How do I Manage a Personal Injury Settlement for a Disabled Child?

Many children with disabilities rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits to provide for their everyday health care and basic necessities.  But these benefits are means-tested – that is, a child only qualifies if he or she has limited assets and income.

So what happens when your disabled son or daughter suffers a personal injury and receives a financial settlement?   That personal injury settlement can make life much easier for you and your child, but it can also cause devastating problems if it disqualifies your child from government benefits.

Without careful planning by an experienced special needs attorney, your child’s benefits may be in jeopardy.  At their core, government programs cover only life’s basic necessities.  But they don’t provide long-term financial security, so you must strike a balance between continuing to receive government benefits and accepting a personal injury settlement.

That balance involves three main options:  (1) give up your child’s government SSI and Medicaid benefits; (2) legally “spend down” the financial award; or (3) set up what is commonly called a “special needs trust” for the benefit of your child.

Of course, the first option – giving up your child’s benefits – is not ideal.  This is especially true if your child has significant medical expenses that are covered by Medicaid.  That leaves either spending down the financial award or making use of a special needs trust.

The concept of spending down assets is simple.  You accept the financial award, put it in the bank, and then spend it on expenses or assets that are allowed.  For example, you can spend money on additional medical expenses not covered by Medicaid, or on education, personal property (clothes, medical equipment, cell phone, computer, iPad, etc.), or even on a specially made vehicle to allow your child’s transportation.  Depending on your child’s age and abilities, you may even consider purchasing a home for your child.  Spending down is usually best suited to situations where your child has received a smaller personal injury settlement or award, because it is generally difficult to spend down significant amounts in a short period of time.

The final option is a special needs trust.  A special needs trust is a discretionary trust set up specifically for the benefit of a disabled person. This is a type of trust that supplements government benefits, and therefore it is also referred to as a “supplemental needs trust.” Special needs trusts may provide money for nearly any cost beyond food, shelter, clothing, and health care without affecting disability programs or government benefits. Some of the things that special needs trusts pay for include internet, furniture, education, transportation, and even vacations.  There are different types of special needs trusts, with the most common being a stand-alone special needs trust and a pooled special needs trust.

A stand-alone trust has one beneficiary while a pooled trust has many beneficiaries’ assets pooled together.  Special needs trusts are not “one-size-fits-all”.  Each type of trust has its own advantages and disadvantages, but in each case when a beneficiary dies the trust must repay Medicaid before anything may be distributed to the remainder beneficiaries.

Receiving a personal injury settlement can be an important occasion in your child’s life.  With the help of a Michigan special needs attorney you will be able to decide the best way to handle that settlement and maintain the government programs that are critical to your child’s growth and well-being.

Glenn R. MatecunThanks to our friends and contributors from Glenn R. Matecun for their insight into special needs trusts after personal injury settlement.

The Importance of Taking Photos After an Accident

Being involved in an auto accident can be a traumatic event. You may find your ability to think rationally clouded with adrenaline and emotion. What do you do?
There are obvious and important courses of action to take:
1.     Call the police
2.     Tend to the injured parties
3.     Gather insurance information
Then, the most important thing is to take photos of the scene of the accident.  This easily overlooked step can make a huge difference in dealing with insurance companies and lawsuits.
Here’s the Why, the How, and the What of taking photos after an accident:
The Why
  • Photos can help reconstruct the cause and scene of an accident.
  • Photos can help establish liability in both property damage and personal injury cases.
  • Photos can help the insurance companies and a car accident lawyer Phoenix AZ relies on to build your case. They eliminate guess work and establish facts.
  • Memories and verbal testimonies become fuzzy and change over time. Photos capture details that may be easily forgotten.
  • DON’T rely on law enforcement to take photos on your behalf, they are doing so for their report, not for your claim.
The How
  • Use a digital camera. Most cell phones today take clear photos.
  • Take too many photos. Not all photos will turn out, you want to have options.
  • In focus. Take the time to make sure the shots are in focus.
  • Photograph both wide shots and close-ups.
  • Engage your camera’s time stamp. Or take a photo of something that indicates date and time, like a bank sign.
  • Print physical copies. Keep a digital backup of all photos.
The What
  • Wide, general shots of the scene. Include all vehicles involved.
  • Weather conditions. Include location of sun or moon.
  • Road signs and traffic signals.
  • All four corners of the vehicles
  • Include the license plate in as many shots as possible.
  • Interiors of the vehicles
  • Close-ups of all damage
  • Skid marks
  • Debris, such as broken glass and detached car parts.
  • All people on the scene. This includes police officers, paramedics, other drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
  • Injuries. Both major and minor. Both yours and others.
  • Latent injuries. Bruises and swelling might not occur until days after the accident.
Documenting and organizing photographic evidence of an auto accident can help you build a strong case and ensure that you and your loved ones are justly compensated for damages and injuries.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, whether you have photos or not, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into the importance of taking photos at an accident and car accident cases.

What Are Expressed or Implied Warranties?

Almost every product that can be purchased in America comes with some form of warranty which guarantees quality, even if it is not stated on the product. Warranties allow for consumers to purchase products with confidence that it will function as it is meant to and hold companies to the standards of quality they advertise. There are two types of warranties: expressed and implied.

Expressed warranties are those that the manufacturer clearly states. These typed warranties may be printed on the product, explained in a pamphlet included within the packaging, or expressed by the sales professionals from whom you buy the product. Either way, an expressed warranty is a guarantee that a product will perform at an expected level of quality. Part of this guarantee is a promise that the manufacturer will fix or replace the product if it fails to meet this expectation. Expressed warranties are a contract between the manufacturer and the consumer, and can be enforced through the law if need be.

It is worth noting that warranties which were merely verbally expressed by sales professionals can be much harder to prove and enforce. When there is no written agreement, it can be very hard to pin down what exactly the agreement was, and this gives both the manufacture and the consumer room to abuse the terms. If possible, try to get such warranties in writing before purchasing the product.

An implied warranty is based on the expectation that a product will perform as marketed, and will not pose a danger to the consumer. If the product fails to function as it is meant to, or proves to be dangerous, then the manufacturer would be in breach of the implied warranty. However, having a product repaired or replaced under its’ implied warranty can prove much more difficult. Implied warranties may require the help of a skilled product liability attorney, who can negotiate on the behalf of the consumer and ensure that the manufacturer repairs the product properly as required by law.

If a defective product causes injury, contact an experienced attorney who will be able to analyze the implied or express warranty for that product. A top personal injury attorney Atlanta GA has to offer is often more able to determine the difference between the two types of warranties and possible breach of warranty causing product liability. If the attorney finds that there is a breach of warranty, then that warranty may be used in a product liability lawsuit. Regardless of whether a manufacturer was aware that they created a dangerous product, if they failed to warn the public properly and distributed a product with manufacturing errors, they can be held liable for any injuries or deaths that result from it.

 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their contribution on product liability law.

Back Injuries Resulting in Personal Injury Cases

Back injuries are very common injuries that can result from slip and fall accidents. These injuries can range from mild to severe — in some cases, one quick fall could even result in a debilitating injury. If you’ve suffered a head, neck, or back injury from a slip and fall accident, it’s important to have your injury examined by a trained medical professional like a chiropractor Gaithersburg MD relies on as soon as possible. Milder injuries may heal on their own, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to back-related injuries.

 

In addition to seeking medical treatment, there are some steps you can take if you believe you have a personal injury claim:

 

  1. Document What Happened

Small details can make a big difference when it comes to proving liability after an accident. If you are physically able to do so, take pictures of the accident scene and of your injuries. Keeping a short journal of the accident can also be helpful; you’d be surprised by how quickly memories can fade. You can also reach out to the property owner and alert them of your injury.

 

  1. Save Evidence from Medical Exams

When you seek medical attention for your injury, be sure to save extra copies of any documents related to your treatment. This may include receipts from doctors’ visits, copies of x-ray scans, or notes about any medications you have been prescribed. This information can be very important in a personal injury claim because it provides direct evidence that you were injured.

 

  1. Contact a Slip and Fall Lawyer

You may have grounds for a personal injury claim if your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. Speaking with a lawyer may help you determine if you have a valid claim. The majority of personal injury lawyers offer free case evaluations where you can meet with an attorney and discuss the details of your case in person.

 

A personal injury lawyer Memphis TN trusts can help you file a claim if your situation warrants it. In most cases, these claims will be filed with the insurance carrier of the property owner. Building a strong case with concrete evidence is one of the best ways to make sure that a valid claim isn’t denied by the insurer. If the claim is denied, or if the insurer offers a settlement amount that is far lower than what is deserved, you may be able to take your case to court.

 

 

Experiencing a slip and fall accident can be a traumatic and painful experience. Call a lawyer to receive the compensation you deserve.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Pain & Arthritis Relief Center for their insight into back injuries resulting from slip and falls.

Attractive Nuisance

Children get into trouble. This is a universal law, as curious minds combined with lack of experience can lead young ones to go where they shouldn’t and do things they aren’t supposed to. Because of this, the law holds the doctrine of attractive nuisance. This legal doctrine is a form of premises liability, and states that the owner of a potentially dangerous property can be held accountable for any injuries to sustained by a trespassing child, if those injuries are caused by a hazardous objects or condition that might be likely to attract children.

Simply put, an attractive nuisance is a structure or condition of property that is both hazardous and hard for a child to resist. These structures or conditions must be man-made and include abandoned properties, such as vehicles, appliances, or buildings. Some common examples of attractive nuisances include swimming pools, abandoned houses, and constructions sites or equipment.

Though the specific standards to prove an attractive nuisance case vary from state to state, generally speaking a plaintiff must show:

  • The landowner should have been reasonably aware that children are likely to trespass on his or her property.
  • The landowner was aware or had reason to be aware that there existed on the property a risk of death or serious bodily harm to children.
  • The children would not be able to understand or comprehend the risk presented by the dangerous condition.
  • The benefit of maintaining the condition or the cost required to eliminate the condition is minor compared to the potential risk to children.
  • The landowner failed to exercise reasonable care to maintain safe conditions on his or her property.

In many cases, putting up a sign to keep out or warning of potential dangers on the property is sufficient, but often a more proactive approach can be required. When determining an attractive nuisance case, the court will take into consideration the age and intellectual ability of the injured child.

In order to protect themselves from an attractive nuisance lawsuit, property owners should assess if a property is likely to pose a threat to children, determine if children are likely to trespass, and take steps to either eliminate any dangerous conditions or restricting access so that no children will be able to trespass on the property in the first place.

For specific laws and help with an attractive nuisance case, contact an experienced premises liability and property lawyer Decatur GA trusts.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into attractive nuisance.

3 Types of Common Personal Injury Cases

Car Crashes

This is the most common type of personal injury cases. We spend a lot of time in our cars, and people are not always careful drivers. Phone calls, texts, Facebook, or Google maps can distract drivers. And distracted drivers cause accidents. In addition, cars are dangerous objects. They are heavy so they carry a lot of momentum. Human bodies, on the other hand, are relatively soft and fragile. That means when cars collide, the passengers suffer the consequences. Car accident cases often require an in depth knowledge of your state’s insurance laws. Who is responsible, which insurance coverage apply, and who has to be paid back out any settlement are all questions that come up in all car crash cases. If you’ve been injured, you need a car accident lawyer relies on who understands the law. That way you can get the most compensation you are entitled to.

Slip and Falls

Whether on unmarked spills at retail stores or on snow and ice on sidewalks, falling can seriously injure you. In most states, landowners have a duty to keep their premises safe for visitors. This is particularly true for visitors who are paying to be there. When landowners fail to reasonably maintain their land, injuries can happen, and the landowner should compensate the injured person. That means paying for the person’s medical bills, his or her lost earnings, and the pain and suffering the person experienced. These cases can be difficult as people also have a duty to keep themselves safe and watch where they’re going. But with an experienced slip and fall lawyer on your side, it’s possible to achieve a good result.

Dog Bites

We all love our dogs. Unfortunately, that can blind some owners to the danger presented by their pets. Dog owners have a duty to keep the public safe from aggressive dogs. This is usually fairly simple: keep your dog on a leash in town, train it to be comfortable with strangers, and socialize it with other dogs. But not everyone follows this simple advice. And when dogs get out of control, injuries can happen. Dog bites often require emergency medical attention. That means medical bills. Dog owners who fail to control their dogs should foot those bills, not the person who is injured by the out-of-control dog. Many personal injury lawyers are experienced dealing with dog bite cases, and most offer free consultations. So you have nothing to lose talking to one to see if you have a case.

Top Six Reasons for Surgical Malpractice

While there are many types of surgical errors, there are some common ones that if you are getting prepared to undergo surgery may be able to be avoided. Perhaps you’ve heard that patients often write on their body parts that will be involved in the procedure, “This one,” or on the other side, “Wrong side.” This may seem overly cautious, but after learning Web MD reported there were at least 4,000 complaints about surgical mistakes annually. That large number does not even include mistakes that may go unreported because they weren’t discovered immediately. Though we place a lot of trust in doctors and their staff, the reality is that they are still humans and mistakes during surgery do occur frequently.

Here are the top six most common surgical errors:

  1. Foreign objects left in the body, such as a staple, forcep, or surgical sponge leading to infection or other complication.
  2. Operating on the wrong body part or the wrong patient
  3. Anesthesia or medication errors such as giving a dose too weak or strong or one patient has a known allergy or adverse reaction to.
  4. Poor hygiene leading to infections.
  5. Untreated complications from surgery, such as blood clots. Often these are preventable. Ask your practitioner if they can prescribe a drug like Coumadin to prevent these.
  6. Misdiagnosis is another common error. Often in this instance, surgery was not necessary to begin with. While there are systems in place to try to prevent these things from happening, such as checklists to keep track of the number of sponges and instruments used, errors still occur. There have been efforts to technologically improve these methods, by using sponges that can be detected by a scanner, for example, but this doesn’t have widespread use yet.

While the responsibility to correctly perform a surgery lies in the hands of the surgeons themselves, you can take measures to protect yourself as well. When a surgery is first recommended, make sure you get as much detail about your condition as possible. Ask your doctor about every possible treatment, as well as not receiving the procedure. Some patients chose to get a second opinion from a doctor who is not a surgeon.

If surgery is the best option and/or you decide surgery is the course of action you want to take, ask your doctor about the risks of an operation, the safety measures that will be used to protect you from surgical error, and any other questions you have. Do not feel awkward or impolite to be asking these types of questions of the doctor. You have every right to understand what will be done during the operation, and it’s important to make sure they have procedures for preventing incidents like the errors listed above. In the medical field, this is known as Informed Consent.

If you had a surgical complication and your doctor did not do this before the surgery, it is important to mention that fact to a medical malpractice lawyer Naperville IL relies on.

If you undergo surgery and believe an error or complication occurred, talk to your doctor right away. Doctors will almost always be able to bring you back in to fix the error or find another solution for you. This may even be free of charge, depending on the situation. Surgical error can lead to serious injury or health issues, so do not hesitate if you believe an error occurred.

A medical malpractice claim may be an option for you as well. To do this, you usually need to have a medical assessment completed by another physician to examine your condition and figure out whether the error was due to the negligence of your other doctor/surgeon. If you plan to file a claim, a medical malpractice attorney can be extremely beneficial. It is not easy to prove fault for medical malpractice and the process can get confusing as it involves trying to interpret a lot of medical jargon.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into medical malpractice suits.

Wrongful Death Suits: What to Look for in a Lawyer

Losing someone you love is painful. When you lose someone because of another person’s negligence, incompetence, greed or malice, the pain is even more hurtful. You may deal with emotions that fluctuate between sadness at the loss and wanting revenge against those responsible.

The reason for your loved one’s death could have been a medical error, a car accident, physical assault, or something else. It is important to know that you do not have to passively accept what happened and hope things get better. As your loved one’s survivor, you may have legal recourse against the person responsible for their death.

Although money will not bring your loved one back, it is often necessary to help you and your family move forward. Before you decide to file a wrongful death suit, you want to have confidence in the lawyer you choose to represent your case. Here are five things to look for when choosing the right personal injury lawyer Milwaukee WI trusts.

1. Honed Experience

Experience is important when choosing a lawyer, but it is essential that his or her experience match what you need. Practicing law for 30 years is not an automatic guarantee that the lawyer is qualified for your particular case.

This means you want a lawyer who has dedicated his or her career to the specific law related to your type of wrongful death case. For instance, a medical malpractice lawyer specializes in injuries and deaths resulting from a doctor’s negligence.

Determine the lawyer’s qualifications by:

  • Reading the firm’s website information about their experience and law practice
  • Asking about cases similar to yours and the outcome
  • Requesting referrals from the lawyer’s previous clients

2. Legal Strategy

The law can be a very complicated thing with many issues litigated inside and outside the courtroom. Legal skill and strategy matters, so you want to know if there is any real value in your case. With that understanding, it is also important to know what could increase or decrease the value.

  • A lawyer should know the legal arguments that will be made, particularly to reduce the likelihood that your case will be dismissed.
  • Another key strategy is whether there is more than one person or entity potentially responsible for your loved one’s death.
  • If this will be a multi-party lawsuit, confirm that the attorney has successfully won such cases as they can be especially complex.

3. Community Reputation

A successful lawyer becomes so in part because of their reputation that he or she has built over the years. When one or more persons refer you to the same lawyer, that is usually a good sign that he or she will be a good fit.

In addition, perform your own research and:

  • Read reviews online to make sure there are no claims of false promises or attorneys who abandon clients after getting a settlement.
  • Check the state bar association for any disciplinary actions against the lawyer due to professional misconduct.
  • Ask for references from other clients.

4. Aware of Changes in the Law

Another concern is that applicable laws that might affect your case can change. A good lawyer is not just aware of a Supreme Court ruling from five years ago. You want legal representation from a lawyer who is aware of any new legal precedents that could negatively impact your case.

5. Building a Rapport

Legal acumen and strategy are essential, but most cases will take more than that to win. During the preliminary interview, get to know your lawyer and assess how you feel during the conversation. Trust your gut and ask pointed questions such as:

  • Will you have a team working on my case?
  • How often can I expect to hear from you?
  • Who is your ideal client?

You want to work with someone who not only understands your case, but who will also use compassion. Someone who is receptive to your needs will fight to make sure your loved one’s death does not go unnoticed. Most attorneys offer a free consultation during which you can discuss your wrongful death suit and make decisions about how best to proceed.

hickey turimThanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim S.C. for their added insight into wrongful death suits.

Swimming Pool Injury and Drowning Cases

Drowning and other swimming pool injuries happen quickly and quietly, and as a personal injury lawyer Memphis, TN trusts, we have observed first-hand the tragic aftermath of these types of cases.   The statistics below, obtained from the CDC, show just how serious swimming pool dangers are:

  • About 10 people die every day from drowning.
  • About 1 in 5 of those victims are children 14 and under.
  • Nearly 80% of drowning victims are male.
  • Children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning rates.  Among children ages 1-4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools.
  • The drowning rate for African Americans is significantly higher across all ages.  The disparity is widest among children ages 5-14.

Pool Drains Can Be Deadly

Drowning isn’t the only swimming pool danger. Pool drains can also cause serious injuries and death.  There is even federal legislation governing public pool drains because of the serious risk of harm and death.  The legislation is known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act and it is named after a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by suction from a hot tub drain.

What to Do After a Pool Injury or Drowning

A person who has been injured in a swimming pool or hot tub, may be entitled to compensation for damages. Here are some pointers about what to do if this happens to you or a loved one:

  • Take photos of the scene. Include the pool, equipment, fencing, gates, toys, surrounding area, etc.  It is extremely important to document the scene of the injury or death before the pool owners make any changes.
  • Write down names and contact information of witnesses. If you decide to pursue a claim, your attorney will need to be able to contact and interview witnesses.
  • Talk with an Attorney.  An experienced lawyer can examine the facts of a case and advise you of your legal rights and options.

Thanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC who have significant experience fighting for drowning and swimming pool injury victims in Tennessee.

Can a lawyer help with insurance claims and treatment specifics?

Being in an accident is hard for anyone involved. Having a personal injury attorney there to help makes things easier, such as taking over speaking with the insurance companies and help get treatment set up. As long as you have information for the opposing party in your claim, you can give the information to you personal injury attorney and they are able to set up a claim with your insurance. A letter of representation will be sent over once you have retained with the attorney of your choice. This letter will make sure that the insurance company does not contact you or hassle you for any additional information or pressure you into signing anything. This can be for an opposing party insurance as well as your own.

Once you have retained a personal injury attorney, they are able to help set you up with treatment. Some attorneys have a close network of doctors that they work with and can set you up. Attorneys will always make sure that you get the treatment that is needed so that you are able to heal to the fullest potential. Making sure to gather all records and billing, with lost wages to be added to your demand.

Once you are finished treating, your personal injury attorney will request all information through your medical providers and put everything together in a nice package and send it to the insurance company. If there are any extra policies that the person who caused you pain has, your attorney can also find these. This package with all bills, records, and receipts will demand proper compensation for your accident. Negotiations will be started once the demand is received and reviewed by the insurance company which could include your own depending on the insurance coverage that you have on your own.

If there was not an acceptable offer made in your case, litigation will begin. A skilled car accident attorney Arlington TX counts on will file in a court on your behalf and serve the opposing party and will navigate Discovery, mediation, and depositions all the way through trial, while keeping an eye on your statute of limitations ensuring that it does not pass.

An accident can change your life, attorneys are here to help you through the trying time, taking some of the stress off of you and allowing you time to help you get your life back in order. Do not ever hesitate to ask a question or let them know how you are feeling. If you are still in pain let them know, they will be able to let your doctor know. Your attorney is there to help you and holds your interests over the insurance companies.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm for their insight into personal injury practice.