Archive for June, 2016

What to Do After Your Social Security Disability Has Been Denied

You must do five things upon learning that your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) has been denied:

  • Remain calm
  • Refuse to accept that initial no as a final answer
  • Read all the documentation the agency sent along with its rejection letter
  • Consult with a dedicated Columbus disability attorney
  • Appeal (and, maybe, appeal again)

Stay the Course

Taking the first two steps are essential because you were no doubt counting on receiving benefits you spent a lifetime paying toward. SSDI funds comes from the F.I.C.A. with holdings you miss every time you get paid. The program exists to provide beneficiaries with cash to pay rent or a mortgage, buy food, and afford essentials like clothes once they become too disabled to continue earning regular paychecks. Unlike Ohio Workers’ Compensation, the federal Social Security Administration awards benefits even when a disabling condition does not arise from a work-related incident.

Becoming angry and discouraged when your government fails you is understandable but counterproductive. Many, if not most, first-time SSDI applications get denied for reasons ranging from insufficient and incorrectly completed paperwork to questions over the nature and degree of disability. Correcting errors and clarifying misinterpretations are possible, but a notice of intent to appeal that includes the general grounds for appealing must be filed within a month of receiving the rejection letter.

Learn Your Options

You must know why you can appeal the SSDI denial and be able to explain the reason to the agency. The agency’s letter and supporting documents should provide all the information needed for figuring that out, but the material is likely to be phrased in language that obscures the meaning. Learn what you can, then pick up the phone to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable Social Security lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, who can translate the bureaucratese to everyday English.

You have the right to work with a legal advisor and representative from the second you decide to start thinking about maybe applying for SSDI benefits. If you did not exercise that right before having to appeal, now is the time to enlist the assistance of someone who knows the ins and outs of Social Security Disability Insurance, someone who has navigated the system successfully in the past, and someone who has well-established professional relationships with the staff of the local Social Security office.


Receiving SSDI benefits can require going through four levels of official appeals and taking the federal government to civil court. That is daunting but doable. Few cases progress so far, but recognizing that the SSDI appeals process can be so complex and protracted should offer hope as much as it intimidates. Success is possible at each stage, and your SSDI appeals attorney can connect you with health care and other resources to tide you over while fighting for federal disability benefits.

If you need help with a Social Security case, contact the legal team at the Columbus, OH, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman. The first consultation will cost you nothing, so do not hesitate to reach out online or to call (800) 678-3318.

Why File a Wrongful Death Case?

Justice, fairness, and the need recover financially from the unexpectedly loss of a family member who contributed to household expenses top the list of reasons to file a wrongful death insurance claim or civil lawsuit. As far from the popular misconception of wrongful death settlements and judgments as lottery wins and cash-ins as possible, most of the money suffering families receive goes to cover unpaid end-of-life medical bills, funeral expenses, and the lost wages of the deceased person. And since the money comes from individuals or corporations whose negligent or reckless actions resulted in an innocent person’s loss of life, wrongful death payments constitute only part of what is due on a debt that can never be repaid in full.

The need to compensate those we have harmed is a cornerstone of all ethical philosophies. A wrongful death case represents the ultimate claim to have those who inflicted the severest harm live up to their obligations as members of society. The Cleveland wrongful death attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman are honored to play a role in making sure this happens. Here, we take the opportunity to explain the grounds for, and the process of, making wrongful death claims.

Causes for and Steps in a Wrongful Death Case

Anything that can cause a personal injury can also leave a person dead. This includes car accidents, medical malpractice, dangerous and defective products, and nursing home abuse. When a person or company is found to have exercised insufficient care and caution to prevent the incident that resulted in death, that individual or organization can be held liable for a wrongful death.

The first stages of making a wrongful death case is usually to work with a wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio, to collect evidence that deceased victim suffered the terrible fate because of negligence or recklessness. Calculations and descriptions of the financial and emotional tolls taken by the loss of a husband, wife, mother, father, son, or daughter must also be prepared.

Once all of that information is presented to an insurance company, things can become confusing and contentious. Rather than agree to pay adequate compensation, insurance company representative may try to blame the deceased victim for causing his or her own death. Even if a settlement is offered, it is often much too low to be meaningful. Having representation from a skilled and caring Cleveland wrongful death lawyer as negotiations with insurers proceed can be invaluable for families who do not want to become victims a second time.

When an insurance company refuses to settle in a timely and fair way, the case goes to trial in civil court. The whole legal process involving depositions, motions, testimony, and deliberation can take years to reach a conclusion. To ensure families are not deprived of justice through insurance company delay tactics, Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman wrongful death attorneys work on contingency, meaning we only get paid if our clients succeed with their claims.

What Can Be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Case

As with personal injury cases, the majority of any settlement or judgment resulting from a wrongful death case represents compensation for economic damages. As noted above, the direct costs of suddenly and unfairly losing a loved one include burial expenses and family travel for the funeral, lost financial support from future earnings, and hospital or emergency care bills accrued in the period leading up to death.

Noneconomic damages, which are commonly referred to as “pain and suffering,” can also account for a good deal of a wrongful death payment. When a family member dies, the person’s spouse loses what lawyers call “consortium” (i.e., love and sex), children lose a parent’s care and guidance, siblings lose advice and support, and surviving parents lose a very part of themselves. Exact dollar values cannot be assigned to those losses, but each deserves compensation.

A final type of claim that can be made following a wrongful death is one for punitive damages. Asking for punitive damages is usually only possible when the responsible party acted recklessly by, for example, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or by knowingly selling a deadly product. Assessing punitive damages constitutes a noncriminal punishment and serves as a warning to others who might commit the same harmful act.

If you have additional questions regarding a wrongful death case, contact Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman online or call us at (800) 678-3318. A consultation will cost you nothing.

Important Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident

Before discussing how to respond after suffering a slip and fall injury, let’s get clear on what constitutes the problem.

Recognize When Liability May Exist

“Slip and fall” is such a broad category of personal injury that it can help to define what a slip and fall is not:

  • Not car accident-related
  • Not medical malpractice
  • Not patient or family member abuse and neglect
  • Not caused by a dangerous or defective product

Eliminating other forms of personal injuries leaves a general description of slips and falls as physical injuries and wrongful deaths suffered outside one’s own home. A slip and fall can occur at someone else’s home, a business, or a public venue like a stadium, parking garage, or park. Examples of cases handled by slip and fall lawyers include

  • Falling down stairs
  • Falling off balconies, raised walkways, and ladders
  • Tripping over obstacles
  • Slips on wet and oily floors
  • Being hit by falling or airborne objects
  • Drowning
  • Electric shocks and electrocutions
  • Assaults by customers or staff in stores
  • Poisonings, including illnesses from spoiled or incorrectly prepared food served in restaurants and sold in stores
  • Smoke inhalation

The common thread in each type of case an Ohio personal injury lawyer would treat as a slip and fall is that his or her client got hurt because a property owner or other responsible party proved negligent in protecting the victim’s health and safety. For instance, a homeowner who has a pool in the backyard has legal duties to restrict access and take other measures to prevent drownings. Similarly, a store owner has an enforceable obligation to ensure that all products displayed at eye level or higher remain securely in place. And a hotel owner must meet all applicable business codes and keep all railings, carpets, and fixtures in proper repair.

Act Quickly

As with any type of personal injury, the first step to take after suffering a slip and fall is to seek medical care. Even minor cuts and bruises sustained on other people’s property may merit a trip to your physician or an emergency room, especially if you were struck in the head. Deep tissue injuries, head trauma, concussions, and structural damage to joints are not always instantly apparent but can produce long-term difficulties.

Going to a doctor starts a paper trail that documents the incident and its consequences. Other information to compile includes

  • The location and time of the injury, complete with the street address and, if relevant, business name
  • The identity and contact information for the property owner, business manager, and/or official who has responsibility for making the property safe
  • Insurance coverage information for the property owner, etc.
  • Witness descriptions of the event that left you injured
  • Your own description of the event
  • Medical records related to the injury
  • Notes on phone calls and printouts of emails with all insurance company representatives

The time to contact a Columbus personal injury attorney regarding filing an insurance claim or civil lawsuit to receive compensation for a slip and fall is as soon as you believe you will be treated unfairly by the person or corporation that neglected the duty to provide adequate protections. Businesses, in particular, often contest slip and fall claims or promise compensation only to offer settlements that come nowhere close to covering medical bills, lost wages, and other injury-related costs.

The Ohio personal injury attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman have helped many people who suffered slip and fall injuries. If you would like to discuss a possible case for free, contact our Columbus offices by calling (800) 678-3318 or schedule an appointment online.


Tips on Preventing Car Accidents

As Cleveland, Ohio personal injury attorneys, members of the Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman legal team help many car accident victims. We love helping people hurt by negligent and reckless drivers receive the insurance settlements and civil lawsuit awards they need to pay medical bills, cover lost wages, and get on with their lives. Truth be told, though, we’d rather see everyone on the road operate safely and respectfully. That would mean less work for us, but the benefits to all Ohioans would be worth the sacrifice.

Almost every crash can be prevented or avoided. Here are seven ways to make that happen.

Stay Sober

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently organized the causes of car, truck, and motorcycle accidents into the general categories of driver-related, vehicle-related, and environment-related. Driver error lead to the most wrecks, and topping the list of reasons fatal driver-related crashes occur is operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI), which is what Ohio statutes call drunk and drugged driving. OVI clouds judgment, blurs vision, slows reaction time, and causes drowsiness. Resisting the urge to climb into the driver’s seat after consuming to much alcohol or getting high saves lives, not the least of which will be the life of the potential drunk or drugged driver.

Stay Awake and Alert

Falling asleep at the wheel is a major factor in many of the most serious wrecks involving commercial truck drivers. Long shifts and short rest periods imposed by tight deadlines and pay systems that reward covering the most miles in the smallest number of hours create dangerously drowsy truckers. Any driver, however, constitutes a clear and present danger if he or she has gone days without sleeping properly, or even just stayed up around the clock for a single day.

Put Down Your Phone

Anything that takes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel, eyes off the road, or mind off the task of driving and the actions of other drivers is a potentially fatal distraction. Using phones to talk and text are particularly problematic, but no driver distraction is completely safe. One that teens, in particular, must recognize is interacting with passengers instead of focusing on operating safely.

Go With the Flow

Do not speed or impede traffic. Slow down when ice or rain slickens pavement. Signal turns and lane changes. Brake for yellow lights and yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks. Obey caution signs in and around construction zones. Never cross double yellow lines. Do not tailgate.

Anything that takes your vehicle out or against the flow of traffic puts you at risk for causing or falling victim to a traffic accident.

Check Your Blind Spots

Pedestrians, bike riders, and motorcyclists get hit, injured, and killed all the time by drivers whose only excuse is “I never even saw them.” Taking the time to look prevents a lot of tragedies, as does turning one’s head before changing lane instead of just trusting the view in the rear view and side mirrors.

Keep Your Car in Proper Repair

The vehicle-related crashes catalogued by NHTSA result from cars and trucks losing wheels, stalling out on interstates, experiencing tire blowouts, catching fire, and having loose cargo fly out of truck beds or trailers. Performing proper maintenance and securing loads protects everyone on the road.

Know When to Give Up the Keys

Driving safely requires mental focus, adequate vision, physical coordination, and, unless a vehicle has been modified, both feet and both hands. Anyone who loses those capabilities due to age, illness, medication, or injury should let someone else take the wheel.

If you need to speak with a Cleveland car accident injury lawyer because someone else ignored any part of the foregoing advice on how to prevent a crash, call Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman at (800) 678-3318. You can also schedule a no-cost case consultation by contacting us online.


Cleveland OH Workers Comp Lawyer
Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman
6100 Oak Tree Blvd., Suite 200, Cleveland Ohio 44131 USA
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