• Will Noah’s Law Affect You?

    DUI laws often change, but a lawyer in Baltimore can inform you of any legal changes that could affect the outcome of your drunk driving case —such as Noah’s Law. As this featured video explains, Noah’s Law was named in honor of police officer Noah Leotta, who was struck and killed by an impaired driver in 2015. Noah’s Law went into effect in October 2016.

    The law sets stricter penalties for individuals convicted of DUI. For a first-time offense, they are required to use an ignition interlock device for six months. A second offense results in one year, and three offenses or more result in three years. Noah’s Law also increases the amount of time drivers will have their licenses suspended for impaired driving.

  • I Was Injured During My Commute. Can I Get Workers’ Comp?

    Workers’ comp law in Baltimore allows injured employees access to financial benefits if they are hurt while on the job, accrue medical expenses, and lose wages. It does have some limitations, however. Employees are only covered under workers’ comp if their injury or illness was directly related to the workplace or duties of the job. This means that most employees who are injured during their daily commute to work aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation. There are exceptions to this, however, so it’s in your best interests to consult an attorney.

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    Going and Coming Rule

    Maryland’s “going and coming” rule limits workers’ comp eligibility. It states that workers cannot qualify for benefits if they were injured while going to or coming from work. This rule presumes that you are responsible for ensuring your own safety while traveling. However, there are a few exceptions.

    Premises Exception

    One notable example of the premises exception is a Maryland woman who won her claim for benefits after she was injured in her employer’s parking lot, while walking to the employee entrance. The court determined that, because the employee was on employer property, she was covered, even though she hadn’t started work yet.

    Proximity Exception

    Even if you were injured off-site, next to your employer’s property, you may still be eligible for benefits under the proximity exception. Two elements must be present to qualify:

    • The off-site area contains a special hazard (such as icy sidewalks).
    • The route from the off-site location to the employer’s property is closely associated with the employer.

    The second requirement can be tricky to meet. It’s fulfilled when an employer directs employees to use that off-site location, or when the employer knows employees use it, and acquiesce to it. For example, Gerald is a fictitious worker who leaves his job and walks toward the employer-provided parking lot. To get there, he takes a shortcut along the railroad tracks, where he is struck by a train. The employer is aware that workers take this shortcut. Gerald would be covered, since there is clearly a hazard, and the shortcut is strongly associated with the employer’s property.

    Employer-Provided Transportation Exception

    Some employers contract with transportation companies to provide free or fee-based transportation to their workers. If you were injured on a shuttle bus provided by your employer, you could be eligible for benefits.

  • How the SSA Reviews Medical Evidence

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) is legally required to have medical evidence of an eligible impairment before granting benefits to a claimant. Proving the existence of a qualifying impairment can be a long and complex process. Talk to an attorney in Baltimore who handles disability claims to avoid costly mistakes in the application process. For a thorough introduction to medical evidence, watch this featured video.

    These SSA representatives explain what claimants can expect from the evaluation of medical evidence for physical and mental health impairments. You’ll learn how the state agency reviews information provided by the field office. This information includes medical records, lab test results, doctor’s notes, and treatments. If the state agency doesn’t have enough evidence to make a final determination, the claimant may be required to have another medical exam. The doctor who performs the exam must then submit a medical source statement, which is a professional opinion about the claimant’s functional capacity.

  • Property Damage Claims: What Car Crash Survivors Need to Know

    After surviving a car accident, residents of the Baltimore area will have plenty of paperwork to deal with. Hiring an injury attorney is an effective strategy to ensure you get every cent you’re entitled to. Even if you don’t file a lawsuit, your lawyer can coordinate your property damage claim, and tell you if the insurance company isn’t offering a fair settlement. Before filing the paperwork, you’ll need to assess the total value of your losses .

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    Car Accessories

    Your car will likely be the greatest financial loss, especially if it was declared a total loss. The loss of your car is covered under the auto damage portion of the claim. It includes damage to any items that are considered part of the car, such as your car stereo. Non-auto property damage is listed separately, and it can include car accessories like a GPS system, spare tire, or child safety seat. Know that child safety experts recommend replacing child safety seats after each moderate to severe accident—even if the seat doesn’t show signs of damage.

    Wearable Items

    The items you’re wearing at the time of the car accident can be surprisingly valuable. Even if you weren’t wearing designer clothes that sustained damage, you may have been wearing eyeglasses, a hearing aid, or dentures. If you need to repair or replace these items, you can request compensation for them.

    Personal Belongings

    Anything you tossed on the passenger seat or backseat can become airborne during a car accident. Since personal belongings like laptops weren’t designed to survive a short flight, they’ve likely sustained damage. Before filing your claim, carefully check for damage to items like cameras and cellphones.

    Documented Evidence

    Your lawyer will ask you for evidence of the damage. Photos will typically suffice. If the damage isn’t visibly apparent, you may need to take the item to an expert. For example, a computer repair specialist could provide a notarized statement to prove that your laptop is no longer functional. Items that are difficult to put a price on may need to be professionally appraised.

  • What Is the Positional-Risk Test for Workers’ Comp?

    States establish their own workers’ comp laws . Workers in Baltimore, Maryland can file a workers’ compensation claim if they meet the criteria of the positional-risk test. This test determines whether an injury was directly caused by the job. In short, it’s a “but for” test, meaning that an injury qualifies if the worker would not have received the injury, but for the obligations and conditions of employment. This means that a person could receive workers’ comp benefits even if the injury was sustained during incidental activities, such as a lunch break.

    In the past, Maryland courts have used the positional-risk test to define generous boundaries for workers’ compensation coverage. One notable case involved the death of a worker who had borrowed his employer’s welding equipment to make some non-work-related auto repairs. The court determined that the family was entitled to benefits because, had it not been for the worker’s employment, he wouldn’t have had access to the malfunctioning equipment that caused his death by electrocution.

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  • Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim After Someone Runs Over My Dog?

    Pets are regarded as property in the eyes of the law. For years, pet parents have been distressed to find that their options for legal recourse do not sufficiently reflect the significant, long-lasting emotional trauma of losing a pet to someone else’s negligence. Some states have slowly begun to change this approach, including Maryland. If you live in Baltimore, you can talk to an accident attorney to find out if you could file a lawsuit against the person who caused the car accident that killed your dog.

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    Consulting an Injury Lawyer

    The sudden loss of a beloved member of the family can interfere with your clarity of thought. As difficult as it is to discuss the event, you do need to see a lawyer promptly. He or she will review your case and evaluate the value of the claim. Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to settle the case out of court. Your attorney can contact the negligent driver or the insurance carrier to explain the monetary value of your loss, and offer to settle the case instead of filing a lawsuit. If compensation isn’t forthcoming, you can take legal action.

    Filing a Lawsuit

    You can only sue for wrongful death if a human was killed. However, you can still file a civil lawsuit against the person who killed your pet. Your lawyer will present evidence to prove that the defendant’s negligence directly caused the car accident that killed your dog. Once the defendant is served with the paperwork, it’s quite possible that he or she will be more willing to settle the case out of court.

    Assessing Damages

    A key component of any lawsuit is the assessment of damages. In many jurisdictions, dog owners are limited in the amount of compensation they can recover. A court will typically award the amount the dog would cost, plus related veterinary bills. The following factors may play a role in determining the dog’s value.

    • Purchase price
    • Breed
    • Training
    • Age
    • Health (prior to the car accident)
    • Special characteristics of value
    • Usefulness

    If the dog was a champion show dog, a service dog, or specially trained law enforcement dog, the value would increase. Recently, Maryland courts have ruled in favor of allowing bereaved puppy parents to secure compensation for their emotional distress. Claims of mental anguish can be substantiated by records that show you sought mental health counseling in the wake of the death.

  • Horseplay in the Workplace: A Look at Workers’ Comp

    Employees in Baltimore can rely on workers’ comp law to protect them in the event of a job-related injury or illness. However, there are a few gray areas, such as injuries that result from horseplay in the workplace. Because of the risk that your claim would be denied, you should contact a workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible after becoming injured in a horseplay-related incident.

    Watch this video to hear more about applicable workers’ comp issues. You’ll learn that multiple factors may be considered before denying or approving the claim, such as the nature of the injuries, the role of the injured worker in the incident, and the history and culture of the workplace. If your workers’ comp claim is denied based on willful misconduct, your attorney may file an appeal. Another alternative is filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other employees.

  • Steps to Take When You Get Injured at Work

    Employees have rights, but sometimes their inaction can cause those rights to be forfeited. One example is workers’ comp claims. In Baltimore, workers’ comp law allows for the rejection of claims if they are filed past a certain deadline. You can protect your rights by acting quickly. As soon as a work-related injury occurs, you should notify your supervisor that you must leave work to seek medical attention . You have the right to visit a doctor of your choosing. It isn’t necessary to restrict your medical care to employer-approved doctors.

    At the hospital, inform every healthcare provider who evaluates and treats you that your injury is work-related. Ask that your medical records reflect this fact. Save all documents pertaining to your medical care, including co-pay receipts and discharge instructions. You should file a formal workers’ comp insurance claim soon after receiving medical care. Then, call a lawyer who can effectively advocate on your behalf. Your attorney can help you receive all the benefits you’re entitled to, and appeal your claim if necessary.

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  • A Family’s Guide to Post-Accident PTSD

    Although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is strongly associated with combat veterans, people of all ages and backgrounds can develop it—including residents of the Baltimore area who have been involved in car accidents . PTSD is a serious mental health disorder that warrants the attention of a medical professional. Since behavioral healthcare services can be expensive, and aren’t always covered by insurance, your family may decide to talk to an injury lawyer about the merits of seeking compensation from the at-fault party.

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    Understanding PTSD

    Unlike many mental health disorders, PTSD has an identifiable cause. It always stems from exposure to a traumatic, frightening, or dangerous event, such as the following:

    • Being in a war zone
    • Experiencing the death of a loved one
    • Seeing a dead body
    • Surviving a major car accident
    • Being trapped in a car after an accident

    The symptoms of PTSD linger well beyond the event itself, and they can last past the time it takes the person to physically recover. PTSD does not indicate any character flaws or lack of willpower. It isn’t possibly to simply “snap out of it.” PTSD is a real medical condition that requires expert treatment.

    Recognizing PTSD

    The signs and symptoms of PTSD can be chronic or short-lived, and not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Usually, symptoms begin within three months of the event. The signs of PTSD are grouped into categories. An official diagnosis requires the individual to experience the following for at least one month:

    • One or more re-experiencing symptoms
    • One or more avoidance symptoms
    • Two or more cognition and mood symptoms
    • Two or more arousal and reactivity symptoms

    Re-experiencing symptoms are those that involve reliving the trauma. They include flashbacks, nightmares, and frightening thoughts that are impossible to control. Avoidance symptoms occur when the person tries to avoid places, objects, or activities that remind him or her of the event. For example, a car crash survivor might become incapable of getting in a car. Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:

    • Angry outbursts
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Feeling tense

    Lastly, cognition and mood symptoms include:

    • Memory loss
    • Negative thought patterns
    • Withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities

    Getting Treatment for PTSD

    Treatment is best begun as soon as possible. After a loved one survives a car accident, families should be alert to the potential signs of PTSD. Its treatment is usually a combination of medications, such as antidepressants, and psychotherapy.

  • Is HIV/AIDS a Qualifying Condition for Social Security Disability Payments?

    Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a chronic, incurable disease that attacks the immune system. This leaves patients vulnerable to other serious infections and diseases. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the end stage of HIV infection. Because HIV can take years to progress, patients might not qualify for Social Security disability benefits for a while. A lawyer in Baltimore who handles Social Security disability claims can provide personalized guidance based on the factors that are unique to each case.

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    When HIV/AIDS Qualifies for Disability Benefits

    The primary infection results in acute, flu-like symptoms that typically last no longer than a few weeks. After this point, the patient enters the clinical latent infection stage, also known as chronic HIV. If the patient does not take HIV medications, the stage may last 10 years before progressing to AIDS. With medications, it may take a few decades before reaching the end stage. During the chronic HIV stage, patients often experience few to no symptoms. This means they might not be classified as disabled. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits before HIV progresses to AIDS, patients must prove that they have one or more “opportunistic” illnesses that arise as a result of the suppressed immune system.

    How to Prove Disability

    HIV/AIDS patients must first prove that they were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. This is easily accomplished via medical records. The next step is more complex. It involves sorting through the Social Security Administration’s “blue book,” or listing of official disability requirements. Patients would be well advised to consult a lawyer about these requirements before filing a claim. Here’s a brief, incomplete overview of the requirements:

    • Bacterial infection, including multiple infections that required hospitalization
    • Viral infection, including treatment-resistant shingles
    • Fungal infection, including pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis fungi
    • Protozoan or helminthic infection, including toxoplasmosis
    • Cancer
    • Skin or mucous membrane condition, including treatment-resistant lesions
    • HIV encephalopathy with brain swelling that causes cognitive/physical impairment
    • HIV wasting syndrome, with loss of 10% or more body weight
    • Diarrhea that requires intravenous hydration

    Other illnesses can qualify. Consult a lawyer for further guidance.

    How to Qualify Based on Limited Functional Capacity

    Even if patients do not qualify under the disability listing, they may qualify for benefits based on their limited functional capacity. A residual functional capacity (RFC) rating determines whether a person can perform sedentary, light, or medium work. The SSA will probably consider a person disabled if he or she lacks job skills and higher education, and can only perform sedentary work.