Rice Law Office Blog
Tell Me: How Can I Afford an Injury Attorney, What is a Contingent Fee, What will My Injury Attorney do first and What Is My Case Worth?This is part two of our three part article, My Injury Case: What To Do and What To Expect-Practical Tips and Answers to the Most Common Questions. In part one we addressed the initial phone consultation and office meeting and gave you inside tips as to what questions you should ask to improve your outcome. In this, part two of our discussion, we answer some of the most common questions clients have: How Can I Afford to Hire an Injury Attorney, What is a Contingent Fee and What is My Case Worth? We also address what happens after you hire an attorney.In Part three, we will explain what is means to "settle" your case and discuss the considerations that go into deciding whether your case will settle or go to trial and what you can do to help your case along.
QUESTION #1: How does the Attorney get paid? I don't have enough money to pay for all this!ANSWER:
In almost all strong personal injury cases Attorneys will offer their clients a contingent fee agreement. We do this at Rice Law Office in most personal injury case and also in worker's compensation, Social Security and some employment cases. This means your attorney will be paid by keeping a percentage or portion of the final settlement or court award resulting from your injury. In a contingent fee arrangement, you are not expected to pay your attorney and hourly rate for his or her services. Essentially, the attorney gets paid only if and when you get paid and that fee comes out of your award. This contingent fee arrangement should be described in writing so there will be no misunderstanding about the fees your attorney will charge or how much your case will cost.
QUESTION #2: If I hire an attorney to represent me in a personal injury claim caused by the negligence of another, what will my attorney do first?ANSWER
Once you hire an attorney, they should handle all the phone calls, leg work and paperwork for you. After the initial office meeting (addressed in our first article) our office usually takes the following steps to begin:
PART ONE: I'VE BEEN INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT,
You've been injured and you are in pain, the bills are coming in, you're missing work, the doctors are talking in another language and you don't know what to do. To make matters worse, you are getting phone calls now from insurance adjusters and you're not even sure who they are. Are they from your insurance company or the other guy's company? They want to take your statement or maybe, they are offering you money to "settle", what are you supposed to do? On top of it all, your boss is calling and asking when you will be back- you're worried you might lose your job while you are out recovering. It's too much to deal with and the stakes have never been higher. YOU NEED HELP.
THERE IS HELP OUT THERE AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE RICH TO GET IT.
First, you start by contacting an injury lawyer who will give you a FREE CONSULATION to discuss your injury claim. Ok, but then what? In this three part article we will empower you with the information you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. We will give you insider Tips and actual Questions you can ask your attorney to improve your outcome.
We will tell you what you can do, and what to expect if you have been injured and need help. In this first article we'll tell you about what you should expect from the initial call and that first the office visit with an injury attorney. We'll also give you practical tips and actual questions you can ask to help choose an attorney. In the next article we will tell you how you can afford an attorney without paying an expensive hourly rate and explain what your attorney will do for you in the initial stages of representation. Finally, we will address common questions clients have about case value, demands and settlement.
Question:I was in a car accident and the insurance company for the other driver has already contacted me. Is it okay for me to give them a statement?
Answer:No, not if you have been injured. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you should first seek an experienced personal injury attorney before giving any statements to the insurance company.
Question:I was in a car accident two weeks ago and the insurance company for the other driver has already offered to pay me for my injuries. Is it okay for me to take the check?
Answer:It may be, but first you should consult with a personal injury attorney. It is possible that the insurance company is simply offering to assist you with your ongoing medical bills or make payment for your damage to your vehicle, but they may also be attempting to make an offer in settlement. Acceptance of that payment may require that you sign a release of all claims. Depending on the circumstances, especially if you have been injured, it would not be wise to sign any kind of release or accept payment without first consulting an attorney. Once you have released your claim, any additional treatment, injuries or loss wages will not be covered by the insurance company. So, while a quick payment may seem tempting, there may be huge consequences attached. That check today may leave you with huge bills to pay tomorrow. Be patient and be smart because if it seems to good to be true... it probably is
Question:I’ve Been Hurt in a Car Accident, How Do I Know if I Have a Case?
With the recent outbreak of measles on the rise across the country questions about immunization requirements have become a hot topic of debate.
At present no cases of measles have been reported in New Hampshire in this recent outbreak, but how likely is that to change? According to a recent story by WMUR's Josh McElveen, Health officials attribute New Hampshire’s clean health record largely to an immunization rate that is among the highest in the country. (published 2/4/15, www.WMUR.com). The State Department of Health and Human Services, indicates more than 97% of school age children in New Hampshire have received the state required immunizations for diseases ranging from the measles to polio.
So what is the law regarding immunization of children in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire requires mandatory vaccination for children attending School or daycare in New Hampshire, with two permitted exemptions: religious and medical. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services website www.dhhs.nh.gov details New Hampshire's mandated vaccinations and provides guidance as to the standards for medical and religious exemption.
Medical exemptions are available to parents or legal guardians of a child for whom immunization against a particular disease may be detrimental to the child's health. In order to obtain a medical exemption certificate the parent or legal guardian must acquire written documentation from a licensed physician or authorized healthcare provider that certifies that immunization against a particular disease may be detrimental to the child's health. The exemption shall exist only for the length of time, in the opinion of the physician; such immunization will be detrimental to the child. Moreover, an exemption from immunization for one disease shall not affect other required immunizations. In other words, an inability to undergo one particular type of immunization does not automatically entitle a child to an exemption from all immunizations across the board.
In the United States, certain sporting events are ingrained into the very fabric of national culture- each year, hundreds of millions of people tune in for events like the Super Bowl and College Basketball’s March Madness. One common phenomenon is the office betting pool or bracket- often a lighthearted and social activity- however it is important to consider the legal status of this practice. Despite the fact that every year billions of dollars are wagered in unofficial office pools during the Super Bowl and March Madness, your office gambling is likely illegal.
Statutes in almost every state prohibit office gambling pools, and in every state but Nevada, gambling on college sports is illegal all together. Despite the questionable legal status of these office pools, they persist across the entire country.
Estimates suggest that 50 million American’s participated in March Madness office pools this year, with over $2.5 billion on the line
Some estimates suggest that total betting on the Super Bowl was over $10 billion this year
College football wagers are estimated to total over $60 billion
MIND-BODY CONNECTION: DEPRESSION AND ITS ROLE IN MAXIMIZING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
While it is certainly possible to receive social security based upon one impairment alone, it is not likely. Most cases are won by individuals suffering from multiple impairments, both physical and mental. The fact is, our mind and body are connected and chances are if one isn’t functioning correctly, the other is also impacted.
Indeed, claimants who suffer from a severe disabling condition almost always have accompanying depression and/or anxiety. When you consider the effects of a serious injury or condition, this outcome should be expected. Serious injuries and medical conditions inevitably lead to altered work routines, additional financial pressure because of lack of income, as well as changes in the types of social, athletic and recreational activities in which you can engage. This creates stress and anxiety which can be disruptive in personal and family relationships.
Moreover, the strong medications used to treat chronic pain often effect sleep patterns and even cognition. Lack of sleep combined with powerful pain medications can affect concentration- many patients have described feeling like they are in a fog, or just "not themselves" any more.
It should come as no surprise that serious physical disabilities are often accompanied by depression and anxiety. What you may not realize, is that it is crucial these mental health symptoms are included in the social security disability application. In determining whether an individual’s physical or mental impairment are of a sufficient severity in order to be eligible for social security benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must consider in accordance with the law (42 USC § 423(d)(2)(B) the combined effect of all of the individual’s impairments.
Disabled Veterans Applying for Social Security
Disabled veterans may be eligible for both social security and veterans disability benefits at the same time, and its important to pursue both options to maximize benefits. Since Veteran Affairs (VA) compensation, or service connected disability, is not based on income, veterans are potentially eligible to receive VA compensation and social security disability (SSDI) simultaneously. Pension benefits are part of the need-based program, and are very similar to supplemental social security income (SSI) offered through the Social Security Administration. While veterans must establish that they suffer from a service connected disability in order to be eligible for VA compensation, veterans who have very little or no income and who are disabled based on non-service disabilities, may also be entitled to compensation under the VA pension plan. Social Security Disability (SSDI) and VA compensation typically offer more generous benefits than either SSI or VA pension. However, it is certainly worthwhile to be aware of these other need-based programs.
One significant difference between social security disability and veterans disability is that claimant doesn’t need to establish the total disability in order to be eligible for VA disability compensation. In general, the Social Security Administration only pays benefits to people who are totally disabled, not partially disabled, or suffering from short-term disability. Claimants are considered disabled if they cannot do work that they did before and if social security decides that the claimant cannot adjust to other work because of his or her medical condition. In addition, the claimant’s disability must last or be expected to last for 12 months or in some cases be expected to result in death. This is not the case with the VA disability compensation. In fact, most veterans who receive VA compensation do not receive a total disability rating. Veterans can receive a compensation rating as low as the 10% level. As mentioned above, another major difference between the two benefit programs is that while the VA only considers service connected disabilities (for VA compensation), the Social Security Administration will consider all impairments regardless of whether they are service related or not.
Establishing a compensable disability rating for purposes of VA benefits may actually improve your chances for being deemed eligible for social security benefits; the higher the rating, the more likely you are to be successful in your bid for social security. In fact, it is the rule in some circuits that VA ratings are entitled to "great weight" when determining a claimant’s application for social security disability. This is because another federal agency has already found that you are either incapable of work or you are at a level where full-time work would be very difficult.
Finally, keep in mind a social security claim for survivor benefits based on the death of a veteran also constitutes a VA claim for death benefits. They are said to be received by the VA at the same time as they are received by the SSA. In seeking death benefits or disability benefits, it is absolutely vital that claimant contact both the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration to explore all of the benefits available.
Its been a busy month at Rice Law Office with speaking engagements, a busy litigation calendar and radio spot with WEMJ.
Attorney Rice had the honor of being invited to speak at the State NEA teachers' fall convention earlier this month, followed by a presentation for the New Hampshire Bar Association the next Friday, where she spoke about employment litigation from the Plaintiff's point of view. She was joined by a panel of employment attorneys from both sides of the table, representing the issues most important to employers and employees alike. The month was capped off with a guest spot @WEMJ1490 radio for open mic with Pat Kelly, where Anne and Pat talked about the ins and outs of employment law basics, here in New Hampshire.
At the NH bar seminar Anne talked about the intake process and how critical it is to choose cases carefully and then to consider what is best for the client as the driving force for moving forward. Trial attorneys love to litigate, its what we do, but for most "normal" people the process can be stressful, expensive and time consuming. There are alternative routes to resolution and good counsel should talk to clients about different ways to get the best outcome, with the least time, stress and cost. We should talk to clients about all the remedies available, including disability insurance, retirement, social security, worker's compensation as well as options for litigation like, claims for wrongful termination, discrimination, or wage violations and the like.
Each type of claim has its pros and cons. Some take longer, some are harder to prove and some have greater or lesser remedies available. A claim for discrimination or wrongful termination can take years to bring for example, but disability insurance, unemployment or worker's compensation may provide a faster source of income to tide an employee over in the meantime. Employees need to know how they will pay their mortgage and keep help insurance pending litigation, but law suits take time! As employment attorneys we need to help sustain our clients as they await justice by providing information, resources and other options for help.
It starts with listening. It's important to listen to clients to help them determine which choice might be best. Employees who are hurt at work, treated poorly or fired, often feel like they have lost all control. Their world is turned upside down when their job is at risk. The truth is, our jobs define our schedule, our security and sometimes who we are. When a job is threatened or pulled out from underneath us, it is frightening and it affects every aspect of our lives and the lives of our family.
There is a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country and it is targeting NH residents as well.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. These scammers may even have caller ID numbers that appear to be from the IRS, the court or the police Deprtment and their tactics are aggressive.
Don't fall prey to this scam.
Here's what you need to know:The IRS does not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer, says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel.“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.”
People should know that according to the IRS, the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail and not the phone.
In the early days of my practice, one of my partners used to say, "unfortunately, if it is not in the medical record, it doesn’t exist." While this is not entirely true, the best evidence in a disability case is often found in the form of medical documentation, and the only way to get that evidence, is to go to the doctor. However, for most people who are unemployed and without income or health insurance, getting necessary medical documentation can seem like an impossible task.
It feels like a no-win argument, right? I mean, how can I possibly afford to go to the doctor to document every physical condition? I'm sick or injured so I can't work; when I lost my job, I lost my health insurance and without an income, I don't have the money to pay for expensive doctor appointments, but without the doctor appointment, I don't have the records and without the records, I can't prove I'm eligible for disability so I can't get health coverage or disability benefits! It seems insane, we know.
Every day we see clients making choices between medical care and groceries. When you don’t have enough money to pay the rent or put food on the table, there really is no choice: you forgo treatment. The problem is, this can become a huge obstacle to your claim for benefits. Claimants who tell the judge they are in constant pain but who do not seek treatment may not come off as credible. If you are injured or hurting, you need to be able to prove that with more than your word; it is vital that your testimony is supported by the medical record.
What’s the answer? You must begin building a medical record. Even if you haven’t been going to the doctor regularly up until now, it is absolutely vital that you begin doing so immediately. It will be hard if you don't have health insurance, but there is help out there and you will need it. See if you are eligible for Medicaid or Obama Care and speak to your doctor or hospital, because almost every county has a clinic or a hospital that will see patients at reduced cost if you truly aren't able to afford care. If you are a veteran, go to your local VA and definitely go to your local welfare office in your county and also in your town. You can also check with your church or place of worship if you have one, as they might have a fund to help in cases such as yours. There are resources out there, but you will have to work to find them.
You may not be employed, but you have a lot of work to do and for now, your job is to seek out and get services for your physical and mental disabilities. You must establish a relationship with a doctor, and attend follow up visits as well as any referrals which are made to see specialists. Whether you are applying for social security or private disability, they need to see records of your condition and care over time, not just once or twice.
It's that time of year when riders take that last sweet ride of the season in the open air and think about putting the bike away until next spring. As you close things up for the season, its a good time to be sure you are not just protecting your vehicle, but that you are taking care of yourself and your riders too. We all know motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars and sure, it follows that they're more likely to be in a crash, but did you know that according to the NHTSA the fatality rate for motorcyclists in 2006 was 5.5 times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants? While motorcycles account for only 3% of all registered motor vehicle and 0.4% of vehicle miles traveled in 2006, 4810 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2006. This is fun that comes with a risk. We all know that, but are we all fully protected? What would happen if you were hurt riding?
According to the NHTSA, motorcycle drivers and their passengers are more exposed and thus they are more likely to suffer general bodily injury, head injury and more serious injuries then a comparable impact involving automobiles. It makes sense then to learn that when motorcyclists are injured, through no fault of their own, they are typically awarded higher damages as a result of their high medical bills, extensive pain and suffering and the lost wages they incur.
The problem is, even when a claim is valid, motorcyclists face the obstacle of prejudice and the public perception that they are reckless drivers. This means it is all that more important that if you or your loved one is hurt as a result of a motorcycle accident, you seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney as soon as possible in order to maximize the chances for success in obtaining all the compensation to which you are entitled.
At Rice Law Office, our attorneys will help you through this difficult time, providing support by dealing with the insurance companies, attorneys, and other accident parties so you can focus on what is important, getting better and getting back to your life. The attorneys at Rice Law Office provide tough and compassionate representation, directed at moving your case forward and obtaining full compensation for you and your family. We will fight to get every dollar allowed by law and work to resolve your accident case faster with less stress and less anxiety.
If you have questions, call Rice Law Office now for a free, no obligation telephone consultation at (603) 528-5299.
New Hampshire has long been known as an idyllic summer location, offering the complete gambit of summer activities for vacationers and full time residents alike. Lakes, mountains, and beaches in the Granite State attract droves of people during the warm months, and New Hampshire stands up as one of the best summer getaways in the US. Whether you’re boating, barbequing, or lighting off some July 4th fireworks, New Hampshire is a great place to recreate. All of these recreational activities, however, come with risk of injury.
Boating is a dangerous activity, and causes hundreds of fatalities and thousands of serious injuries in the US every year. In 2013 the US experienced:
4,062 total boating accidents
Yes, it is possible to be eligible for both workers’ compensation and social security disability benefits. In fact, you may also be entitled to other disability benefits for injuries you’ve suffered at work or in an accident. Injured employees may be eligible for compensation through private disability insurance and/or through employer pension or state retirement disability plans.
Each of these benefit plans may have different eligibility requirements and some of them may take offsets (deductions) if you are receiving benefits under another plan at the same time. Rice Law Office can help with this. Our focus on employment law includes representation in social security, personal injury, workers’ compensation, discrimination and termination cases. Often, employees who are injured at work or elsewhere, become disabled and risk losing their job. The laws which govern these cases can be complicated and it is important to carefully consider your options before ruling out or ruling in any type of claim. The toughest thing about these cases is you don’t know what you don’t know until it is too late and it’s important to call an experienced employment attorney early before your options have been limited by time or lack of information.
At Rice Law office we lend you our experience to even the playing field. With our help, you can take advantage of the benefits you have paid for and earned over the years when you need it the most.
If your hurt, you need to focus on getting better, let us take care of the rest. Call Rice Law Office at 524-5426
A recent Blomberg News article by reporter Robert Schmidt addressed assistant secretary at the U.S. Labor Department, Phyllis Borzi’s fight to tighten the standards for Brokers investing retirement accounts. Below are excerpts from that article.For a full view of the article go to http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-18/cobra-s-mother-takes-on-wall-street-in-fight-over-401-k-s.html
How Americans save for their latter years has changed vastly since Labor first set rules for retirement funds in the 1970s. Many workers had employer-controlled pensions and the 401(k) didn’t exist. Now, pensions are rare and tens of millions of people rely on their 401(k) plans and IRAs, which together hold almost $11 trillion.
According to Phyllis Borzi, assistant secretary at the U.S. Labor Department, those resources are increasingly needed. Some 10,000 people will turn 65 every day from now until Dec. 31, 2030,
Borzi is fighting to protect those precious dollars. She has long argued that people’s retirement savings can be eroded by high fees or imprudent investments recommended by advisers with hidden incentives. She is pushing for brokers to be held to a legal standard that they must act in a client’s best interest, an obligation known as a fiduciary duty.
Brokers are held to a "suitability" standard, meaning they must reasonably believe their recommendation is right for a client. Investment advisers operate under the fiduciary standard, which imposes a much tougher overall responsibility for the customer’s welfare.
New Hampshire is preparing to implement the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) that will help provide access to health care coverage to Granite Staters who may have never had insurance before. As the program gets closer to launching, the Department of Health and Human Services is hosting a number of information sessions to talk directly with individuals around the state about exactly what the program means.
For those interested in getting more information regarding the NHHPP, and would like an opportunity to speak with individuals involved from the Department of Health and Human Services, please RSVP to one of the events below:
· Keene, Thursday, June 12, Keene Public Library, 60 Winter St., 5:30-7 pm
· Laconia, Monday, June 16, Laconia Middle School, 150 McGrath St., 5:30-7 pm