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Attorney, Keith R. Siskind of the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Associates, LLC, attended the American Conference Institute seminar on Litigating Disability Insurance Claims held in Boston on September 14 and 15, 2016.  The seminar addressed multiple issues associated with disability insurance claims.  These issues include the applicability of ERISA, remedies, discovery, and contractual limitations.  Cases often turn on the applicable standard of review to be applied by the court when resolving disability claims.  The Department of Labor has proposed new Federal Regulations that will help create a more even playing field for a claimant by providing claimants with an opportunity to respond to medical reviews obtained by the insurance carrier before a final decision is issued on appeal and requiring strict compliance from insurance carriers.  It is hopeful that these new regulations will become effective shortly.

More importantly, this seminar reinforced how critical it is for claimants to have experienced legal counsel when pursuing disability insurance claims.  The process is cumbersome.  Insurance companies increasingly seek more information to document a claimant’s disability.  A claimant needs an attorney to help sort through the complex medical and other documentation that is required to get a claim approved.  An attorney can assist with reviewing the claim, obtaining applicable records, securing appropriate evaluations and challenging a denied claim by the insurance company.

When a claimant becomes disabled and is unable to work, it is often a  stressful time both emotionally and financially for the claimant and their families.  Not only does the claimant have to deal with their medical condition and the financial loss of income, but also the minutiae of information that the insurance company seeks to document a disability.  Do not try to pursue such a claim without experienced legal counsel to navigate you through this process.  It can be overwhelming.  You need the support that an experienced disability attorney can provide.

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In a recent Maryland Court of Appeals case, the Court  determined that even though a contractor did not have workers’ compensation insurance, they could be an employee of the general contractor, and therefore  covered under the  general contractor’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. The Court looked at the employer-employee relationship under common law principles. In this case the injured worker installed windows and doors for the company. Although he had a home improvement license, he did not have workers’ compensation insurance.  However the company he contracted with, scheduled all his appointments and provided the supplies and materials. The injured worker also wore the company’s shirts with their logo on them.  As a result the Court of Appeals determined that the injured worker was covered by insurance.

 

If you are hurt at work, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and  Associates, LLC. Our initial consultation is free, and there are no costs or expenses unless we win your case!

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white-shepherd-snow-dog-1446334-3-mUp until last spring, Maryland loosely followed what is sometimes called the “one bite rule.” This meant the owner of a dog that bites someone might not be held liable if the bite was the dog’s first bite. An otherwise peaceful dog would get one bite that would not result in owner liability. However, the dog owner was liable to somebody who got bitten by the dog when the dog had a dangerous or vicious propensity, which was known to the owner. Therefore, a dog owner could be held liable if the dog routinely attacked others, even if no actual dog bites had ever occurred.

In April 2014, Maryland passed a new law enacting limited statutory strict liability for dog bite cases. Under the new law, the owner of a dog can be held strictly liable unless he can prove that he didn’t know nor should have known of the vicious propensities of the dog.

In other words, there is now a rebuttable presumption that the owner did know of the dog’s vicious propensity, since the burden of proof is now shifted. It is not up to the victim to prove that the owner actually knew of the vicious propensity if the dog is running at large and bites her, but instead it is up to the owner to show he didn’t know. To strengthen this presumption, the new law says that if the case is going to trial, the judge cannot rule as a matter of law that the presumption has been rebutted before the jury renders its verdict. Continue reading →

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When you work and pay Social Security taxes it is as though you are paying premiums on a disability policy through the Federal Government.  For an individual that has worked and earned at least $4,640 per year in the 5 years prior to becoming disabled, that individual would have a date last insured of 5 years after he or she stopped working.  Essentially, you must have worked 5 out of the previous 10 years in order to be fully insured.  There are exceptions for workers under the age of 31.  When you are fully insured, you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits as long as Social Security finds that you meet their criteria for disability as of your date last insured.  This does not mean that you must receive a decision prior to your date last insured, it just means that Social Security must find that your disability began on or before that date.

Here is an example: Assume that you have a date last insured of 12/31/11.  That means that in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, Social Security must find that you became disabled on or before 12/31/11.  If Social Security finds that you are currently disabled but did not become disabled until 6/25/12, then you will not satisfy the criteria for disability benefits.  However, if you have a date last insured of 12/31/11 and Social Security makes a decision on 9/13/13 finding that you became disabled on 6/1/11, then you will still qualify for disability benefits because your disability onset date is before your date last insured.  It doesn’t matter when Social Security makes the decision, as long as they find that the date that you became disabled was on or before your date last insured.  If you do not qualify for Social Security Disability benefits because you have not paid enough taxes into the system, you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if you do not exceed the maximum allowable amounts for assets and household income.