Archive for 2019

Can I Get Disability Benefits for My Social Anxiety Disorder?

The federal and state long-term disability programs available to Ohio residents do cover mental disorders, including social anxiety disorder. Simply documenting the existence of a persistent, treatment-resistant condition, however, will not qualify you to receive disability benefits for anxiety and depression from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) or through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

At our Cleveland offices, we have helped hundreds of people navigate the OPERS and SSDI application and appeals processes. These decades of experience convince us that we cannot answer everyone’s questions in a brief blog post. What we are able to do is outline the qualification criteria for SSDI benefits for anxiety. We focus on the federal program because the majority of people who apply will only be eligible to petition Social Security. Only state and local government employees, as well as educators and public school staff, who never paid into Social Security, will be eligible to apply for OPERS disability benefits.

We invite anyone who has specific issues related to securing federal long-term disability benefits or who is dealing with OPERS to contact us online or call us at (800) 678-3318 to schedule a free consultation. We can come to you if your health or financial circumstances make visiting us impractical.

Who Qualifies for SSDI Benefits for Social Anxiety Benefits?

As noted, an SSDI applicant must have paid into the federal retirement and disability program, usually through deductions from their paychecks. Children and legal minor dependents of adults who paid into Social Security may also qualify for SSDI.

Proof of U.S. citizenship is almost always required, and medical documentation of a condition that has kept the applicant from working for at least 12 consecutive months must be submitted. As explained in the Social Security Administration’s official Listing of Impairments, social anxiety disorder qualifies for SSDI coverage when the applicant submits evidence that they suffer from three of the following symptoms:

  • Restlessness,
  • Easily fatigued,
  • Difficulty concentrating,
  • Irritability,
  • Muscle tension, or
  • Sleep disturbance.

The symptoms must also cause “extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of the following areas of mental functioning”:

  • Understand, remember, or apply information;
  • Interact with others;
  • Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace; and/or
  • Adapt or manage oneself.

In some cases, a person who has experienced social anxiety symptoms for two years or more while undergoing treatment and maintaining some employment and functionality can qualify to receive SSDI benefits. Qualifying under this last set of criteria requires submitting a great deal of documentation from doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, and members of what the Social Security Administration calls an applicant’s “psychosocial support” network (i.e., friends, family members, fellow members of support groups).

Not Just Anxiety

SSDI potentially covers all disabling mental disorders, including, but not limited to,

  • Schizophrenia,
  • Psychotic disorders,
  • Bipolar disorder,
  • Major depressive disorder,
  • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder,
  • Personality and impulse-control disorder,
  • Autism spectrum disorders,
  • Eating disorders, and
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.

The standards for considering the presence of such conditions permanently disabling remain largely the same. For instance, hallucinations triggered by schizophrenia must render an applicant incapable of concentrating and managing oneself. Similarly, an eating disorder must make an applicant incapable of maintaining pace. perhaps due to physical weakness from malnutrition.

Pros and Cons of Settling Workers’ Comp Claim in Ohio?

One of the bad things about workers’ compensation is that the pros and cons of settling a claim amount to the same thing. In short, accepting a settlement on outstanding bills and replacement wages ends the case. Depending on your current circumstances and future needs, this can be a positive outcome or a negative one.

The Pros

The way things usually work, accepting a workers’ comp settlement means you receive a lump sum payment in exchange for agreeing to drop all current and future claims related to your present case. This can be a relief, allowing you to clear up current bills and keeping you from going to court to argue for benefits.

The Cons

Work-related injuries and occupational illnesses can cause serious problems throughout a lifetime. Accepting a workers’ comp settlement means you almost definitely will not be able to go back to the program to request coverage for follow-up surgeries, ongoing treatment or additional therapy.

Decide When to Settle

Recognizing when settling is in your best interest requires taking three considerations.

First, the surest way to decide whether the pros of accepting a worker’s comp settlement outweigh the cons is to determine whether you can expect to experience new or worsening symptoms from your work-related injury or occupational illness. If the answer, reached in consultation with your doctors and therapy providers, is no, then settling your case with Ohio Workers’ Compensation often makes sense.

Learning that you will probably need future treatment or ongoing therapy could convince you to keep at least part of your case open. The workers’ comp program lets injured or ill people negotiate partial settlements and petition for a reinstatement of benefits at a later date. For instance, a workplace accident that results in the amputation of a finger can be partially settled to accept a lump sum for the amputation and kept partially open for coverage of reconstructive surgery years later.

After considering future needs, you must factor in your current reality of either having returned to work or receiving a notice that you have achieved what the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation calls “maximum medical improvement.” The workers’ comp program stops approving payments on new medical and therapy bills once you go back to your job or after you reach the point when additional health care interventions will not improve your physical function. Since workers’ comp benefits will end anyway, it makes sense to strongly consider negotiating a lump sum payment on outstanding claims.

A final consideration will be whether you have been approved to receive long-term disability benefits through a program like Social Security Disability Insurance. Being on workers’ comp will not affect your eligibility for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income, but the money paid by the workers’ comp program could lower your federal benefits.

Speaking with a workers’ comp attorney in the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman could help you decide whether to accept a settlement. You can schedule a free consultation online or talk with a lawyer by calling (800) 678-3318.

What Happens After a Deposition in Ohio Personal Injury Case?

A personal injury lawsuit can take multiple paths once attorneys start taking depositions from witnesses, the plaintiff, and the defendant. Some personal injury cases do settle after it seemed obvious that the defendant would insist on their day in court. Other cases resolve via arbitration or mediation, and a handful go all the way through a jury trial.

As personal injury attorneys in Cleveland, we cannot guarantee which way one of our client’s cases will go. We do make sure to keep every client fully informed throughout the process and to explain each of their options as they become available.

What Is a Deposition?

Depositions occur when initial efforts to reach a negotiated settlement fail and an injured victim’s lawyer files a personal injury lawsuit. The number of depositions will depend on how complicated the case is, but the list of people called in to be deposed almost always includes:

  • The plaintiff, who is the person who suffered the injury or the individual who is taking legal action on behalf of a victim who is decease, younger than 18, or too disabled to represent themselves;
  • The defendant, who can be the person who inflicted the injury (such as a driver who caused a crash) or an official from the company named as the defendant (such as a business owner when the case involves a slip and fall); and
  • Expert witnesses, who can include health care providers, independent investigators, economist/accountants, and vocational experts.

During each deposition, lawyers will ask the person being deposed questions based on previous statements and documents that were collected and analyzed during a separate process called discovery. Depositions can last anywhere from an hour to all day with breaks. The question is usually not hostile, just aimed at collecting as many details as possible.

Each session is usually recorded on video, and every deposition is transcribed. When witnesses are called to testify in court, they will be asked to confirm, restate, clarify or expand on what they said during their deposition.

Negotiated Settlements After Depositions

Negotiations over what constitutes a fair and adequate settlement for medical expenses, lost wages, and noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering rarely end when a personal injury lawyer files a lawsuit on behalf of their client. In fact, depositions often convince defendants that they will lose in court and will be better served by settling claims.

Offers to settle can be made and accepted right up until jurors return a verdict. Consulting with their personal injury lawyer will help a plaintiff understand if agreeing to terms proposed by the defendant makes sense.

Arbitration and Mediated Settlements

Judges encourage plaintiffs and defendants to pursue alternative dispute resolution processes like arbitration and mediation because doing so shortens the process and usually saves everyone money on attorney’s fee and court costs. During a mediation, a person who is not a judge brings the plaintiff and defendant together in a room to talk through what each considers a fair outcome. If both sides agree to a solution, then they avoid trial. A mediator cannot force either side to accept a particular outcome.

Arbitration is more formal than mediation, and arbitrators are often empowered to decide a case in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. During the arbitration hearing, lawyers for each side present summaries of their best evidence. Limited questioning of witnesses may be allowed. Following the hearing, the arbitrator issues a decision. Grounds for appealing the arbitrator’s decision, if they exist at all, are extremely limited.

Jury Trials After Depositions

A trial will generally be scheduled to start months after depositions are completed. As noted, a witness’s deposition will be key to their testimony in court, but lawyers from each side can ask other questions. Not every person who gives a deposition will be called as a witness, and only the portions of a deposition that a lawyer considers very convincing to jurors will come up at trial.

Personal injury attorneys in the Cleveland, Ohio, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman have decades of experience in conducting depositions, mediations, arbitrations, and jury trials in personal injury cases. Call us at (800) 678-3318 or schedule an appointment online to let us know how we can help you.

Which Injuries Qualify an Ohio Resident for Workers’ Comp Benefits?

At the most basic level, you can apply for the coverage of medical expenses, the partial replacement of lost wages, and other types of workers’ compensation in Ohio if you

  • Work for an employer that participates in the workers’ comp program (as most do) and
  • Suffer a serious physical injury while performing job-related tasks, or
  • Develop a debilitating illness due to exposure to toxic materials while working.

Other rules apply, which we discuss below. If you get hurt while doing something besides working, or if symptoms of a long-term health condition that is not an occupational illness prevent you from working, you will need to apply for short- or long-term disability benefits through a program other than Ohio Workers’ Compensation.

Another thing to consider is that worker’s comp is intended to cover short-term disability. People who are out of work for a year or longer should apply for permanent disability benefits through a program like Social Security,

When Is an Injury or Illness Considered Work-Related and Eligible for Workers’ Comp?

To merit a claim for workers’ comp benefits, an injury or illness

  • MUST have occurred while you were doing something related to your job;
  • MUST have occurred while you were acting within your assigned duties or at the request of, and with the knowledge of, a manager or supervisor;
  • MUST have kept you out of work for at least three days;
  • MUST have required medical treatment;
  • MUST NOT have occurred while you were violating safety rules or regulations;
  • MUST NOT have occurred while you were engaging in horseplay, trespassing or breaking the law; and
  • MUST NOT have occurred while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

You should report a work-related injury or occupational illness to a manager or your human resources representative as soon as possible. Doing that compels your employer to investigate, and the findings from that investigation can be used to support your workers’ comp claim.

Additionally, seek medical care immediately. You will need proof of how serious your injury or illness was in order to secure benefits.

Last, be aware that most employers demand alcohol and drug screenings for anyone involved in a workplace accident. Ohio law allows employers and the workers’ comp program itself to challenge each claim for benefits. Obtaining proof that an employee was drunk or high on the job is one of the surest ways to deny benefits.

What Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Comp in Ohio?

In theory, any work-related injury or occupational illness qualifies you to apply for workers’ compensation benefits in Ohio. Examples of eligible injuries and injuries include, but are not limited to,

  • Injuries suffered in crashes involving company vehicles or while traveling for work
  • Injuries from slips and falls in the workplace
  • Amputations by machinery or tools
  • Burns from heat, fire, or chemicals
  • Injuries from falling objects, including concussions
  • Losing an eye
  • Losing one’s sight
  • Losing one’s sense of smell
  • Losing one’s hearing, even if it returns later
  • Lung diseases and skin conditions from exposure to toxic materials

Workers’ Comp attorneys in the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman have decades of experience in helping Ohio residents claim workers’ comp benefits. We offer free consultations, and we take appointments online. To speak with a lawyer directly, call (800) 678-3318.

Why Your Ohio Workers’ Compensation Claim Could Be Denied?

First, do not panic over a denied workers’ comp claim. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation rejects many first-time applications, and multiple rounds of appeals are built into the process. If the rejections just keep coming, you have the right to take the workers’ comp program to court.

Succeeding with an appeal requires understanding exactly why workers’ comp is not paying. The reason will be stated in the decision letter the program sends you, but knowing why a claim could be denied can reduce the chances of having your application denied in the first place.

Over the many years that we have handled workers’ comp appeals for people in and around Cleveland, Ohio, we’ve most often seen applications for short-term disability benefits denied for one of the following five reasons.

  • The injured or ill worker waited too long to file their claim. Ohio enforces a one-year statute of limitations for submitting workers’ comp claims. Except in very rare circumstances, the clock starts ticking on either the day of a workplace accident or exposure to a toxic substance, or on the day that symptoms from an occupational illness are diagnosed or became debilitating.
  • The worker initially failed to prove that their injury or illness was work-related. Workers’ comp will only cover disabling injuries or illnesses that are incurred while the person is engaged in tasks that are part of their job. Employers often contest this, arguing that the person who filed a claim was off the clock or doing something that was outside of their job description and which their supervisor never authorized.
  • The worker did not need to spend significant time off the job. The Ohio workers’ comp program generally will not approve claims for people who missed fewer than three consecutive days of work. Doctors’ notes and leave requests can clear up questions about time spent off the job.
  • The worker submitted insufficient medical documentation. Each claim for workers’ comp benefits must be supported by medical records, therapy notes, bills for medical care and prescription orders. The more information of this type that an applicant can provide, the more likely they are to have their claim approved.
  • The worker’s employer convinced the workers’ comp program that the worker caused the accident that left them injured or ill. Workers’ comp benefits cannot be approved for individuals who intentionally harmed themselves, suffered harm while trespassing or engaging in illegal activities, acted recklessly, or completely ignored safety procedures. An employer may try to derail a workers’ comp claim by accusing its employee of engaging in one or more of these disqualifying actions.

If you receive a notice that your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, read the letter carefully. It can also help to bring the rejection letter to a knowledgeable and experienced workers’ comp attorney who can further interpret what the supposed problem is. Be aware, however, that you must act quickly. You may have less than a month to inform the workers’ comp program that you intend to appeal and respond directly to the issues raised in the denial of benefits letter.

Workers’ compensation attorneys in the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman welcome opportunities to help fellow Ohioans who have been denied workers’ comp benefits. We offer free consultations, and you can schedule an appointment online. If you would prefer to speak with a lawyer directly, call us at (800) 678-3318.

Can I Speed Up My Social Security Disability Claim in Ohio?

We’re sorry to report that neither we, not anyone else, can reveal one weird trick to speed up your Social Security disability claim in Ohio.

Most initial applications receive a decision after about 90 days. An appealed rejection receives a final ruling after about six months. We cannot change those usual timelines. As attorneys who have decades of combined experience helping people in and around Cleveland successfully navigate the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplement Security Income processes, though, we can offer tips to avoid undue delays.

Apply for the Right Benefits

SSDI benefits and SSI payments are available only to people who have paid into the Social Security system and to legal dependents of people who have paid into Social Security. Additionally, qualifying for SSDI benefits requires suffering from a physical or mental condition that has kept the applicant out of work for at least 12 months or which will probably prove fatal within two years. Qualifying for SSI payments almost always requires qualifying for SSDI benefits.

State and local government employees, state and local police and public safety employees, and public school employees in Ohio do not participate in Social Security. Applying for SSDI and SSI only makes sense for these individuals if they have held jobs outside the public sector. People who have never worked for private employers must apply to a program like the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System to obtain long-term disability benefits and supplemental income. Submitting an application to Social Security when it will automatically be rejected wastes time and effort.

Similar avoidable delays can plague individuals who suffer from short-term disabilities. Injuries or illnesses that keep people off the job for less than a year are best covered by workers’ compensation or private insurance.

Submit a Complete Application

Insufficient evidence for the existence of a Social Security disability-approved condition is the top reason SSDI applications get rejected.

We understand the urge to rush through applying. No one likes doing paperwork, and it is true that no benefits can be approved until an application is submitted. But sending in incomplete medical records or omitting requested forms will result in either an outright rejection or a request for the missing information. Trying to cut corners accomplishes nothing except lengthening the amount of time people go without receiving the federal long-term disability benefits they need.

Prepare to Appeal Quickly

Social Security rejects a large percentage of initial applications for SSDI benefits and SSI payments. Putting a plan in place to appeal as soon as possible cuts down on delays. Such a plan should include reading the rejection letter carefully, identifying the exact reason for the rejection, committing to addressing that specific reason, and filing an appeal within the deadline given in the letter.

Do Not Go It Alone

People who apply for SSDI benefits and SSI payments have undeniable rights to consult with and receive representation from a disability lawyer. Exercising those rights makes it easier to determine eligibility, obtain proof for the existence of a Social Security disability-approved condition, prepare and submit a complete application, and pursue appeals in a timely manner.

If you live in northeast Ohio and could use help dealing with Social Security, consider reaching out to an Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman attorney. We offer free consultations to potential clients, and we can travel to you if your health or other considerations make visiting us in person impractical. You can schedule an appointment online or call us at (800) 678-3318.

Birth Injury Compensation Claim Cleveland, Ohio

What Compensation Is Available for Birth Injuries in Cleveland, Ohio?

Just realizing that you may have grounds for filing a childbirth injury lawsuit in Cleveland will be devasting. Your newborn suffered harm because someone on the labor and delivery team apparently made an avoidable mistake. You know you have legal rights to hold a health care provider and health care facility accountable, but do you really want to add the burden of a fighting through a lengthy birth injury lawsuit to your already overwhelming job of creating the best life for your baby?

Adding to the stress of answering this difficult question, Ohio enforces a one-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims. As a parent, you must decide whether to take legal action against an OB/GYN, nurse, anesthesiologist, clinic, or hospital during the first 12 months of your injured child’s life—the period that is most stressful for all parents and newborns.

Reaching out to a caring personal injury lawyer at Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman can help you determine what is best for you and your baby. One thing to consider is which types of compensation and monetary damages will be available if you file a medical malpractice insurance claim or pursue a civil lawsuit.

Ohio permits parents or guardians who seek birth injury compensation to claim economic and noneconomic damages on behalf of their baby and themselves. For the child, settlements or jury awards can include money for:

  • Past medical care,
  • Ongoing medical care,
  • Physical and occupational therapy,
  • Personal assistance,
  • Medical equipment such as a wheelchair or walker,
  • Loss of lifetime earnings,
  • Disfigurement (e.g., scarring, missing a limb),
  • Physical pain,
  • Emotional suffering,
  • Mental anguish, and
  • “Intangible losses,” which the relevant state statute lists as including, but not limited to, “loss of society, consortium, companionship, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, or education.”

A birth injury attorney can give you the exact definitions of those legal terms for intangible losses. The practical result of losing society and the rest is that the child will not be able to fully or easily enjoy the best things in life, like forming meaningful friendships, excelling in school, or forming a family of his or her own.

Parents or guardians of children who suffer physical or brain injuries during labor and delivery can separately claim compensation and damages for:

  • Expenditures related to securing medical care, therapy, and assistance for the child, including travel and relocation; and
  • Loss of society, consortium, companionship, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, or education.

Meeting with an attorney will let you know if you have a strong claim for birth injury compensation. Cleveland birth injury lawyer will also be able to explain how to collect, organize, and present evidence that supports your case.

If you have additional questions about birth injury compensation and childbirth injury lawsuits in Cleveland, call us at (800) 678-3318 to schedule a free consultation. We also take appointments online, and we welcome opportunities to help families hold negligent health providers and health care facilities to account.

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages in an Ohio Personal Injury Claim

As personal injury attorneys in Cleveland, we use a few different methods to calculate fair and reasonable settlements pain and suffering damages. Before we get into those details, allow us to explain why our clients deserve cash awards for what state law calls “noneconomic losses” from injuries inflicted by traffic accidents, medical malpractice, slips & falls, or defective and dangerous products.

What Are Pain and Suffering Damages in Ohio?

Section 2316.18 of the Ohio revised Code lists pain and suffering as one item in a list of noneconomic losses that can be suffered by accident victims. Other noneconomic losses can include loss of consortium (i.e., sex with a spouse), loss of society (i.e., the ability to make and sustain friendships and family relationships), and loss of protection, advice, guidance, and counsel (i.e., acting as a parent or caregiver).

Even though an exact price tag cannot be attached to something like parenting, becoming unable to do that definitely represents a significant loss. The person or organization who is responsible for causing the loss should certainly be held accountable.

Physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental anguish can trigger the other types of noneconomic losses, but they are also compensable in their own rights. “Compensable” is the word personal injury lawyers use to mean “meriting a monetary award.”

Pain and suffering do not have precise legal definitions. Assessments from health care providers and mental health specialists provide convincing evidence. Testimony from friends, family members, and accident victims themselves also carry weight in establishing the experience of pain and suffering.

Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages in Ohio

Personal injury lawyers have three basic ways to calculate pain and suffering damages:

  • Multiplying economic damages for medical expenses and lost wages by a factor of 3 to 5 that reflects the severity of pain and suffering;
  • Setting a daily, or per diem, pain and suffering rate; or
  • Seeking the maximum pain and suffering award allowable under Ohio law.

The first method works best when an accident victim incurs relatively low economic losses but experiences significant pain and suffering. For instance, medical bills totaling $11,000 could serve as the basis for a $55,000 pain and suffering damages award when the accident victim develops PTSD or a chronic pain syndrome.

The per diem method can work when it appears that settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company intends to drag out settlement negotiations. Waiting for a personal injury case to resolve inflicts its own special kinds of emotional distress and mental stress. Charging the insurer, say, $100 for each day that a negotiated settlement is not reached compensates the accident victim and applies pressure on the insurer to act quickly and in good faith.

The final method of demanding a maximum pain and suffering award is used when a client’s injures are severe and disabling. Except in specific cases, Ohio law caps noneconomic damage awards at $250,000 or three time the total economic damages award. The cap is removed when an injury leaves the victim completely unable to care for themselves, causes the amputation of an arm or leg, or leaves behind major, visible scars.

Most personal injury victims can claim pain and suffering damages. Consulting with an experienced and caring plaintiff’s attorney in the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman will help determine what a fair award would be. To set up an appointment, connect with us online or call (800) 678-3318. The first meeting will cost you nothing.

What Medical Conditions Qualify for Long-Term Disability?

Listing each chronic or potentially fatal health problem that qualifies a person for long-term disability benefits is not possible. Brief examples and general categories of qualify illnesses and injuries appear below.

The most important thing to understand is the long-term component.

Regardless of whether a person seeks long-term disability benefits from Social Security, a private insurance policy or a public sector pension plans like the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), he or she must document that they have been ill or recovering from an injury for at least 12 months. Short-term disability benefits are primarily available through workers’ compensation, health insurance policies, and supplementary insurance policies like Aflac or Unum.

Documenting a long-term disability requires presenting medical records, prescription records, and testimonials from family members or caregivers. Most benefits programs, especially Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and OPERS, also require applicants to undergo employability assessments. SSDI will actually choose a vocational expert to determine how able an applicant for benefits is to perform basic tasks related to his or her past or possible future job. These tasks range from speaking and understanding spoken instructions to standing and lifting.

In addition to preventing an applicant for long-term disability benefits from returning to his or previous job, an illness or injury must also make it impossible for the person to take a different job. The person’s education, trainability, age, and likelihood of actually finding a new job will factor into whether a person who applies for long-term disability will be approved to receive payments from SSDI or OPERS. What Medical Conditions Qualify for Long Term Disability?

Examples of what illnesses qualify for long-term disability include

  • Mesothelioma
  • Silicosis
  • COPD/Emphysema
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • ALS
  • Congestive heart failure

Examples of long-term disability that result from on-the-job accidents include

  • Amputations
  • Blinding
  • Loss of hearing
  • Neck and spine injuries
  • Should injuries
  • Knee and ankle injuries

As for which types of illnesses and injuries that long-term disability programs will consider, SSDI publishes regularly updated lists that are broken out into the following categories:

  • Low birth weight and failure to thrive for children
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Special senses (e.g., sight, hearing, touch) and speech
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Genitourinary disorders
  • Hematological diseases (e.g., leukemia, sickle cell, hemophilia, anemia)
  • Skin disorders
  • Endocrine disorders (e.g., growth disorders, thyroid disorders, kidney disease)
  • Congenital disorders that affect multiple bodily systems (e.g., cerebral palsy)
  • Neurological disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Cancer
  • Immune system disorders

Applicants for SSDI benefits who suffer from a condition that does not yet appear under an SSDI category retain the right to make the case for having their condition recognized as disabling. When invoking that right becomes necessary, partnering with a knowledgeable and experienced long-term disability attorney is essential in order to navigate the appeals process.

No long-term disability program or insurance policy automatically approves claims. Even people who believe their health or physical condition clearly qualifies them for benefits can avoid delays and denials by consulting with a dedicated and understanding long-term disability attorney. To speak with such a lawyer, contact the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portmen.

Our long-term disability attorneys are available to advise and assist individuals and families all across Ohio. You can schedule a free, no-pressure consultation by calling us at (800) 678-3318 or by reaching out to us online.

Know the Time Limit for Filing a Personal Injury Claim After a Car Accident in Cleveland, Ohio

Following a car accident in Cleveland or anywhere else in Ohio, an injured victim has two years from the date of the crash to file insurance claims. A family member or the estate executor for a person who dies in a car crash also has two years to file a wrongful death claim.

The statute of limitations on car accident claims exists to ensure that physical evidence will be retained, reports will be retrievable, and memories will remain reliable. At the same time, giving a car crash victim just 24 months to seek compensation and monetary damages can create challenges.

Even if we were not Cleveland-based personal injury attorneys who devote a considerable portion of our practice to advising and representing car accident victims, we would recommend speaking with a lawyer as soon as is practical following a serious collision. Just knowing your legal options and the relevant deadlines will help you decide how to proceed with recovering financially from the wreck.

Getting into the Details

Here is what state law says specifically about the time limit for filing a personal injury claim after a car accident: “An action for bodily injury or injuring personal property shall be brought within two years after the cause of action accrues.”

What section 2305.10 of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) does not make clear—but which all insurance companies, courts, and lawyers understand—is that the clock on the statute of limitation starts ticking on the day of a car crash and expires exactly 730 days later. Also, taking “an action” only means notifying an auto insurance company that you intend to file a claim. Notice of intent to file a claim can be made long before an official request for compensation and damages is submitted.

Another state statute, O.R.C. 2315,18, clarifies what an injured car accident victim can request. A person who suffers injuries in a crash caused by another driver can file claims for all the following:

  • Wages, salaries, or other compensation the victim loses while recovering from the injury or after becoming permanently disabled;
  • All past, ongoing, and future expenditures for medical care, rehabilitation services, health care products, or accommodations, including emergency care, hospitalization, prescription medications, and long-term care;
  • Other expenditures incurred as a result of the injury except attorney’s fees; and
  • Noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering, disfigurement (e.g., scarring, amputation), mental anguish, and loss of society, consortium, companionship, care, assistance, or attention.

If the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an injured victim may also be able to claim punitive damages, which are assessed by a civil trial jury as a noncriminal fine for reckless behavior.

Not Just Car Accidents

The two-year time limit for filing a personal injury claim applies to all types traffic accidents. Quick legal action is required following any collision with a commercial truck, bus, or motorcycle. The statute of limitations must be met by pedestrians, as well as vehicle passengers.

On a final note, getting injured while driving a company vehicle or traveling for work may give the crash victim grounds for claiming worker’s compensation benefits and for filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver. A one-year statute of limitations will apply to the workers’ comp claim.

You can schedule a free consultation with a car accident victim’s attorney by calling the Cleveland, Ohio, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman at (800) 678-3318. We also make appointments online.

How Will a Personal Injury Settlement Affect my Ohio Workers’ Comp Benefits?

First, understand that you may have grounds for filing a personal injury compensation claim if you get hurt on the job. While Ohio makes it nearly impossible for an employee to sue his or her employer for negligence, you can sue the driver who hit you while you were using a company vehicle or the maker of a defective tool that failed while you were completing a task.

What you cannot do, in most cases, is receive full workers’ compensation benefits and a maximal car insurance or product liability settlement. You will not actually lose any money, but you must know what to expect.

The Rule

If you succeed with what lawyers call a third-party claim, the settlement or jury award you receive on your Cleveland, Ohio, personal injury compensation claim will not reduce your Ohio workers’ compensation benefits. However, the amount paid out on your personal injury claim may be reduced by up to the full amount required to reimburse the workers’ comp program.

This will happen because Ohio recognizes an insurance rule called subrogation. You do not need to know the exact definition of that term. Nor do you need to dive deeply into the details of how subrogation works. Your Cleveland personal injury attorney and workers’ comp advocate will handle it. In fact, at Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman, we take special care to ensure that our clients are not financially harmed by subrogation.

An Example

What you need to know about subrogation is best explained by giving an example.

Say you work as a delivery driver. A car runs a red light and slams into your truck while you are out on your daily rounds.

Your obviously work-related car crash injuries keep you out of work for a month. Between medical expenses and wage replacements, the workers’ comp program pays you a total of $20,000.

You consult with a Cleveland personal injury lawyer and decide to file claims for medical costs to date, lost wages, ongoing physical therapy, and pain and suffering. When your case finally settles, you receive $80,000 from the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy.

The higher car insurance settlement reflects the fact that workers’ comp stops paying medical benefits when you get cleared to return to your job. Also, workers’ comp only replaces two-thirds of your lost wages, and workers’ comp does not compensate people for pain and suffering caused by on-the-job accidents.

Under the subrogation rule, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will get paid back the $20,000 it gave you in benefits. You will still receive $60,000 from the car insurance settlement. The transfer of funds is arranged between the insurance company and the workers’ comp program, so you do not spend anything out of your own pocket.

Help With a Third-Party Claim

Attorneys in the Cleveland, Ohio, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman represent clients with personal injury compensation claims and workers’ comp cases. We offer free consultations and stand ready to help any Ohioan recover the compensation and monetary damages they deserve from the negligent individuals or corporations who harm them. Let us know how we can be assistance to you by calling us at (800) 678-3318 or connecting with us online.

Tips to Help You Succeed with Your Ohio Workers Comp Claim

No “one weird trick” ensures you will win your workers’ compensation claim. Each case is unique, and your employer and the Ohio workers’ comp program will look for almost any excuse to deny benefits.

Still, as Cleveland-based attorneys who have decades of experience with helping people who suffered injuries on the job or who developed occupational illnesses, we are happy to offer several tips on how to win a workers’ compensation claim. Here are seven rules to follow when filing and pursuing claims for replacement wages and coverage of medical expenses.

Focus on Your Workers’ Comp Claim

A couple of laws and state court decisions make it nearly impossible for employees to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against their employers. Some injured or ill workers may be able to pursue what are called third-party claims against a negligent driver or the maker of a defective tool. Let your workers’ comp attorney worry about that possibility. Concentrate on winning your workers’ compensation claim.

Do Not Wait to File

Ohio imposes a one-year statute of limitations on workers’ comp claims. The deadline to request benefits for a work-related injury, illness or death hits exactly 12 months after the date of the workplace accident, diagnosis or loss of life. The workers’ compensation program automatically rejects every application that arrives outside the statute of limitations.

Make Sure You Have Filed an Accident/Incident Report With Your Employer

Winning your workers’ comp claim requires presenting evidence that your disability resulted from doing your job and, also, that you did not harm yourself intentionally or while ignoring safety rules. Filing an accident or incident report with your employer ensures that an investigation will be performed. The findings from that investigation can stand as strong evidence for your right to claim benefits. Note that you are not required to report anything to your employer immediately. After all, you may not be physically able to do so.

Keep All Your Medical Bills and Prescription Slips

Medical evidence goes a long way toward making your case for workers’ comp benefits. At a minimum you need proof that you sought treatment and that the work-related injury or illness kept you from working for weeks or months.

Comply With Doctors’ and Therapists’ Orders

Workers’ comp is designed to tide people over as they recover from a work-related injury or illness. Beneficiaries are expected to return to their jobs and, importantly, do what they can to return. An employer or the workers’ compensation program can cite missed doctor’s appointments, unfilled prescriptions and failure to complete rehabilitation assignments as reasons to deny claims.

Be Prepared to Appel a Denial of Benefits

Do not be shocked or give up if you do not win your workers’ compensation claim the first time you apply. Employers contest claims vigorously, and officials who work for the workers’ comp program have long lists of reasons why they can reject applications. Three rounds of official appeal exist, and injured or ill workers have the legal right to take their claims to court if the regular appeals do not succeed.

At the Very Least, Consult With a Cleveland Workers’ Comp Attorney

Seeking advice and assistance from a lawyer who has helped hundreds of Ohio residents navigate the application and appeals process will give you your best shot at winning your workers’ compensation claim. If you would like to learn what we could do for you, call our Cleveland offices at (800) 678-3318 or connect with us online. The first appointment is free.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Accidents in the Workplace?

This a question with a short, simple answer and a longer, more meaningful answer. We welcome this as an opportunity to give both versions.

Each year, Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) prepares a report titled Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. The most-recent year for which complete data is available is 2016. During that 12-month period, the greatest number of reported workplace accidents involved

  • Overexertion (31.0 percent),
  • Contact with objects (26.8 percent),
  • Falls, slips, trips (26.0 percent),
  • Transportation incidents (6.5 percent), and
  • Violence (5.6 percent).

Simply rattling off the most common causes of accidents in the workplace does little to elucidate the types of injuries workers suffer and why those injuries occur. Fortunately, the workers’ comp report also includes the following information on which injuries workers in Ohio suffered, what happened to inflict injuries, and what the injuries were. Those lists look like this:

Types of Reportable Workplace Injuries in Ohio During 2016

  • Sprains, strains, tears (41.6 percent).
  • Fractures (10.5 percent),
  • Cuts, lacerations (8.2 percent),
  • Soreness and pain (8.0 percent), and
  • Bruises and contusions (7.5 percent).

Sources of Injuries to Workers in Ohio During 2016

  • Floors, walkways, ground surfaces (19.3 percent);
  • Worker’s motion or position (13.6 percent);
  • Containers (12.2 percent);
  • Vehicles (11.7 percent); and
  • Parts and materials (7.5 percent).

Sites of Injuries Suffered by Workers in Ohio During 2016

  • Back (17.8 percent),
  • Hands (13.6 percent).
  • Head (8.1 percent),
  • Shoulder (7.5 percent), and
  • Knee (7.2 percent).

Putting that together produces a profile of the most common type of work-related injury in Ohio being something like a back strain caused by either overexertion or a fall to the ground. In all, 94,500 Ohio workers suffered injuries from accidents in the workplace during 2016, and around 37,000 of those individuals had to miss one or more days of work because of their injury.

But who gets injured at work? For that, it is worth turning to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS), which each year publishes a summary of national occupational injury and illness data.

Looking at reports from 2017, the BLS identified people in the following five occupations as being the most likely to miss days of work after becoming injured on the job.

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers (highest number of missed days)
  • Nursing assistants
  • Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
  • Construction laborers

Rounding out the list of the frequently injured workers, but in no particular order, are janitors and cleaners (excluding maids and housekeepers), general maintenance and repair workers, retail salespersons, registered nurses, stock clerks and order fillers, and light truck or delivery drivers.

No matter what you do or how you get injured at work, if your workplace accident occurs in Ohio, a workers’ compensation attorney with Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman may be able to help. We offer free consultations on all short- and long-term injury cases, and we may even be able to assist a client with filing a personal injury claim in addition to an application for workers’ comp benefits.

Call us at (800) 678-3318 to schedule an appointment, or connect with us online.

Which Medical Conditions Qualify for Long Term Disability?

Before getting into specifics about which medical conditions qualify for long term disability benefits, understand that a long-term disability is generally one that lasts longer than 12 months or which will prove fatal. The condition can be genetic, illness-related, or caused by an injury, but it must limit the person’s ability to work for a living or to care for themselves.

Second, Ohio residents who suffer from health conditions that qualify for long-term disability benefits can receive those benefits from Social Security, private insurance, or a pension plan like the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. Short-term disabilities are best covered by insurance and, when appropriate, workers’ compensation. Consulting with a Cleveland disability attorney will help a disabled person or the disabled person’s family determine which programs can best offer financial assistance.

What Conditions Automatically Qualify You for Disability?

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has the most-publicly accessible information on how it qualifies applicants to receive long-term disability benefits. Regarding which medical conditions count as long-term disabilities, SSDI maintains a frequently updated online list that is divided into the following categories:

  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Special senses and speech
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Genitourinary disorders
  • Hematological disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Congenital Disorders that affect multiple body systems
  • Neurological disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Cancer
  • Immune system disorders
  • Low birthweight and failure to thrive (newborn to 36 months)

In addition to a diagnosis, SSDI considers the results of functional assessments when deciding whether a health condition qualifies as a long-term disability. For adults, the program looks at a benefits applicant’s abilities to:

  • See, hear and speak
  • Perform work activities such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, reaching, handling, stooping and crouching
  • Perform mental tasks like understanding and remembering new information, concentrating on and completing tasks, following instructions and responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and stress
  • Adapt to changes in environmental conditions such as temperature fluctuations and the presence of fumes

The severity of a child’s disability is assessed by the individual’s ability to do things like learn, complete tasks, interact with other people, move and manipulate objects as well as communicate. What Medical Conditions Qualify for Long Term Disability in Ohio?

Retirement plans and insurance companies will apply criteria in different ways, but all long-term disability programs require applicants to provide extensive medical evidence, undergo independent assessments, and supply other forms of proof of disability. Working with a dedicated and caring disability attorney in Cleveland, Ohio, will help an applicant or caregiver gather, organize, and submit all the requested evidence.

Contact us to Qualify for Long Term Disability in Medical Conditions

If you need advice on or assistance with an application for long-term disability benefits, consider contacting Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman. Our disability lawyers can help will all aspects of the application process and represent clients through each stage of appealing a denial of benefits. Set up a free consultation by completing this form or calling (800) 678-3318.

Cleveland OH Workers Comp Lawyer
Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman
6100 Oak Tree Blvd., Suite 200, Cleveland Ohio 44131 USA
Tel: (216) 328-2125 Fax: (614) 221-7308 Map