lgbt ringsEach applicant who seeks Social Security benefits faces his or her own set of unique challenges. Those challenges can be especially substantial when the applicant is seeking survivor’s benefits and the applicant’s spouse was a person of the same sex as the applicant. Recent changes in caselaw have helped the cause of same-sex spouses but, as one Pennsylvania widower’s case demonstrated, success may still require diligence and determination. To make sure you get the benefits to which you are entitled, retain an experienced Pennsylvania Social Security attorney.

The widower, J., entered into a committed, exclusive, lifetime relationship with B. in the summer of 1990. Of course, because they were a same-sex couple and it was 1990, they did not have the option of marrying. The men lived together as committed partners from 1990 until late 2015, when Bernard passed away. Shortly before Bernard died, a federal court in Pennsylvania invalidated the state’s ban on same-sex marriages and the couple wed.

After B. passed, J. applied for Social Security benefits, including widower’s insurance benefits based upon his marriage to B.. In his application for benefits, John stated that he and B. had shared a common-law marriage dating back to 1990. The Social Security Administration, however, did not grant the application and did not award widower’s benefits to J.

In any medical negligence action, almost any type of evidence has the potential to “move the needle” either in your favor or in your opponent’s favor. That’s why it is so important to have diligent and knowledgeable Pennsylvania injury counsel on your side who will know how to fight to get in all of your evidence and keep out as much improper, harmful evidence as

A recent case from Pittsburgh was an example of how this battle over evidence admissibility can make or break a case. The origin of the case was L.M.’s entrance into a Pittsburgh hospital to undergo a hysterectomy. The procedure was a laparoscopic technique, which means that the provider performs the operation through small incisions made in the body. In L.M.’s case, after making one of those incisions, her doctor smelled feces and became concerned that he had perforated her bowel. The doctor ceased doing the hysterectomy and consulted a general surgeon. That surgeon performed surgery on the bowel, which had been cut nearly in half. L.M. was forced to use a colostomy bag for a while after the procedure.

The patient filed a medical negligence action. In L.M.’s trial, that battle over admitting evidence centered on proof related to what the patient knew as far as the complications of a laparoscopic hysterectomy. The defense wanted to present evidence that a “bowel injury” was a risk of the procedure and that L.M. knew this fact. The patient preferred to exclude that evidence, since it might tend to weaken her overall case with the jury.

It is very possible that you may not know exactly what a judge means when he or she refers to an “error of law” in a legal ruling. Frankly, for most folks, there’s no reason why you should. What you should know, however, is that there are many details that can make or break your case, or make or break your opportunity to get a new hearing of your claim. That is true in many areas, including workers’ compensation. To make sure you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve, be sure you have a skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney on your injury

As an example of how the process can work, look at the recent case of K.H.B. While K.H.B. was working at her job as a director of operations, she suffered a spinal injury. That injury required lumbar spinal fusion surgery. K.H.B. began receiving workers’ compensation benefits, but, in 2014, the employer sought to cut off those benefits. The employer succeeded, and K.H.B. returned to work.

In March 2015, the employee hurt her back again. She promptly filed a request to reinstate her benefits. This time, the judge rejected her claim. The judge concluded that K.H.B. had not sufficiently proved that she suffered a new work injury. The employee appealed but was not successful at first. She eventually took her case all the way to the Commonwealth Court, where she was able to obtain a new hearing.

workers compWhen you receive a decision from the workers’ compensation judge in your benefits case that is unfavorable, it is important to know how to proceed. The law may provide you with certain avenues to continue your efforts to obtain benefits, including appealing the decision made by the workers’ compensation judge. Prompt action is necessary if you decide to appeal, however. The statute of limitations only allows you a limited time period in which to file your appeal. If you file after the deadline, you may lose regardless of the strength of your arguments. A skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can handle your case and ensure that all of your filings are submitted in a timely fashion.

An example of just how serious even small degrees of tardiness can be is the recent case of V.S. V.S. worked in the concrete business, removing molds from concrete pieces after those pieces were cast. In December 2015, the worker allegedly hurt her back while on the job. Four weeks after her injury, she filed a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits. At the woman’s benefits hearing, a doctor testified that the woman did not suffer a workplace injury and could continue working without any restrictions. The worker’s doctor, however, asserted that an injury had taken place and that the woman needed certain restrictions.

The workers’ compensation judge assigned to the woman’s case concluded that the worker hadn’t suffered a traumatic work injury, but merely sustained a back strain/sprain based on “the repetitive physical activities in her work” and had fully recovered within less than five months.

Social Security Disability law can involve many steps. The pursuit of your benefits will involve an application, probably a hearing, and perhaps more processes after that. At every step, it is extremely valuable and perhaps make-or-break to have someone on your side who knows the disability legal system in complete detail. To get the benefits you deserve, be sure you have a knowledgeable Pennsylvania Social Security Disability attorney on your side.Social Security Disability

Here’s a real-life example. Y.W. (Western District of Pennsylvania Case No. 17-804) was a woman going through the process of obtaining Social Security Disability benefits. The woman contended that she was entitled to benefits based upon several mental and physical problems, some of which were results of an auto accident.

Y.W.’s claim was not successful at first. The administrative law judge, after looking at the evidence, concluded that the woman was able to do work that existed in sufficient numbers. That’s very important because, in order for you to meet the definition of “disabled” and qualify for benefits, the ALJ must decide that, not only do your impairments prevent you from doing your old job, but also they prevent you from doing any job that exists in substantial numbers in the national economy and for which you qualify, considering your age, education, and work experience. There is no black-and-white number for what does or does not constitute “significant numbers.”

time costIn many cases of medical misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to pursue compensation based upon a claim that the medical providers who erred (and injured you as a result) were negligent. However, in some more extreme cases, you may be able to pursue other bases for compensation, and those bases may allow you to obtain additional forms of compensation. For example, a case involving more extreme forms of wrongful action or inaction may permit you to pursue a case for recklessness and that may allow you to seek punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. A knowledgeable Pennsylvania injury attorney can help you to assess your options.

One recent case from the federal courts provided an example of how an injured patient might be entitled to punitive damages. G.G. was a teen attending a summer camp in northeastern Pennsylvania when he became ill. He complained of upset stomach, pain, vomiting and a fever. The camp nurses concluded he had the flu and kept him in the infirmary. Three days later, the camp director took the boy to an “urgent care” facility. Medical providers there immediately sent the boy to a local ER. At the hospital, providers discovered that the boy had a perforated appendix and that appendix problem had caused sepsis. The boy received IV antibiotics for nearly two months before he was well enough to undergo surgery to take out the appendix. The boy reported experiencing abdominal pain for another month after the surgery.

G.G.’s was a case where the parents sought an award of punitive damages. That meant they had to have proof of recklessness. In order to have a valid claim for recklessness, you have to show one of a couple of things. This list includes “evil motive” or reckless disregard. In G.G.’s case, the parents’ evidence of the camp’s failure to address the child’s illness more aggressively was sufficient to persuade the court that they had shown a viable claim that the camp staff was recklessly indifferent to the boy’s illness.

Legal News GavelIf you have suffered an injury at work that has left you disabled (and unable to work), even if that disability is only temporary, it is undeniably a stressful time for you. You may reasonably be concerned about continuing your career and continuing to earn an income. An award of workers’ compensation benefits may be an important aid. You workers’ compensation case, then, is obviously very important to you, so make certain you have an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney on your side.

There are many things that go into a successful workers’ compensation claim hearing, and with which your worker’s compensation attorney can help. Take the case of Steen. Steen was a skilled craftsman who performed carpentry, flooring, and plumbing work for his employer. One day, while using a sawzall with a six-inch blade to cut floor joists, the blade pinched, jumped, and hit the worker’s right knee. Although Steen originally addressed the wound with a first aid kit, he later began experiencing great pain and eventually ended up in the hospital, where he underwent surgery on the knee.

The craftsman filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. In many workers’ compensation cases, much of the evidence that the judge will have with which to decide your claim will come from doctors – both yours and those retained by the employer. Achieving a successful result can often depend on getting medical evidence that is sufficient…and sufficiently persuasive.

Legal News GavelWhen you suffer an injury at work, it is stressful and unsettling. You may be concerned about your future income if your injury has left you unable to work. It is important to understand that there are options out there. Your workplace injury may entitle you to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Some people may be entitled to select “Heart and Lung Act” benefits instead of workers’ compensation. Still others may be allowed by the law both to obtain Heart and Lung benefits and also an award of damages from a civil lawsuit. Each different avenue for getting the financial recovery you need will depend on the specific facts of your case. Make sure you know what all of your options are by talking to an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney.

One example of how this works was the case of E.T. E.T. was a police officer for the City of Philadelphia. While on duty one day in May 2009, she suffered serious injuries in a vehicle accident. The employee accepted what’s known as “Heart and Lung Act” benefits in lieu of workers’ compensation benefits. The employer paid her almost $15,800 in Heart and Lung salary continuance benefits and an additional $8,300 in medical benefits.

Along the way, E.T. decided to sue the people responsible for the auto accident that injured her. The case went to arbitration and the arbitrator awarded E.T. $71,000 in damages. After E.T. won her arbitration, her employer went back to the workers’ compensation judge and asked for reimbursement.

Legal News GavelGoing through the process of seeking Social Security disability benefits can seem hopelessly overwhelming. With so many forms and supporting documents and other requirements, it may seem like an impossible hill to climb. The reality is, though, that your case may be far from hopeless. Even if you have a strong case, you may need the skill and experience of a knowledgeable Pennsylvania disability attorney to get you where you need to be and receive the benefits you deserve.

A Pittsburgh area woman’s recent case provided some important reminders about how to take on a disability case. D.B. alleged that she suffered from auditory and visual hallucinations that left her unable to work. D.B. sought treatment from a psychiatrist in Cranberry Township. She also visited a counselor.

When the time came for her hearing, she, through her legal counsel, offered evidence of the various hallucinations. She also presented testimony from both her psychiatrist and her counselor. Despite all this evidence, the administrative law judge ruled against her, denying her benefits entirely.

Legal News GavelUnfortunately, fatal workplace accidents not only cause massive emotional harm to the loved ones left behind, they can sometimes also set off an entire series of legal consequences. Your time and energy is best spent on your family. Leave the legal concerns to the experienced professionals by retaining a skilled Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney.

An example of the multi-faceted set of legal consequences arising from a catastrophic workplace accident is the case of R.B., a 55-year-old mechanic from just east of Pittsburgh. One day, R.B. was performing maintenance on a paving roller when the machine lurched, pinning him underneath. The mechanic was crushed and died at the scene.

One thing that a fatal workplace accident may trigger is the need to file a workers’ compensation claim. R.B.’s widow received more than $100,000 in workers’ compensation death benefits after the roller accident. Another thing that may be triggered by an accident like this is a civil lawsuit. Sometimes, the law may allow the pursuit of both workers’ compensation benefits and civil damages. In this case, the widow sued the roller’s manufacturer and another firm. The case settled with the manufacturer agreeing to pay $475,000 and the second defendant paying $425,000.