pentlargelaw.com.
Gene Maryushenko of the Los Angeles injury firm Fisher & Talwar is becoming a regular contributor here. This is his latest article:
When I read Bob’s post on new safety standards for urban transit systems, I thought – well, great! Finally, some sort of federal regulation will exist to enforce the most basic safety oversight. In a nation as large and developed as ours it’s amazing that there are no official safety guidelines in place. It took a tragic accident that killed 9 people on a Metro line to finally push for a safety bill. I even started thinking about how some day we might have seat belts on a train – after all cars have them, so why shouldn’t trains? It didn’t quite click in my mind that my way of thinking about this issue was completely wrong.
Later that evening, on my commute home I tuned in to a radio station that was running a program on how the Bus Riders Union is planning to protest cutbacks of over a million hours of bus services in L.A. Listening to the program made me stop and think – if the government is willing to throw (insufficient) funds at safety programs for railroads, why wouldn’t it just restore service for buses instead? After all, thousands of people rely on bus services who otherwise have no access to trains.
At that time I also remembered what I’ve read about the safety bill:
“Among other things, the NTSB will push for minimum crashworthiness standards for subway cars, a requirement that subways carry data recorders and limits on the number of hours that train conductors can work.”
Minimum crashworthiness standards? Why wouldn’t we focus on eliminating crashes entirely? If we look at the history of train accidents in the United States, most if not all were caused by human error. Here I am thinking about which seat is the safest on a train and contemplating seatbelt use while completely ignoring the obvious – eliminate the issue of train crashes entirely. Why dedicate funds to establish “better evacuation and rescue plans” instead of focusing on completely eradicating the safety problem?
During several trips to Japan I couldn’t help but marvel at their transportation system, how efficient, punctual and safe the trains ran. Any country in the world would be envious to have a similar safety record as that of the Japanese rail system. Sure they’ve had a few snags along the way but if we compared the number of hours to the number of accidents – the record is nearly immaculate.
It turns out the Japanese rail system uses an automated safety mechanism known as Positive Train Control (PTC) – a GPS based system that allows for automatic monitoring and reaction to railway, weather and traffic conditions. According to gps.gov, “A PTC system can automatically vary train speeds, re-route traffic, and safely direct maintenance crews onto and off tracks.” It also turns out United States has a federal mandate to make commuter railroads implement this system by 2015!
Reading about the PTC system plan lead me conclude that safety bills should instead direct the funds to bus system development or at the very last resort to accelerate the implementation of the GPS-based system (to avoid passing the cost to the passengers.) I would personally complain about the cost of some rail passes as I purchase them month to month, but after hearing about the bus issues I would rather see the government direct funds to maintaining and expanding the bus fleet around the populous cities in the United States.
With the ever-increasing urbanization of our cities as the world population grows, it will be important for our country to bring our infrastructure up to date. Even though trains are useful to the masses of suburbs, we can’t ignore the fact that it is impossible to connect all of the cities with rail systems alone. Buses can and already have been solving our commuting problems for years and should be expanded heavily, or at the very least maintained.
Lastly, this morning I took my own advice and sat in my “preferred” seat only to feel awkwardly uncomfortable and moving to another front-facing seat with plenty of leg room. There is no doubt I would bounce around like a lottery ball in an event of an accident, but let’s face it – there are bigger problems to worry about, AND not to mention the Positive Train Control system is coming to my line sometime next year!
If you or someone in your family has been injured by using a product, your first concern is recovering from your injuries. But if you have bills to pay, or if you miss time from work, you may also have financial concerns. In fact, you may be able to recover the costs of your medical treatment or missed work time, or even a larger amount of money. The key is to properly establish your claim, and to act quickly.
If you can demonstrate that the product manufacturer did not exercise what the law calls “reasonable care” in manufacturing the product that injured you, you may have grounds for claiming negligence. For instance, if you fall off your treadmill because the belt didn’t stop moving when you turned the machine off, and break your ankle as a result, you may be able to make a claim that the treadmill manufacturer was negligent.
Strict liability is related to negligence. However, strict liability implies that the product itself is dangerous, rather than claiming that the manufacturer or merchant was negligent. In strict liability cases, you may be able to collect damages even if there is some evidence that the product was not used exactly the way the manufacturer intended.
In making a case for strict liability, you must prove 1) that the item was defective, 2) the defect of the product was responsible for your injury and 3) that the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous. For instance, if your child’s doll had small glass eyes with sharp edges that were easily detached, and your child swallowed them, you may be able to claim that the doll’s manufacturer holds strict liability for your child’s injuries. This is true even if your child tore the doll’s eyes off herself.
Breach of Warranty
Breach of warranty involves broken promises or claims made by companies. As long as you operate the product within the terms of the warranty, the product manufacturer or merchant is responsible for standing by that product. For instance, if your car’s brakes malfunction during the automobile manufacturer’s warranty period, you may be able to make a case for breach of warranty. However, if you were drag racing the car, that might void your claim for breach of warranty.
Misrepresentation involves false claims made by a merchant or manufacturer. Misrepresentation differs from advertising – you would have a hard time enforcing a toothpaste manufacturer’s claim that using the product would enhance your chances of romantic success. However, if the same toothpaste manufacturer claimed that the product would prevent cavities, you may be able to make a case for misrepresentation if you developed new cavities after using the toothpaste.
What to Do
If you have been injured by a product, you must hold on to the product. If you don’t have the defective product in your possession, proving your case will be very difficult, if not impossible. You should also take notes to document what happened, as well as keeping a log of lost wages as a result of missing work. Take photos of the defective product and of your injuries if possible. Keep copies of any hospital or doctor’s bills. Your attorney will want this documentation to help you make your case.
Guest post was contributed by Max Cooper on behalf of Injury-Settlement-Guide.com – Max is a freelance writer and has worked for various legal firms throughout his career. For more information on product liability lawsuits visit the website.
The arguments and concerns about the chemical referred to as BPA have been swirling for years. Now finally this month the Food and Drug Administration has declared that the chemical can no longer be used in baby bottles or cups. Here are excerpts from an article in the New York Times:
The Food and Drug Administration said that baby bottles and children’s drinking cups could no longer contain bisphenol A, or BPA, an estrogen-mimicking industrial chemical used in some plastic bottles and food packaging.
Manufacturers have already stopped using the chemical in baby bottles and sippy cups, and the F.D.A. said that its decision was a response to a request by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association, that rules allowing BPA in those products be phased out, in part to boost consumer confidence.
But the new prohibition does not apply more broadly to the use of BPA in other containers, said an F.D.A. spokesman, Steven Immergut. He said the decision did not amount to a reversal of the agency’s position on the chemical. The F.D.A. declared BPA safe in 2008, but began expressing concerns about possible health risks in 2010.
Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the agency, said the decision simply codified what the industry was already doing based on the preference of consumers and did not reflect concerns about the safety of BPA in baby bottles or toddler’s cups
The decision “solidifies legally that the use will not happen again in the future” in baby bottles and cups for toddlers, he said. He added that the agency “has been looking hard at BPA for a long time, and based on all the evidence, we continue to support its safe use.”
BPA has been used since the 1960s to make hard plastic bottles, cups for toddlers and the linings of food and beverage cans, including those that hold infant formula and soda. Until recently, it was used in baby bottles, but major manufacturers are now making bottles without it. Plastic items containing BPA are generally marked with a 7 on the bottom for recycling purposes.
The chemical can leach into food, and a study of over 2,000 people found that more than 90 percent of them had BPA in their urine. Traces have also been found in breast milk, the blood of pregnant women and umbilical cord blood.
Reports of potentially negative health effects have made BPA notorious, especially among parents, and led to widespread shunning of products thought to contain the chemical. Canada, Chicago and Suffolk County, N.Y., have banned BPA from children’s products. In 2010, the F.D.A. said that it had “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.”
The American Chemistry Council said in a statement that it had asked the F.D.A. to take action because of confusion, stirred by state legislative and regulatory actions, about whether baby bottles and cups for toddlers contain BPA. It said that manufacturers announced years ago that they had stopped using the chemical in those items.
Public health advocates praised the agency’s decision, but said the chemical still presented a health risk.
“The F.D.A. is slowly making progress on this issue, but they are doing the bare minimum here,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families. “They are instituting a ban that is already in effect voluntarily.”
Some advocates also pointed out that the decision did not include BPA used in containers of baby formula. Dennis M. Keefe, director of the office of food additive safety at the F.D.A., said that a decision on the chemical’s use in such products was under review.
This summer has been so dry that our yards aren't growing as fast as normal. Still, they have to be mowed from time to time. In the old days, with manual mowers, safety was not a big issue. But with more and more powerful gas or electric mowers, there is a real chance of injury if certain precautions aren't taken. The Web site GrassTools.com not only has good tips for proper mowing techniques, but also has a page of safety precautions. Here are some of the most important ones:
Mowing the lawn can be a dangerous activity. Just look at the statistics. Each year there are more than a hundred thousand injuries due to lawn mowing. Mowing can be a safe activity – even a common activity if the following precautions are taken.
Wear protective gear at all times, especially on the feet. Most injuries with lawn mowers occur to the feet while they are not protected.
Do not mow up hills as the mower may roll backwards and create injury for the operator. Always mow across hills to ensure injuries are avoided.
Have the blade sharpened by professionals – if you choose to sharpen the blade yourself it is important to wear protective gloves while sharpening and use short strokes while filing the blades.
Never refuel a running mower. This is dangerous. Gas is flammable and should not be heated and added to a running engine.
Never leave a mower running while unattended. It is important especially with a self propelled lawn mower.
Ensure that electric mowers have no frayed cords. Frayed cords could cause shock, or severe burns. It is important to be careful when running an electric mower to not run over the cord.
Be sure to store fuel in recommended and approved containers to prevent fire hazards.
Be sure to inspect the lawn mower before each use for safety, vibration, and loose bolts. It is important to check the hardware of the mower, as well as any and all wires attached.
Use a mower with a locking mechanism in case the mower gets away from the operator.
Remove all objects and debris from grass to ensure that flying debris doesn’t get thrown up to hit the operator.
Always turn off the mower and await the cessation of the blades before traveling over any surface other than grass.
Do not allow children to operate a lawn mower.
Do not allow children to be passengers on ride-on lawn mowers. The child could easily fall and be run over by the mower.
Mowers should be refuelled and started outdoors. Gas is a very flammable substance and should be stored in proper containers and fuel never added to a recently running lawnmower. Always ensure that gas is added to a cool lawnmower – to avoid the risk of fire.
Prior to attempting the sharpening of mower blades the lawn mower should be in the off position and the spark plug should be removed. Once the spark plug is removed the power source to the mower is disconnected. There is no chance of the mower accidentally starting in this case.
Never mow in reverse, there is a chance that the mower could back onto your limbs causing bodily harm.
Never ride a ride-on mower up a slope. This could result in the operator falling from the mower and causing grave injury. Riding mowers are at high risk to roll if driven at high speeds or on rough terrain.
Always read the operating manual before performing any landscaping activities.