A St. Louis Car Accident Attorney Can Make Your Life Easier

March 13th, 2012

So you’ve just been injured in a car accident and you have mounting bills, lost wages fr and a lot of worries. There are many reasons for hiring an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer. The first reason is that you want to receive the full value of your claim. Nobody wants to be taken advantage of by an insurance company bully. Insurance companies are in the business to make money, not to make your life easier.
Besides receiving the full value of compensation, there is a lot that goes into properly evaluating a claim. An evaluation of a claim requires that there is complete documentation of all of your damages. Often times it is difficult to obtain full and complete copies of all of the necessary documentation. If you failed to submit some bills, or part of your lost wages, then you will not receive fair compensation for your claim.

In addition, insurance companies often try to convince you that you really aren’t entitled to any money for” pain-and-suffering.” They may want to pay you your medical bills and give you a token settlement in regard to your injuries. Having someone who is experienced as a Missouri car accident lawyer can be reassuring. It saves you the time and effort of having to compile all of your documentation and attempt to analyze your own injuries. In addition, an experienced Missouri car accident attorney will be familiar with jury histories throughout the state. It is important to realize that your claim would be brought in a particular county. Depending on which county your case is in, you must allow for variances in terms of the types of juries that could potentially be chosen. If you are in a conservative “venue” then you may have to adjust your expectations. If you’re in a generous venue, then you may be able to get additional compensation based on the history of juries in a particular area.

There are also numerous technical legal arguments which can be made on both sides. For example, how much do you have in medical bills? Are the bills the full amount that the healthcare provider billed, or is it the amount that it costs in order to satisfy the bill? It is not uncommon to see a bill from a hospital for $10,000 and then see a health insurance payment form indicating that the amount was “paid in full” for $3500. Both the full amount of the bills and the amount that was paid to satisfy the bills are relevant to what you might expect to receive in a potential verdict.

Besides the headaches involved in trying to put together and evaluate your own case, there is still the matter of “stress”. Insurance company adjusters are trained to intimidate people like you. They are experienced in handling claims and they have been taught how to negotiate. Insurance adjusters know that, if you didn’t hired an attorney, you probably have no interest whatsoever in taking your claim to court. They count on this when they are negotiating with you. They know that they can create stress and anxiety by talking about all the hassles that are involved in going any farther with your claim. It is their hope that you will just” take what they have to offer.”

Hiring an experienced St. Louis personal injury attorney can help you cut through this mess. You get the advantage of having someone in your corner who will tell you what to expect. You will have the peace of mind of knowing that an experienced St. Louis personal injury lawyer will be able to negotiate on your behalf. Missouri personal

St Louis Social Security Disability Attorney In News For Local Case: Article by Bill MCClellan-Disabled Womans Case Seems Stuck

June 22nd, 2011
I recently had an article posted about one of my clients.There was no medical proof of her disability when she came into my office.Contrary to the point  made in the article is the fact that a Judge cannot find that someone is disabled because it is “evident” just from their appearance.A judge must have medical proof and must require us to produce it in order to comply with the Social Security Disability Act. The Judge ultimately did find in favor of my client after we were able to develope medical evidence to support the claim.     Jeff Swaney PART I
 

And Some People Think It’s Real Easy To Get On Social Security Disability

From Bill McClellan’s column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 

Marcella Myer, who is 52, was a clumsy child. Not that she remembers it that way. She shook her head when I asked if she ever felt there was something wrong with her. But her mother remembers. “She used to fall in the middle of the floor,” said Delorse Knehans. …

She has lived with her mother her entire life. She never married. After graduating from Lutheran South High School, she worked at a gas station and then in nursing homes. Then she got a job in the warehouse at Famous-Barr, which, of course, became Macy’s. She lost that job in 2008. She told me she just couldn’t keep up anymore.

By that time, Lisa [her niece] had noticed [Marcella’s] condition deteriorating. Her gait was becoming increasingly unsteady. Her speech was slurred. She has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. …

Lisa suggested she apply for Social Security disability. “You just can’t work any more,” she said.

Marcella applied for disability. She was turned down. She had a hearing on that denial in March of this year.

Attorney Jeffrey Swaney was at the Social Security office representing another client when Marcella’s case was called.

“I was sitting in the waiting room when they called her. I knew it was an appeal, and I remember thinking, ‘How could this woman have been denied?’ You could see she was profoundly disabled,” he said.

Later that afternoon, Swaney got a phone call from Lisa. She had seen his ad in the Yellow Pages about Social Security disability claims.

“She said her aunt had just had an appeal and had been denied and she started describing it, and I said, ‘I was sitting right behind you.'”

So Swaney took the case. He said the problem was a lack of medical documentation.

Incidentally, by this time, Marcella had suffered a series of strokes. She had difficulty speaking. She had to use a cane to walk.

A hearing was scheduled for August.

By then, Marcella was in the nursing home. A doctor from the nursing home wrote that she would never be able to return to the second-story condominium. Lisa and Marcella felt confident that Marcella would finally be approved for disability.

The administrative law judge declared there was not enough information upon which to base a decision. He gave Swaney 30 days to gather more information.

Swaney told me he sent in the additional information this past week. He said he felt optimistic.

I visited Marcella on Friday. Because her speech is slurred, Lisa was there to help interpret for me. Marcella said she has gone through her entire savings since she last worked two years ago. After she exhausted her savings, she began living on a credit card. She is about maxed out, she said. …

When I got back to the newspaper, I called Swaney. I said I was surprised the judge needed more medical records. Marcella clearly seemed disabled to me, I said.

“If she’s faking it,” he said, ‘she should be an Academy Award-winning actress.”

 

PART II

Marcella Myer was sitting on her bed in the nursing home when I visited her Wednesday. She looked exactly as she looked when I saw her in September. In fact, she was sitting in the same bed. Nothing had changed.

How could that be?

Marcella is 53. (That has changed. She had a birthday in November.) She is in the Woodland Manor Nursing Center in Arnold, which seems like a nice nursing home. But even a nice nursing home is not a great place for a 53-year-old woman. Truth is, it’s more appropriate for her mother.

That would be Delorse Knehans, who is 85 and lives down the hall.

Marcella has always lived with her mother. She never married. After graduating from Lutheran High School South, she got a job at a gas station and then worked as an aide in nursing homes. Finally, she got a job in the warehouse at Famous-Barr, which, of course, became Macy’s. She lost that job in 2008. She told me she just couldn’t keep up anymore.

Something was wrong. Her niece, Lisa Volner, had noticed a slurring of her speech. Her gait was increasingly unsteady. She went to a doctor who said she had a form of cerebral palsy.

By this time, she was also having problems keeping up at home. She and her mother were renting a second-story condo, and taking care of her mother just got to be too much. So in the summer of 2008, Delorse moved into the nursing home.

Marcella applied for disability. She was turned down. She had a hearing on that denial last March. By that time, she had suffered a series of strokes. She walked with a cane. She could hardly talk.

Attorney Jeffrey Swaney was at the Social Security office with another client when Marcella’s case was called.

“I knew it was an appeal, and I remember thinking, ‘How could this woman have been denied?’ You could see that she was profoundly disabled,” he told me in September when I first wrote about this case.

At any rate, he ended up with the case. A new hearing was scheduled for August.

But in July of last year, on Delorse’s birthday, Marcella and Lisa decided to take Delorse out to dinner. They stopped at a grocery store to buy flowers. Marcella fell. She ended up in the hospital.

After a few days, the hospital decided she should go to a nursing home to recuperate. She went to Woodland Manor to be with her mother.

In August, the administrative law judge said there was not enough information upon which to base a decision. Lisa gathered doctors’ reports and gave them to Swaney. He gave them to the judge.

When I visited in September, everybody seemed confident that a decision would be rendered soon.

I had no question what the decision would be. Marcella could hardly talk. She could hardly walk.

But in November, she was ordered to go to an office on Brentwood Boulevard for a psychological evaluation. The psychologist noted that the medical records indicated “a history of cerebral palsy, spastic paraparesis, and degenerative arthritis with lumbar stenosis, gait disorder/ataxia, stroke, hypertension” and various other maladies.

That’s not enough?

By the way, the psych evaluation said Marcella functions within the “borderline range” of intelligence and has verbal comprehension in the “low average” range.

“Her knowledge of current events was adequate as evidenced by her ability to name the current President and Mayor, but not the Governor.”

The governor? Who can name the governor? We haven’t seen or heard from him in two years. And what does that have to do with disability, anyway?

Obviously, the administrative judge is in no rush to make a decision.

Perhaps you’re thinking that because these decisions are retroactive, time is not of the essence.

But when Marcella went into the hospital and then the nursing home, she put all her furniture – a lifetime’s worth of stuff – in storage. She has gone through her savings. She has maxed out her credit card. Lisa has helped as much as she can. But the storage unit was locked for lack of payments. If it’s not paid by the middle of next month, the contents will be sold at auction.

Furthermore, if Marcella’s disability claim is approved, she is eligible for Medicare. She needs it.

Perhaps most importantly, a nursing home is not an appropriate place for a 53-year-old woman. Michelle Pannier, the director of Social Service at Woodland Manor Nursing Center, told me that she is hopeful of helping Marcella get into some kind of assisted-living arrangement.

Before I left, I went back to say goodbye to Marcella. She was sitting on the bed.

NOTE: Marcella was later approved for Social Security Disabilty benefits.

 

St Louis Injury Attorney Cites Article Regarding Medicare Reimbursements In Personal Injury Cases

June 21st, 2011

It’s unclear what changes the contractor might make and whether it will follow last month’s decision in Haro v. Sebelius, but its temporary suspension of  “rights and responsibilities” letters and demand letters has caused problems for plaintiffs. One attorney notes that an insurance company refused to send a settlement check without Medicare’s demand letter.

By Allison Torres Burtka

After a federal judge in Arizona held that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had overstepped its authority regarding Medicare reimbursement claims in Haro v.Sebelius last month, the Medicare Secondary PayerRecovery Contractor (MSPRC) temporarily stopped issuing “rights and responsibilities” letters and demand letters. It has finished reviewing the rights and responsibilities letter and resumed issuing them on June 10, but it is still reviewing the demand letter.

In the meantime, “there are thousands of injury cases across the country being held hostage” because they don’t have final demand letters, said Jay Vaughn, a trial lawyer in Florence, Kentucky. He noted that he recently settled a case with an insurance company, but it refused to send the settlement check without Medicare’s demand letter.

The suspension also delays conditional payment letters, because MSPRC sends them out 65 days after rights and responsibilities letters. This delay “will affect plaintiff attorneys’ ability to evaluate cases, evaluate settlement for clients, and meaningfully participate in settlement discussions,” said Caitlin Palacios, a Washington, D.C., lawyer.

In Haro, the court enjoined CMS from demanding payment of a Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) reimbursement claim and threatening collection actions before an appeal or waiver request could be resolved. It also said the agency may not demand that attorneys withhold liability proceeds from their clients while a disputed MSP reimbursement claim is pending. (2011 WL 2040219 (D. Ariz. May 9, 2011).)

The plaintiffs included beneficiaries and an attorney representing beneficiaries. Judge David Bury wrote that “the secretary’s application of the 60-day reimbursement requirement to support immediate collection activities against beneficiaries when the reimbursement claim is in dispute is neither rational nor consistent with the statutory scheme providing for waiver and appeal rights.”

The lawyer plaintiff had argued that requiring him to pay incorrect reimbursement claims would create a conflict of interest because doing so would go against his client’s best interests. The court held that no statutory authority supports a direct action against lawyers and that CMS cannot hold them financially responsible for MSP reimbursement if they do not turn their clients’ awards over to Medicare.

The court also certified a class of “persons who are or will be subject to MSP recovery, and from whom defendant has demanded or will demand payment of MSP claims before there have been determinations of the correct amounts through the waiver or appeal process.”

It’s unclear what changes MSPRC might make and whether it will follow Haro, lawyers say.

“The changes should be good for clients and their attorneys who wish to seek waivers and compromises,” Palacios said. “Previously, the demand for payment of disputed funds up front under threat of collection actions–even before the waiver or appeal had been considered–had a chilling effect on those considering seeking waivers and compromises.”

Vaughn said he hopes that any changes will streamline the process. “The Medicare reimbursement process has caused a lot of frustration and confusion among the practicing bar–attorneys on both sides–and insurance companies,” he said. “It shouldn’t be that hard.”

Phoenix lawyer Frank Verderame said Medicare may try to go through Congress to get around the Haro injunction. Meanwhile, he noted, the uncertainty in the MSP process is “creating a hardship for elderly and disabled clients.”

“It’s a chronic problem that’s not going to go away,” he said.

St Louis Social Security Disability Lawyer Cites News Article about the Backlog of Hearings in Missouri

June 20th, 2011

If you have been wondering why it is taking so long for your Social Security Disability Hearing to be scheduled, you should read this article from USA Today.

Backlog grows for Social Security appeals

By Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY

More than 728,000 Americans are awaiting appeal hearings for Social Security disability benefits, a 5% jump in pending cases during the last year, a new report shows.

The increase, partly a result of more disabled persons unable to find jobs during the recession, may make it harder for the Social Security Administration to continue reducing waiting times for benefits rulings, according to the analysis.

“History shows that if this growth is unchecked, as hearing dockets become more and more clogged, wait times will grow,” said the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research organization at Syracuse University that studied the data through March 31.

Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue questioned the significance of the increase in pending appeals, which new data from the agency shows have jumped to 740,998 as of May 27. While TRAC officials said that buttressed their report’s findings, Astrue said the more meaningful measure was the faster processing and decision-issuing times produced by his agency’s improvement efforts.

However, he said it was uncertain whether the agency would meet its goal to reduce the average waiting time for benefits — 367 days on average nationally for October through April — to 270 days by 2013. The TRAC report cites agency statistics that show wait times peaked at an average of 514 days for cases disposed of in federal fiscal year 2008.

“That’s a fair question,” said Astrue, noting that his agency has been hit by federal budget cuts that forced cancellation of plans to open eight additional hearing offices. “I think we will continue to make progress. Whether we will hit the goal on time … I don’t know. I think we will be close.”

The TRAC report examined data from the system that handles applications for Social Security Disability Insurance, which pays benefits to those who show they have long-term injuries that prevent them from working, and Supplemental Security Income, designed for aged, blind or disabled people who have little or no income.

In all, the two programs will account for more than $180 billion in benefit outlays for an estimated 18.3 million people during federal fiscal year 2011, federal data shows.

Applicants first apply to local agencies in their states, who handle initial reviews. Those who are denied twice are entitled to appeal to one of the Social Security Administration’s nearly 1,400 administrative law judges, competitively appointed officials who issue rulings on benefits appeals applications.

The number of pending cases varies from state to state, the TRAC analysis found. Connecticut, Arkansas and Louisiana had the highest percentage declines from March 2010 to March 2011, while Nevada, Georgia and New Mexico had the largest increases during that time.

Ethel Zelenske, government affairs director for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, said the decrease in waiting times is more significant than the increase in pending cases.

“Even though more cases are coming in, they’re deciding cases faster. For someone who’s applying for benefits, that’s the bottom line,” Zelenske said. “The concern is, will the SSA be able to continue the progress that’s been made? And that’s tied to the budget.”

An excellent read from USA Today.  Please call us today for a free consultation regarding your social security disability claim at (314) 481-7778 or on the web at www.swaneylawfirm.com

St. Louis Workers’ Compensation Attorney Notes That The Second Injury Fund Is Suffering A Financial Crisis

June 6th, 2011

The Second Injury Fund in Missouri continues to teeter on the edge of complete insolvency.  Note this excellent article on the subject from Jason Hancock of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Missouri injury fund refusing to pay, heading for insolvency

BY JASON HANCOCK • jhancock@post-dispatch.com > 573-635-6178 | Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 12:21 am | (58) Comments

JEFFERSON CITY Diabetes is something Mark Brumfield has been dealing with since he was 6. And even though it has caused numerous medical problems throughout his life, the Affton resident, 56, has always been able to work.

He was a custodian at St. Catherine Laboure Parish for years, continuing to work even after blisters on his feet got infected and resulted in toe amputations in 2005 and 2007. That all changed in June 2008 after he slipped and broke his hip while preparing to wax the floor of the school.

“I’ve done that job for years with no problem, but that stuff is so slippery, all it takes is one bad step,” Brumfield said.

He was ruled permanently totally disabled and eventually began receiving about $800 a month in disability payments. After three years, he also was awarded a little more than $300 a week out of the state’s Second Injury Fund, which covers certain workplace injuries that aggravate pre-existing disabilities.

But instead of receiving his first check from the state, he got a letter from the attorney general’s office saying Missouri couldn’t afford to make his payments.

“His case has been tried, there was no appeal, and this was a final decision,” said Phil Hess, Brumfield’s lawyer and president-elect of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys. “Yet he’s not being paid.”

Brumfield is among 55 workers who were left permanently disabled after a workplace injury and who are owed money out of the Second Injury Fund — but who are not getting paid.

To keep the fund from becoming insolvent, Attorney General Chris Koster decided in March to withhold paying any new permanent total disability awards. And with 28,000 pending claims against the fund, the number of people owed state money is expected to grow.

Despite warnings from Koster that the fund could go broke by year’s end, lawmakers last month adjourned for the year without passing legislation addressing the problem. Koster said this will likely result in some hard choices in coming months.

“All options involve some party not being paid what’s owed them,” Koster said.

That could mean more permanently disabled workers not getting paid, layoffs in the attorney general’s office or a combination of both, observers say.

“As the fiscal crunch gets deeper and deeper, they’ll start shifting back the people they can’t pay to include individuals who have already started getting checks,” Hess said. “Those folks are at risk of losing their payments, and those folks are terrified.”

FUNDING LAGS

The Second Injury Fund was established after World War II to encourage businesses to hire veterans who returned from the war with some disability but who could still work.

It has been a hot topic in political circles since former Attorney General Bill Webster and a group of St. Louis attorneys were caught up in a federal investigation over misuse of the fund in the early 1990s.

The fund’s solvency has been in question since 2005, when lawmakers placed a cap on its revenue source. Businesses pay a 3 percent surcharge on their workers’ compensation insurance to fund the payouts to injured workers.

That 2005 law was intended, in part, to lower workers’ compensation rates for businesses, and it has been successful in that regard. But because of the 3 percent cap, the funding for the Second Injury Fund hasn’t kept pace with claims made against it.

The fund began the 2006 fiscal year with a nearly $40 million balance. By May 2011, Koster said, the fund had about $7 million — and that’s only because of the $3.5 million being withheld from new permanently disabled workers since March.

“If we paid those and the other payments we need to make, the fund would be under water. Since September 2009, we’ve been paring back where we can just to keep the lights on,” Koster said, referring to his decision in 2009 to stop settling Second Injury Fund cases, sending all claims to litigation.

By year’s end, if all liabilities against the fund are paid, it will be $20 million in the red, Koster said. Also, there are about 28,000 pending claims against the Second Injury Fund, with about 700 new claims filed each month.

Legislation aimed at solving the funding problem won support from groups ranging from the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It would have eliminated the fund and shifted all claims to the Workers’ Compensation System. The cap on the 3 percent surcharge would have been temporarily lifted and allowed to float as needed each year to cover existing claims. That surcharge would have eventually shrunk to zero.

Disagreements in the business community doomed the plan. The Associated Industries of Missouri decried it as “the largest tax and government-imposed cost increase on Missouri employers in Missouri history.”

Richard Moore, director of regulatory affairs for the Missouri Chamber, said calling the change a tax increase is misleading. While the plan would have resulted in higher workers’ compensation costs for businesses, it was still far less expensive than doing nothing.

That’s because of a pending federal lawsuit filed by three disabled workers who fear they are at “imminent risk” of being deprived benefits if the fund becomes insolvent. A fourth plaintiff, who like Brumfield has been awarded payments from the Second Injury Fund but is not getting paid, recently joined the lawsuit.

“By enforcing the cap on the surcharge, which everyone agrees is inadequate, the state is depriving people of their property,” said John Boyd, a Kansas City attorney representing plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit.

The judge in the case could rule the surcharge cap unconstitutional, allowing the state to raise the rate employers pay to a level that is sufficient to cover all liabilities.

Another option, Moore said, would be for the judge to order the state to cover the liabilities regardless of the surcharge, putting taxpayers on the hook for millions.

“I anticipate other people are going to file suit as well,” Moore said. “And ultimately, a judge could decide how the state ends up fixing the problem.”

In addition to the pending lawsuit, Moore fears the attorney general’s office, in an effort to keep making payments, will be forced to lay off employees who defend the fund.

Moore points out that 60 percent of claims against the Second Injury Fund are dismissed and result in no payments. If the attorney general’s office has no one left to handle the cases, people filing claims could “get everything they asked for,” he said.

‘TWO-YEAR BILL’

Koster reiterated that there has been no final decision on how to keep the fund in the black.

Gov. Jay Nixon could call the Legislature back into session this summer to focus on the Second Injury Fund. But Nixon appeared to rule out the idea at a press conference last month when he called proposed fixes a “two-year bill,” meaning one year to educate lawmakers on the problem so that legislation can be passed the next year.

For Mark Brumfield, the situation could be worse. He tried to return to work but found he wasn’t physically able. And poor eyesight, another condition caused by his diabetes, keeps him from moving to a desk job. He currently shares a duplex with his sister, splitting expenses with her and trying to “live cheaply.” He’s in a much better situation than a lot of folks, he said, but he worries about the future.

“Right now, I’m not under financial distress,” he said. “But I want to make sure I can provide for myself down the road.”

You can find out more about the Swaney Law Firm at our website @ www.swaneylawfirm.com

For a Free Consultation Please call (314) 481-7778

Missouri Workmans Compensation Attorney Says Dont Believe Them When They Tell You That Your Carpal Tunnel Isnt Work Related

July 15th, 2010

You work at a job where you perform repetitive work with your hands.Maybe you are a secretary who does alot of typing.Maybe you are a forklift operator,or you are a scanner at a grocery store.Suddenly you begin to notice that your hands have been falling asleep and your grip seems weaker.At first you brush it off,but the symptoms keep getting worse.In time you cant get a good nights sleep because your hands keep you up.It reaches the point that you can no longer ignore it.You eventually see your family doctor who tells you that you have carpal tunnel syndrome.Your doctor asks you what you do for a living and you explain that your job requires you to perform alot of repetitive work with your hands.Your doctor tells you that your condition may be work related.Finally,you report this to your employer and their insurance company sends you to one of their “chosen doctors”.You go the appointment and you are told,”sorry”,but your condition is not related to your work.You are told that it is due to your “age” or it is because you are a “middle-aged woman”. Maybe you are told that it is because you are “overweight” or you are”diabetic”.You are given every reason in the world why your condition isnt work-related.In addition,you are asked about your smoking and drinking habits as well as questions about your hobbies and you are told that your hobbies are causing your condition.In your heart though,you know that your condition is related to your work.Does this sound familiar?..My advice is simple-dont believe them!Insurance companies have lists of doctors that they use to deny carpal tunnel claims.Everyday in my practice,I see these situations arise and we ultimately settle,or win these kinds of claims in court on a routine basis.An attorney will only charge a fee based on a successful result.So there is nothing to loose by contacting a workers compensation attorney to help you.Everyday workers walk away from good claims based on opinions from insurance company doctors who are rewarded handsomely for their opinions.Consequently,it is important to protect yourself by learning your rights. JEFF SWANEYCONTACT AT 314-481-7778

Choosing The Best Injury/Disability Attorney In St Louis For Your Case

June 29th, 2010

How can you choose the best injury attorney in St Louis for your case? First, it is important to understand that there are many different areas of practice.Some attorneys focus their practice on car accident cases.This generally involves alot of negotiations and frequent jury trials.Other attorneys focus on work comp cases and deal with trials in front of work comp judges.Other attorneys focus on Social Security disability claims.This involves hearings in front of social security judges and having a keen understanding of what is needed to document disability.There are also attorneys who focus on complex litigation involving medical malpractice cases and products liability claims.It is important when you contact an attorney to find out how much of his time is spent practicing in the area that you need.Experience is critical to the sucess of your claim.Second,it is important to find out if an attorney is going to personally handle your case,or whether he is going to hand you off to an inexperienced underling.Third,you need to determine if the attorney has a personality that is compatable with yours. It is definitely difficult to work with someone that you dont like.Finally,you need to determine whether the attorney enjoys a good reputation in the legal community.You want someone who is both competent and trustworthy.  JEFF SWANEY  Phone #314-481-7778

Missouri Work Comp Lawyer says that You Cannot Be Legally Fired For Filing Your Claim

November 30th, 2009

Discrimination because of exercising compensation rights prohibited –civil action for damages.

287.780. No employer or agent shall discharge or in any way discriminate against any employee for exercising any of his rights under this chapter. Any employee who has been discharged or discriminated against shall have a civil action for damages against his employer.

(RSMo 1939 § 3725, A.L. 1973 H.B. 79)

Prior revision: 1929 § 3335

(1979) Plaintiff who alleges discharge due to filing of a worker’s compensation claim has burden of proving the cause of action. Henderson v. St. Louis Housing Authority (Mo.), 605 S.W.2d 800.

(1993) The rights and remedies provided by this section are independent of, in addition to, any rights provided by a collective bargaining agreement. Claim for retaliatory discharge under statute is not preempted by federal labor law. Cook v. Hussmann Corp., 852 S.W.2d 342 (Mo. en banc).

(1998) Law does not abolish the “at-will” doctrine but provides a limited exception. Crabtree v. Bugby, 967 S.W.2d 66 (Mo.banc).
The Language in the law is quite clear that an employee cannot be fired for filing a legitimate work injury claim. An employer can fire an employee for just cause or for business reasons.If the real reason for firing an employee is for filing a work injury claim and other reasons are given to mask the true motive,then the firing would be illegal.There can be difficulties with proof ,but this a question which can be decided by a jury in a civil case.Make no mistake about it , however, that firing an injured employee for asserting a work injury claim is definitely contrary to the law and damages can be awarded against an employer for such conduct. SUBMITTED BY JEFF SWANEY 314-481-7778 

 

 

 

 

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St. Louis Social Security Disability Lawyer Cites Efforts To Speed UP Hearings

October 20th, 2009
News Page — SSA to Hire Additional Staff & Open New Hearing Offices
In testimony on April 28, 2009, before the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, SSA updated Congress regarding its plans to use the funds appropriated for fiscal year 2009 and under the stimulus legislation to open new hearing offices and hire additional, desperately needed staff. The stimulus funds ($500 million) will allow SSA to hire more than 2000 additional staff: 39 new ALJs; more than 500 ODAR support staff; 1500 staff for field offices; and 300 DDS disability examiners. When combined with the fiscal year 2009 appropriation, SSA expects to hire more than 7000 new employees, which includes additional staff and replacing vacancies, by September 2009.You can follow SSA’s hiring on its website that reports on its use of the stimulus funds, www.ssa.gov/recovery. The website includes weekly reports that detail SSA activities, including hires for its different components, broken down by SSA region.

At the April 28 hearing, SSA stated its plans to open 13 new ODAR hearing offices in the following locations:

 

  • Phoenix, AZ
  • St. Petersburg, FL
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Atlanta South, GA
  • Danville or Portage, IN
  • Topeka, KS
  • Livonia, MI
  • Mt. Pleasant, MI
  • Fayetteville, NC
  • Akron, OH
  • Toledo, OH
  • Auburn, WA
  • Madison, WI

In March 2009, the Commissioner announced plans for 10 new hearing offices but decided to expand the number to 13. In addition, three new National Hearing Center locations are planned:

 

  • Albuquerque, NM (opened March 2009)
  • Chicago, IL (late fiscal year 2009)
  • Baltimore, MD (early fiscal year 2010)

FREE CONSULTATION JEFF SWANEY 314-481-7777

St. Louis Car Accident Attorney Discusses Pitfalls In Personal Injury Claims That Will Cost You Money

September 24th, 2009

How can you lose money after a car accident? Sometimes we make a mistake in trusting other people to treat us fairly, rather than getting help when we need it. Insurance companies start building a case against you from day 1! Adjusters are taught to believe that everyone involved in a car accident is dishonest ,or at a minimum,is exaggerating the extent their injuries.Yet injury victims assume that they are going to get everything they deserve if they can showthe adjuster that they are a nice person. Adjusters wont tell you that your mistakes will cost you money and keep you from being fairly compensated.After an accident, be sure to contact the police so that a report can be done.Make sure that you get treatment,or atleast get evaluated, when you feel that you may be injured.Do not give a recorded statement right after the accident because you may not realize the extent of your injuries.Also, make sure that you choose a doctor who understands that you have a right to be fairly compensated for your injuries and who will be cooperative in documenting your injuries.Finally, do not discuss settlement of your claim until you are finished with your treatment.   CONTACT JEFF SWANEY AT  314-481-7778  FOR A FREE CONSULTATION