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Huntsville Personal Injury Law Blog

Examining the SSA’s evidentiary requirements for disability

If a workplace accident leaves you unable to return to any sort of career, your first option to cover the medical and rehabilitative expenses related to your injuries may be workers’ compensation benefits. Yet we at The Law Firm of Johnston, Moore, and Thompson often find that many believe any benefits they are entitled to end there. What those people fail to realize is that Social Security Disability benefits are, in essence, an extension of workers’ compensation. However, you may only qualify for these benefits after the Social Security Administration’s own evidentiary requirements have been met.

These requirements are listed in conjunction with the impairments that they are specifically associated with. The qualification criteria must be verified by an acceptable medical source as determined by the SSA. According to the SSA’s website, these sources may include:

  •          Your primary care physician, or any other qualified doctor of medicine or osteopathy
  •          A psychologist
  •          An optometrist (specifically for issues with visual acuity)
  •          A speech pathologist (specifically for language impairments)
  •          A podiatrist (specifically for issues related to the feet and ankles)

Linking dementia to head trauma

Most in Madison may only view dementia as a degenerative brain disorder that comes with advancing age. Associating it with an accident which causes a head injury may not seem intuitive, given that the onset of dementia is not considered to be an acute event. However, the website EMedicineHealth.com lists head injuries as the third leading cause of dementia in people under the age of 50.

The word “dementia” itself does not describe a particular disease, but rather a range of conditions that contribute to one losing his or her mental abilities to the point of interfering with his or her daily life. Some of the more common forms of dementia include:

  •          Alzheimer’s
  •          Dementia with Lewy bodies
  •          Huntington’s disease
  •          Parkinson’s disease
  •          Vascular dementia (post-stroke dementia)
  •          Mixed dementia (symptoms associated with multiple forms of dementia)

What is the attractive nuisance doctrine?

Summertime in Madison means the local kids are out of school, which may also translate to more of them being outside getting into mischief. With the added free time that summer brings also may come more chances for younger children to indulge their curiosities through exploration. What if that curiosity attracts them to places where they could be injured or even killed? Examples of such places may be swimming pools, construction sites, or animal pens. If your young child was killed after wandering into such an area, do you have any legal recourse against the property owner?

According to the Legal Information Institute, a property owner may held liable for the death of your child if his or her death was caused by a dangerous condition on the property that the owner could reasonably assume would attract a child’s interest. This principle is known as the “attractive nuisance” doctrine, and it establishes the legal assumption that children do not comprehend the risk that a dangerous condition may present.

Connecting respondeat superior to car accidents

When car accidents occur in Madison, the subsequent compensation process may seem by most to be fairly routine. However, there are several factors that can slow or even derail one’s quest to have his or her accident expenses covered following an accident. One of the more common problems occurs is when the driver who was at fault was working when he or she caused the accident. The question then becomes who should be held responsible: the driver or his or her employer?

The legal principle of respondeat superior, as shared by the Legal Information Institute, states that an employer may be held legally liable for any wrongful acts committed by his or her employee, provided those acts occurred within the scope of the employee’s job duties. While this may seem to be fairly straightforward, confusion may arise over the exact interpretation of one’s job duties.

What are the rules for storing combustible construction material?

Fires on construction sites in Madison can cause untold damage to structures while also placing you and your coworkers in great danger. However, if your work involves handling combustibles, then your familiarity with their safe use may mitigate any risk they present when being used on a job. Yet what about when they are being stored?

The improper storage of combustible construction materials may not only increase the risk of a fire starting, but also make it next to impossible for you to escape should one ignite. To prevent this from happening, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration sets guidelines for employers to follow regarding the storage of combustibles.

The musculoskeletal injuries that qualify for disability

The hope of most in Madison who are injured at work may be to recover to the point of resuming their careers. Unfortunately, many of those who have come to us here at the Law Firm of Johnston, Moore, and Thompson have suffered injuries that are far too serious to allow them to do so. If you fear your injury will not allow you to return to work, then being able to support yourself and your family might also become a serious concern. Social Security Disability benefits may help to relieve some of the financial stress that comes from losing your income. The question then becomes does your injury qualify?

The Social Security Administration has created a list of musculoskeletal impairments that could potentially qualify you for permanent total disability benefits. The presence of an injury itself, however, may not be enough to qualify. Certain conditional factors must also be met. These include:

  •          For injuries to the spine: Evidence of nerve root compression, limitation of motion, motor loss, spinal arachnoiditis, or lumbar spinal stenosis.
  •          For amputation: Amputation of both hands, one or both lower extremities, one hand and one lower extremity, or any part of the pelvis or hip.
  •          For femur, tibia, pelvis, or tarsal bone fractures: Inability to ambulate effectively for at least 12 months, or the lack of a solid union of the fractured bones.
  •          For upper extremity fractures: The nonunion of a humeral, radial, or ulna fracture with function not returning for 12 months.

Tampered-with ride leaves man with brain and spinal cord injuries

In cases involving accidents that may have left Madison residents facing severely impairing injuries, oftentimes there may be criminal charges brought against the parties responsible. However, as is true with other liability cases, the mere fact that a criminal investigation and/or prosecution is going on concurrently may not preclude accident victims from suing those believed to be at fault. Should the injuries that they suffer be severe enough, the option of waiting until a criminal case resolves itself may simply not be viable.

One could argue that was the case with a North Carolina man who suffered, among other things, brain and spinal cord injuries after going on a ride at the state fair. Subsequent investigations led to the discovery that the ride owner had installed an electrical box that allowed the ride operator to bypass the safety feature that prohibited the ride from starting before all of the ride occupants’ safety restraints were in place. Criminal charges were eventually brought against the ride operator and the owner of the attraction. In addition, a civil lawsuit was also filed against both men as well as the company that brought the ride to the fair and the company in charge of operating the fair’s midway. That lawsuit ended up being settled.

Tolling the wrongful death statute of limitations

Time is of the essence if Madison residents wish to file a wrongful death claim. We here at the Law Firm of Johnston, Moore, and Thompson are quick to remind clients they only have two years from the time of their loved one to commence such action. However, if you or the personal representative of your loved one’s estate miss the filing time, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot still pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

Once the two-years statute of limitations to file your wrongful death claim has passed, you are essentially left with the following three options:

  •          Ask that the court waive the statute of limitations: You may very well be able to get the court to hear your case to have the statute of limitations waived. However, your request must typically meet very specific criteria established by the court. Few cases ever do tend to qualify for such a waiver.
  •          Ask that the potential defendant waive the statute of limitation: As you may guess, this is very uncommon, with the only possible exception being if your complaint falls under a class action lawsuit.
  •          “Toll” the statute: Tolling a statute means delaying its start date. In Alabama, this may be a valid option in certain cases. The Alabama Code states that in the case of a minor, any statute of limitations is extended up to three years after he or she turns 19. Thus, if you had a parent die while you were young, you may retain the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit until the age of 22.

Man at fault in fatal Guntersville crash gets his day in court

Many assume that car accident investigations in Madison end at assigning fault to one of the drivers involved. For many, fault in matters for insurance or liability purposes. However, depending upon the results of such an investigation, it may be determined that the actions of the driver determined to be at fault were serious enough to warrant criminal charges.

Such was the conclusion made by law enforcement officials following an accident that occurred nearly three years ago near Guntersville. The collision involved two vehicles, one of which was a truck full of teenagers that ended up flipping and catching. Four passengers, all of whom were riding in the truck, were killed, while several others suffered serious injuries.

What must employers do to prevent construction site fires?

One of the more common threats that you and your coworkers in the construction industry may face is that of a job-site fire. Oftentimes, people may point out that fires are unanticipated, and thus all an employer can do is offer training on proper responses should one occur on a Madison construction site. The unique aspects of and equipment used in construction work, however, can create an increased risk of fire. Therefore, just as your employer is responsible for preparing you on how to combat a blaze, it also must follow certain guidelines regarding how to avoid one.

The fire prevention guidelines unique to the construction industry are set by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration. Specifically regarding ignition hazards on the job site, OSHA sets the following standards:

  •          Any and all exhaust from internal combustion-powered equipment must be directed away from combustible materials.
  •          Any incendiary equipment used to work with flammable liquids or gasses must be approved for use in hazardous locations.
  •          All electrical wiring for light, heat, and power sources must be installed according to regulations.
  •          Areas whose operations pose a fire hazard must be designated as smoke-free and marked with signs stating “No Smoking or Open Flame.”
  •          Air, gas, or steam hose nozzles used for cleaning flammable gas or vapor reservoirs must be bonded to the storage equipment they clean.