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Posts tagged "Legal advice"

Underinsured Motorist Insurance for NC Traffic Collision injuries

Underinsured Motorist Insurance for NC Traffic Collision injuries may provide coverage above the North Carolina minimum limits. In North Carolina the minimum insurance limit to drive is thirty thousand dollars per person.  If you have significant injuries or medical expenses that exceed one emergency room visit you may discover that if the defendant has minimum NC automobile insurance limits there may not be enough insurance available to compensate for your damages. Underinsured Motorist Insurance Underinsured Motorist Insurance is insurance above the minimum limits which pays for your compensatory damages when the defendant does not have enough insurance.  Underinsured Motorist Insurance can provide coverage in an amount between $50,000.00 and $1 million.  It is cheaper than liability insurance. You can arbitrate an underinsured motorist claim in NC.  Arbitration is an expedited type of trial to three attorneys rather than a jury.  It is typically cheaper, quicker and more reliable than some jury verdicts.  Finally, as resolving claims with your underinsured motorist carrier is your insurance, there is a first party duty of good faith, which requires your carrier to treat you correctly. If you have a significant claim that may result in a claim above the defendant's limits, call us to discuss what we can do to assist with your claim. what to do in an automobile collision Contact us to discuss your insurance coverage before your involved in an automobile collision or what we can do to assist with your case.

Add Medical Payments, Medpay, Coverage in North Carolina to your Auto Insurance Policy

Add Medical Payments Coverage, known as Medpay, in North Carolina to your Auto Insurance Policy.  Medpay coverage is cheap, no fault coverage that can be purchased to pay for lost wages and medical expenses in North Carolina.  Whether you have health insurance and need to pay for co-pays or have no health insurance medical payments coverage can be very beneficial. Medical Payment Coverage in NC Traffic collisions Some states provide no fault insurance for all automobile collisions.  In North Carolina we are not a no fault state.  Therefore in order to recover Medical Expenses or lost wages you must show that the other person was at fault and that you did not contribute to your own injury.  Medpay coverage is the exception in North Carolina. You can purchase additional coverage from your automobile carrier  called Medical Payment or Medpay that provides, regardless of fault, for reimbursement for medical payments or lost wages.  Even if you are at fault, hit by a deer or hydroplane in a storm, you can use medpay to pay for medical expenses or co-pays if you have medical insurance. If you are hit by another in a traffic collision you can use medpay to pay your medical expenses, pay your lost wages and prescriptions. What to do after an injury in a car crash Medical Payment coverage is sold in North Carolina at levels from $500.00 to $100,000.00.  Talk to your automobile Insurance Agent about adding Medpay coverage. Contact our office to discuss your case or discuss the use of Medpay or other automobile insurance coverage.

Injured Driving for Work? Report as workers' compensation?

Injured while driving for work? Should you report your injury as a workers' compensation injury or simply allow the case to be handled as a personal injury? Often its tricky to know whether to report your automobile accident case as a workers' compensation case as many people are concerned about their employer discriminating against them for getting injured while working.  

What to do after an Injury in a Car Crash in Eastern NC

Car Crash?  Injured?  Just not sure what to do next? Often our clients are just not sure what to do immediately after a car crash.  Injuries and emotions can get in the way of making good decisions.  Therefore, we have created a short check list for you.

Report your North Carolina Workers' Compensation Injury

In North Carolina an injured worker is required to report an injury at work to the North Carolina Industrial Commission within thirty days (30) of your injury and no greater than two (2) years of the date of your injury.  N.C. Gen.Stat. § 97-22. Injuries are reported on a North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 18.  The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) is the state agency that handles all workers' compensation claims, hearings and appeals. To report your claim, report your claim with a Form 18, informing the Industrial Commission and your employer of the nature of your injury, how the injury occurred and when the injury occurred. Why you should file a NCIC form 18 with Susan O'Malley

Coin Sized Button Battery Child Swallowing Danger: Parents Beware!

Button Batteries also known as coin cell batteries create a serious swallowing danger for children.  Unlike a coin, rock or small toy, if a button battery is swallowed by a small child it does not just pass through the body, instead it can cause serious and life threatening burns. Saliva immediately triggers an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours.  Once the burning reaction begins, it can continue even after the battery is removed. Coin battery in child's throat Coin battery in child's throat As batteries get smaller and are found inside remote controls, calculators, birthday cards and other small devices, these coin sized button batteries can be swallowed by children and stuck in the children's throats.  These devices sometimes are not designed correctly and the batteries can be too easily removed by children and then swallowed.  Severe burns, hemorrhaging and even death can result. Youtube: Joe Tunstall discusses the dangers of these batteries In 2010 alone, there were more than 3,400 swallowing cases reported in the U.S., according to Dr. Toby Litovitz, of the National Capital Poison Center. After ingestion of a button battery, the symptoms resemble those of the flu, including vomiting, fever, cough and lack of appetite. Data compiled from the National Poison Data System and the National Battery Ingestion Hotline, as well as a review of more than 8,600 swallowing cases and an analysis of recent medical literature, collectively explained how such accidents happen. In nearly 62 percent of cases, children under 6 are swallowing batteries they obtained directly from a consumer product. Nearly 30 percent find the batteries loose, while just over 8 percent get them from battery packaging. The danger of these coin sized batteries, both alkaline and lithium, is serious and the knowledge of the danger needs to be shared with the parents of all young children. The Battery Controlled is a campaign supported by Energizer, in partnership with Safe Kids Worldwide, to alert parents and other caregivers to the hidden danger of swallowing coin lithium button batteries. Visit their informational website at Battery Controlled or at safe kids button battery ingestion. If your child is injured due to ingestion of a coin sized button battery contact our office to discuss.  O'Malley Tunstall, PLLC or 800 - 755- 1987.

Fundraiser O'Malley Tunstall with Wags 4 Tags 2013 Eat.Bid.Drink

On November 3, 2013 O'Malley Tunstall will help host the Second Annual Wags 4 Tags Eat.Bid.Drink Fundraiser at On The Square Restaurant in Tarboro, NC.  Wags 4 Tags unites rescued dogs from kill shelters and trains them to be companion dogs with psychologically and emotionally impaired Veterans in North Carolina.  Please contact Wags 4 Tags at their website or at [email protected] for more information.  see Wags4Tags Wags 4 Tags is a great organization with an awesome mission statement:

Witness statements and medication side effects must be considered in Social Security Disability Hearings says Federal Judge

Recently Joe Tunstall successfully argued a Social Security case that had been worked on by Susan O'Malley and Amos Waranch in front of  Federal District Court Judge Terrence Boyle who found that an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing Social Security Disability cases must take into account witness statements and medication side effects when deciding permanent restrictions.  Boddie v. Colvin 4:12 CV 221 Judge Boyle determined that the ALJ erred when failing to even discuss the testimony of third parties and explain why the testimony was or was not given weight.  Judge Boyle used a case that Susan O'Malley had argued before him in 2005 called Hines v. Barnhart (upheld by the 4th Circuit) to determine that the vocational expert must be given a hypothetical that clearly sets out all the claimant's impairments and cannot merely "pick and choose" the what information will be asked of the expert. This case is ongoing and could, like Hines v. Barnhart, be appealed by the Government. Personal Injury Attorney -- Joe Tunstall Injury Lawyer -- Joe Tunstall

Evidence in a social security disability, SSI or DIB Claim: Non-treating non-examining physician opinions are not good

Non-treating non-examining physician opinions are not good evidence in a social security disability claim. Social Security Disability Specialist -- Susan O\'Malley In most Social Security disability cases, the Social Security Administration uses medical consultants to review the record and issue opinions about a claimant's functioning at the initial and reconsideration levels of review. These physicians typically do not examine or treat the claimants, and base their opinions upon a review of medical records only. Social Security Disability application is stronger with a good letter from your doctor Federal Courts have ruled that "the opinion of a non-treating, non-examining physician based upon only a review of the record cannot constitute substantial evidence to support a finding of non-disability." Smith v. Schweiker, 795 F.2d 343, 348 (4th Cir. 1986).  A determination by a state agency non-treating non-examining physician can be substantial evidence, but only when it is "consistent with the record." Smith, 795 F.2d at 345 (citing, Kyle v. Cohen, 449 F.2d 489, 492 (4th Cir. 1971)).  More recently, the Eastern District of North Carolina affirmed those rules of law in Mathis by Mathis v. Shalala, 800 F.Supp. 461, 463 (E.D.N.C. 1995).  In general, greater weight is accorded to the opinion of an examining physician than a non-examining physician. Jamerson v. Chater, 112 F.3d 1064, 1066 (9th Cir. 1997); Ortega v. Chater, 933 F.Supp. 1071, 1074 (S.D. Fla. 1996)(citing Lamb v. Bowen, 847 F.2d 698 (11th Cir. 1998)); see also, SSR 96-6p. These laws can be important to your disability case because a non-examining non-treating physician will not know as much about your condition as your doctors. You do not get to discuss your condition with these doctors and they do not get to see how credible your pain or disability is for themselves.  In almost every disability case, these medical consultants review your records and issue opinions. Often, these opinions are the only items of opinion evidence available in a case, and they frequently underestimate the functional effects of a claimant's impairments and symptoms. The Federal Court opinions regarding how much weight a non-treating non-examining physician should be given reaffirm the value of a treating physician opinion to your disability case. When you have applied or are thinking about applying for disability, it is very helpful to talk to your treating doctors, psychiatrists, and other providers about whether they will support your disability application. By getting your treating physician to detail why you are disabled, you provide the judge with opinion evidence that is often contrary to the opinions of the medical consultants. As explained in the law cited above, when there is an opinion that is contrary to the medical consultants opinion, the medical consultants opinion cannot be used as substantial evidence to support a finding of non-disability. If you have any questions about treating source opinions, medical consultant opinions, or anything else regarding Social Security disability, please contact us.

Response to NPR article on Social Security Disability -- Susan O'Malley Board Certified Social Security Disability Specialist

Last month, National Public Radio's (NPR) This American Life and All Things Considered programs ran a story that we feel incorrectly portrayed Social Security Disability as a new American "welfare" program. The story, entitled "Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America," appeared to have a thesis: that the states are trying to improperly move welfare recipients onto the federal disability roles because of budgetary pressures. But when the facts and research did not necessarily line up with that preconceived thesis, the story employed disingenuous logic and dubious use of anecdote over statistics in order to prove that point regardless of the truth.  Unfortunately, a number of blogs and forums picked up on the NPR story and made expanded and unwarranted attacks on the disabled and their advocates. In response, eight former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration wrote an Open Letter disputing the story. In that letter, the former Commissioners responded with detailed statistics to many of the spurious allegations raised in the NPR article. The NPR article made it seem like it was reasonably easy to be granted disability, relying upon anecdotal evidence. For instance, the NPR article makes it seem like a certain Dr. Timberlake in Hale County Alabama had the power to issue a binding recommendation that an individual be adjudicated disabled. Of course, a treating physician's opinion is valuable, but the article is misleading in how the Social Security Administration handles treating physician opinions. Also, the NPR article also makes a dramatic point that "nobody" is "defending the government's decision to deny disability."  That is clearly false.  The Open Letter responds to these dubious allegations in a calculated manner.  First, they point out that disabled individuals are very ill, and that about 1 in 6 die within five years of receiving benefits. Without Social Security disability or SSI, most of these individuals would have essentially no option for sustenance and health care. Something that the NPR story failed to appreciate is that many of these individuals will not receive much in terms of Old Age Retirement Social Security benefits because of their medical conditions. Therefore, it is perfectly fair and morally justified to pay out benefits from the Social Security system earlier in their lifetimes.  The Open Letter then points out the fundamental flaw in the NPR story: the standards for approval for benefits are very strict.  Only about 40 percent of adult Disability and SSI applicants receive benefits after all levels of appeal. Why is that number so low? Because, contrary to the allegation in the NPR piece, there are numerous defenders of the government's decision to deny disability. The local district offices deny the majority of initial applicants, many of whom are ultimately granted disability before an Administrative Law Judge.  The Administrative Law Judges themselves frequently err on the side of caution, i.e. not granting benefits, when adjudicating cases, and then the Appeals Council routinely denies appeals without review. When the disability applicant finally appeals to Federal Court, the first time a non-Social Security employee looks at the application, the government does, in fact, hire a lawyer to defend their position.  The allegation that there is "nobody" defending the government's decision to deny disability is just false. It is instructive to look at this point from another perspective. The NPR story attacks disability advocates for being part of the "disability industrial complex." However, our job would not exist if the disability process was more permissive and fair to applicants. Disability advocates are almost all paid on a contingency fee arrangement, where the advocate collects the fee only when the disabled individual wins his disability case.  A person does not need to hire a disability lawyer until after his initial claim is denied. It then takes over a year to have a hearing before a disability judge.  During that time, the disability advocate will develop the individual's case by helping to collect evidence (like medical records, school records, and doctors' opinions) and then will prepare the individual for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Only after getting an expert advocate to help develop their case, many of these individuals who were initially denied are ultimately granted disability. Without the advocate, they would never get the benefits they need to survive.  In many cases, these benefits were paid for by the claimant's out of their paychecks, and Social Security disability functions as an insurance system.  To attack the advocates is unjust. Finally, the NPR story makes a point about the increase in disability beneficiaries, and attempts to link that increase to unemployment and other economic factors.  The Open Letter from the Commissioner points out that this rise in beneficiaries was "predicted by actuaries as early as 1994 and is mostly the result of two factors: baby boomers entering their high-disability years, and women entering the workforce in large numbers in the 1970s and 1980s so that more are now 'insured' for Disability based on their own prior contributions." The Commissioners correctly point out that the NPR story sensationalized the growth of the disability roles, and fails "to tell the whole story" about Social Security disability.  With an ageing population and higher percentage of the population working through middle-age, there is bound to be an increase in disability. The article ignores these obvious demographic points in favor of a thesis regarding unemployment and welfare, and it badly misses the mark. We here at O'Malley Tunstall are proud of our work on behalf of disabled individuals. The world has dealt a difficult hand to many of our disabled clients, and every day we fight for their benefits that were wrongfully denied.  There will always be challenges with any system of disability adjudication, and there will always be disabled individuals who need expert help managing that system. No matter what, we will stand by the injured, infirm, and the ill to ensure that they get the benefits they deserve. Social Security Disability Specialist -- Susan O\'Malley If you or a loved one has been denied Social Security disability or has questions about the disability process contact us.

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