Worker’s Comp | Social Security Disability Benefits | Real Estate

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Worker’s Comp

Do I need an attorney?

You are not required to have an attorney when appearing before the Workers’ Compensation Board. However, your adversary, the insurance company will have a team of skilled attorneys working to defeat your claim. In our opinion it is not prudent for an individual to “go it alone” without benefit of counsel.

How do I pay my attorney?

Pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Law attorneys cannot charge their clients by the hour. Attorney’s fees are set by the Judge and only awarded if the attorney’s efforts result in his client receiving money.

How long does “it” take?

In any Workers’ Compensation claim there are any number of potential legal issues that if disputed by the insurance carrier will have to be decided by a Workers’ Compensation Judge. While the Workers’ Compensation system has gotten better over the years in rendering a decision on disputed issues it is still somewhat of a “broken system” in that it takes longer than it should for an injured worker to get an answer and hence medical treatment and payments he deserves. An experienced attorney can “fast track” your claim and reduce the time it takes to receive a favorable decision.

Can I change lawyers?

Yes. After discussing your claim during the free consultation our office offers and deciding how we can better help you, we take care of all of the paperwork notifying your prior attorney that we are taking over the case. If we win your claim the Judge will only allow one attorney’s fee which will be divided by our office and your prior attorney. This rule works to protect the injured worker so he does not have to pay “double” attorney’s fees.

What do I receive under WC law?

Most importantly, if you win your claim you will be entitled to lifetime medical protection for the injury sustained. That means for the remainder of your life if you go to a health care provider for treatment of the injuries sustained during the Workers’ Compensation accident, the Compensation Insurance carrier will be required to pay 100% of your medical bills. There are no co-payments. The injured worker is not responsible for making any co-payments for medical treatment. In addition, if you are unable to work as a result of your injury, or are working earning less than you used to you will be entitled to Workers’ Compensation payments. Finally, an injured worker is also entitled to be reimbursed for all travel expenses for all mileage traveled to and from health care providers treating them for their injury. Mileage is reimbursed at $0.50 per mile. In most cases, we have also been successful in securing our client a cash settlement while at the same time keeping their lifetime medical protection rights open and valid.

Who should I be talking to?

No one. It has been our overwhelming experience that any individual who reaches out to an injured worker to take any type of a statement – recorded or other – on behalf of any entity including the Workers’ Compensation Board, insurance company, employer, etc., while always giving the impression they are trying to help the person with their claim are instead operating to gather information to defeat the claim. Moreover, innocent oversights or honest minuscule misstatement of facts have on occasion lead to fraud allegation by the insurance carrier and disqualification from Workers’ Compensation benefits for the injured worker and in worse case scenarios criminal prosecution. These dangers are completely eliminated if an injured worker immediately reaches out to an attorney practicing Workers’ Compensation Law and lets the attorney take care of the paperwork and the alike to go forward with the claim.

I was injured at work but didn’t lose any time from work… should I still file a claim?

Yes. No matter how insignificant the injury, the only way for you to secure your rights to lifetime medical protection is to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Board. We have the official Workers’ Compensation Board claim filing forms in our office and can assist you in completing it. Failure to file a claim within the statutory required period will result in the individual not having any rights whatsoever under the Workers’ Compensation Law for the injury suffered. Again, it is free to file a claim and it is essentially free to hire an attorney to do so as he will only be awarded a fee if his efforts result in you receiving a money award. Finally, we have successfully represented hundreds of individuals where they did not lose a single day from work but still receive a sizable money award while retaining their lifetime medical treatment rights.

My “problem” occurred slowly over a period of time- their was no accident… do I still have a claim?

Yes. There are essentially 2 types of claims which can be filed before the Workers’ Compensation Board. One is commonly referred to as a “accident”. That is one identifiable event in time where the individual was injured. An example would be where a worker bent over to pick up a box and injured his back. The other is referred to as an “occupational disease”. This is something that occurred over a period of time anywhere from several days to many many months such as the slow onset of a back injury from doing repetitive lifting, bending or twisting at work, the slow onset of pain and tingling in one’s hands, wrists or fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, etc.) which occurred over a period of time from doing keyboard or data entry work or the slow loss of hearing due to working in a noisy environment such as a factory or a construction site. The rights of the injured worker and the protection they are entitled to under the Workers’ Compensation Law are exactly the same for both types of claims.

Can I sue my employer?

No. In New York State, an injured worker cannot sue his employer for an on the job injury. The exclusive remedy is Workers’ Compensation benefits. Arguably, this works to the injured worker’s benefit as the burden of proof and facts needed to win a claim before the Workers’ Compensation Board are much easier to establish than those in a lawsuit. There are however, occasions where an individual can sue another individual if that individual caused his injuries. For example, if you are injured while driving your automobile as part of your work responsibilities because someone ran a stop sign and hits your vehicle then you essentially have 2 claims – a Workers’ Compensation claim and what is commonly referred to as a “third party lawsuit” against the individual who ran the stop sign. Depending upon the severity of your injury we may also have you file a Social Security Disability claim to protect your rights.

We will be happy to review and discuss these and/or any other legal questions or concerns that you have. The choice is yours…. We can meet in person, over the phone, or via email.

Call (518) 783-2600 to schedule your free consultation or click here to talk to an attorney.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Who is eligible?

Anyone who paid FICA taxes as an employee, self employed individual or other during 5 out of the prior 10 years before their disability is eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.

How do I apply?

Applying is easy. You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits by completing a Social Security Disability application that can be obtained at any Social Security Disability office. This application can also be completed “over the phone” with a Social Security Administration employee or online.

How does “it” work?

Once the Social Security Disability application is completed it is important to send the Social Security Administration all of the medical reports that reference you injury / disability. Thereafter, an “initial” decision will be rendered by the Social Security Administration. You will receive a written copy of that decision in the mail. If you receive a favorable decision then you have won your claim and will begin receiving Social Security Disability payments on a monthly basis and after a specified period of time you will also be entitled to Medicare benefits. If the initial decision is a denial, then you will be required to file an appeal and request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge so your claim can be presented in a more thorough fashion affording you a much better opportunity to win your claim.

What can I expect?

Most applicants are denied benefits at the first stage. However, a very high percentage of these same individuals ultimately win their claim with benefit of counsel and a hearing. While, the time periods can vary widely it is our best estimate that an initial decision will be received within five months of the application and a hearing scheduled within 12 months thereafter.

Do I need an attorney?

While the Social Security Administration does not require you to have an attorney to file for Social Security Disability benefits it is strongly recommended that you seek counsel to represent you. Counsel can provide a thorough review and submission of medical records, the submission of a legal memorandum persuading the Judge why you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and proper preparation for your testimony and presentation of evidence at a Social Security Disability hearing.

How is my attorney paid?

We only represent individuals in Social Security Disability claims under a contingency fee agreement. We find this most beneficial to our clients in that we will only receive an attorney’s fee if we win your claim and your claim entitles you to retroactive Social Security Disability payments. All attorney’s fees are approved and awarded by the Judge. Under this arrangement you will have no financial exposure whatsoever should we fail to win your claim or we win your claim but you do not receive retroactive Social Security Disability payments.

Will I have to go to Court?

In most instances, a hearing will be needed in order to win your claim. However, the hearing process is conducted in an informal setting akin to a professional office as opposed to an actual court room. We always meet with our client long prior to the hearing to answer any questions or concerns they may have and to make sure they are properly prepared to testify at the hearing.

We will be happy to review and discuss these and/or any other legal questions or concerns that you have. The choice is yours…. We can meet in person, over the phone, or via email.

Call (518) 783-2600 to schedule your free consultation or click here to talk to an attorney.

Real Estate

What is the first step?

Agreements to purchase or sell real estate must be in writing. While, it is possible to enter into non-written oral agreements in other arenas, an agreement to purchase or sell real estate is only binding if it is in writing and signed by the necessary parties. Thus, as a potential purchaser, the first step in the process after you have found a home you want to purchase is to submit a written contract, outlining all of the specifics of your offer to purchase the property, to the seller. The opposite is true for a seller in that after showing the property they have for sale to a potential purchaser, the process will begin on their behalf once they receive a written contract by a potential purchaser which has been signed by the potential purchaser.

What’s to do next?

As a potential purchaser of real property it is highly recommended that you meet with your real estate attorney to draft and/or review the contract you will be submitting to the seller. In most instances, what we refer to as a “standard form real estate contract” will be used as a template but thereafter customized to your specific needs and desires. Unfortunately, most individuals do not reach out to their attorney until they have already submitted a signed contract to the seller and the seller has signed it as well. While, this is a workable situation it is more advisable to meet with your attorney before submitting the contract so your attorney can make sure that you are protected in every which way and that you are actually submitting a contract that is 100% consistent with your intentions. It is easier to contractually get what you want with initial contract language as opposed to negotiating changes or amendments after it has already been signed by the necessary parties. If you choose to submit a contract with the assistance of a real estate agent or other without having your attorney first review the contract you must immediately bring the contract to your attorney after it has been signed by the seller as in most instances it will not be legally possible to change the terms of the written contract after the passage of five (5) days from the last signature of the contract. For essentially the same reasons as above it is always advisable that a seller of real estate first bring the contract they received to their attorney for review and advice before signing the contract. Again, if the contract is signed by the seller without first being reviewed by an attorney it is imperative that the seller immediately bring the contract to his or her attorney after it has been signed by all parties.

Legal effects of contract.

A written contract is a legally binding document. Thus, once signed by the parties and satisfaction of all of the contractual contingencies the seller is legally obligated to sell the property and the purchaser is legally obligated to purchase the property. All real estate contracts must contain legal contingencies where upon if not sufficiently satisfied will allow the particular party who has the benefit of the contingency to cancel the contract. Standard contingencies are attorney approval clause, structural inspection contingency, pest inspection contingency, mortgage contingency and if applicable, well and septic inspection contingency.

The real estate closing process – how does it work?

All contracts for the sale / purchase of real estate will include a closing date. This is the “target date” for the actual sale / purchase of the property and finalization of the legal transaction. While all parties must work diligently to have all of their work done by this particular date, in most instances the closing actually occurs a few days before or a few days after the “target date” as written in the contract. As soon as the contract is signed by all parties it is important for the purchaser to diligently work with his or her lender to obtain mortgage financing. Your attorney will work to insure that all contingencies that protect you are either satisfied or an agreed extension of time is granted by the seller to satisfy the contingency. Your attorney will also review the history regarding your particular property to make sure the person selling it actually has the right to sell the property and to make sure you are otherwise receiving “clean” title once you purchase the property. By “clean” title we mean you are buying a property free and clear from any liens. The seller’s attorney will work to protect the seller as it relates to any contingencies he or she holds and also assist the potential purchaser in obtaining title documents to the property being sold and then as the closing process nears its final date, work with the seller to have final readings done for such items as water/sewer readings, property and school tax prorations, and fuel tank readings if applicable.

Do I need an attorney?

Neither a seller nor a purchaser is required by law to have an attorney to effectuate a real estate transaction. However, the purchase of real estate is in nearly every instance the most significant investment an individual will make in his or her lifetime. There is a lot at risk and numerous issues that must be satisfied prior to the closing. Pursuant to the written contract the seller has legal obligations as well. We charge a one time fee of $495.00 to represent either a purchaser or seller of residential real estate. This is a nominal fee to pay in order to protect your investment and have the professional advice and protection from an experienced real estate attorney that you need.

When do I pay the attorney’s fee?

Whether we are representing the purchaser or seller our $495.00 fee is not due until the transaction is complete and the closing is over.

We will be happy to review and discuss these and/or any other legal questions or concerns that you have. The choice is yours…. We can meet in person, over the phone, or via email.

Call (518) 783-2600 to schedule your free consultation or click here to talk to an attorney.