Do you have a legal question? Lewis & Keller can provide accurate answers to your legal questions.
How is it decided what the government will pay me if they decided to come and take my house by eminent domain?
Both the US and North Carolina Constitutions require that the property owner must be paid “just compensation.” This means they should receive the market value of the property. This is based on different real estate valuations, including comparing your property to those around it.
How often are Social Security clients whose main claim deals with depression found to be disabled under SSD laws?
The Social Security Administration looks at disability claims on a case-by-case basis. Each claim is assessed based on the severity of the person’s condition and their ability to work. Depression, just like with any physical disability, must meet the severity requirements set forth in the list of disabled conditions. If you suffer from debilitating illnesses, please give us a call at 877-970-4447 to see if we can help you receive Social Security benefits?
I have depression and it’s starting to get in the way of my life. It’s hard for me to get motivated to get dressed and go to work. I think I need some assistance. Is there a sure way to get Social Security Disability benefits?
I’m sorry you are having a hard time, but there is no “sure way” to get disability benefits. Each case is examined closely and based on each individual’s issues, they decide if you are disabled or not. Submit a claim to your local Social Security office in order to have your case examined. Once your claim is filed, feel free to give us a call in order to have us help you.
My 21 year old daughter, who is currently living with us, was in an accident last week. She was hit by a drunk driver. My daughter suffered a broken arm, a broken leg and 3 cracked ribs. The drunk driver who hit her had a revoked license and no insurance. Is there anything we can do?
I’m sorry to hear about your daughter. I hope she is doing well. The good news is that she should be covered under your household auto insurance policy, your medical payments policy and your under insured motorist coverage. This type of coverage is specifically meant to protect you in this type of situation particularly when a member of your family is hit by someone with no auto insurance coverage. Please call me if I can be of any further assistance.
I’m 42 years old and have been out of work because of a medical condition for 2 years and have been receiving disability benefits. Social Security says they are going to review my medical condition. How often can they do this?
Continuing disability investigations can occur at varying intervals. The frequency often depends upon the nature of your impairment and the resources available to Social Security to conduct the investigations. The first standard is whether your condition has medically improved. If SSA determines that it has, then it must determine whether you are disabled under other criteria. You are entitled to a hearing at reconsideration and the administrative law judge level. If you request that your benefits be continued within 10 days of the notice of cessation, pending the outcomes of the hearings. You may be asked to repay them if you are ultimately denied. You may want to contact a Social Security attorney or knowledgeable advocate to guide you. Thanks for contacting Ask Mike Lewis. Please contact us at 877-970-4447, we’d be delighted to help.
I have a question about my Social Security benefits. I am 45 years old and want to try to go back to work. Can I work and still receive Social Security disability benefits?
SSA provides various work incentives that are confiscated and should be reviewed with you by a knowledgeable advocate. These include a nine-month trial work period, a 36 month extended period of eligibility following the trial work period, and an unsuccessful work attempt (UWA) of three months and a UWA six months under special circumstances. Wages under the substantial gainful activity amounts ($1,040 per month in 2013) will generally not cause your benefits to cease. The issue is extremely complicated, and we generally advise that claimants consult with a knowledgeable advocate. Thank you for contacting Ask Mike Lewis. Please call us at 877-970-4447 for further information.
How much does it cost to hire a social security disability attorney?
When you hire a Social Security attorney, most folks worry that they will have to pay for their services in advance. Usually, that isn’t the case. The maximum fee that your attorney may charge is the lesser of 25% of your back pay or a total of $6,000. Assume your back pay is $10,000. Your lawyer may collect $2,500.00 as a fee for his or her services. This is a figure set by the Social Security Administration. You may be charged additionally for costs such as copying documents or postage. These charges should be specified in your contract with your attorney. Thank you for Asking Mike Lewis. Should you have any further questions about your Social Security claim, please contact our office at 877-970-4447.
Can I be sued if I have a car accident while I’m texting?
The answer is emphatically, yes. It’s called distracted driving. All it takes is a violation of NC’s distracted driving law which can be used as evidence of negligent driving if you cause injury to someone or their property. Our state statute does have an exception that says if you fail to comply with the texting rule it “shall not constitute negligence per se.” What this means is you may not automatically be considered negligent when you’re texting while driving. North Carolina doesn’t have a cell phone statute prohibiting cell phone use while driving except for school bus drivers and all drivers younger than 18 years of age. All North Carolina drivers are prohibited from texting while driving.
No one wants to be involved in an auto accident, but taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds to send or read a text will make you 2 times more likely to crash your car. CDC statistics show that 69% of drivers in the US reported they used their cell phone while driving in the last 30 days. 31% of drivers reported they had read or sent a text message while driving. The statistic I found most disturbing was over half of all high school students, 16 or older, text or email while driving. Why not take a look at www.distraction.gov to find out more about the dangers of distracted driving? At Lewis & Keller, we encourage you to place your cell phone out of easy reach to prevent the urge to text and drive. It could save your life.
Why do I need a personal injury attorney to handle my auto accident claim?
As a personal injury attorney, I hear this question almost daily. Most clients have spoken with their insurance company and think calling the adjuster is all they need to do to handle their claim quickly and efficiently. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most insurance companies don’t have your interest at heart. Hiring an attorney isn’t a “last resort” option. Without an attorney on your side, you could face costly mistakes in settling your case. Most injury lawyers will take your claim on a “contingent fee basis.” What does that mean? It simply means if your attorney doesn’t recover money for you, you may owe nothing. Be sure to read your contract to find out exactly how your fee agreement will be handled. You may be responsible for costs concerning your case, perhaps for medical records, etc.
Waiting too long to retain an attorney could hurt your case. You might make costly mistakes that could harm your settlement. Usually, we immediately send an investigator to take photos of the accident scene and interview witnesses. Preserving evidence before it’s lost or destroyed may be critical to your case. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations gives you 3 years to file a law suit regarding your case unless it involves a wrongful death in which case you have 2 years. There are exceptions that your attorney will discuss with you.
National insurance statistics state that auto accident recoveries are 3.5 times higher when you hire an attorney to handle your auto accident case. Most injured clients ask if they will have to appear in court. Usually, the answer is, “No.” Many accident claims are handled out of court in a settlement agreement.
Certainly, one of the most asked questions is, “How much will I get for my injury?” The answer isn’t simple. If it were, you probably wouldn’t need an attorney. Assuming you’ve been injured, your settlement would depend on the amount of the defendant’s insurance coverage, your own personal insurance, the extent of your injuries and your recovery. An experienced personal injury lawyer is better equipped to calculate your damages than you would be. Medical payments coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, and the insurance coverage carried by the at-fault driver are all factors that could play into the value of your settlement. There is no set formula to determine the amount you may receive for your injuries, but the insurance adjuster is NOT on your side. Rushing to settlement could be your biggest mistake. Check with an experienced personal injury attorney, you’ll be glad you did.
During a recent snow storm, the stoplights were out at a busy intersection near work. I stopped and treated the stoplight like a 4-way stop sign. I looked both ways and started through the intersection when a car came racing through and t-boned me. He never stopped. I have a severe neck and back sprain. I’m sure I did the right thing by stopping. Can I recover for my injuries?
I’m sorry that you were injured. If the other driver had followed the rules of the road, this never would have happened. You did the right thing by treating the non-working stoplight as a 4-way stop. The other driver should have done the same. You should be able to recover for your injuries.
I slipped and fell during a recent ice storm and injured my knee. I was walking to my mailbox early that morning in the apartment complex where I live, when I slipped on ice on the common sidewalk area. I tore my meniscus and will need knee surgery. I called my apartment manager to report the incident and find out if they would help pay for my surgery. They said they have no liability. Is that true?
I’m so sorry to hear about your injury. Unfortunately, it would be very difficult to recover in North Carolina. First, the property owner has no duty to warn of open and obvious dangers. And even worse, we are one of only 4 states that still have Contributory Negligence. If you knew there was ice around the mailbox because of the recent ice storm and did not take proper care for your own safety, you would be considered negligent. Even if you are 1% at fault, you probably would not recover anything in North Carolina because of this harsh law.
I was in an accident recently that totaled my car. A woman was driving in the opposite direction and lost control of her car. She crossed the center line and hit me head on. I had CT scans and numerous X-rays. I was released from the hospital with a serious concussion. She was 100% at fault. Her insurance company called and said there will be little payout. It has cost me time off work, hospital bills and lost money on my car. How can this happen?
I am sorry to hear about your crash and resulting injury. When an insurance company evaluates a claim, they often look at the injury suffered and the care required to address that injury. Unfortunately, if the only treatment is an initial ER visit, insurance companies tend to deem the injury minimal and only pay slightly over the ER bill to settle the claim. You should know that you are entitled to payment for your medical bills, your missed time from work (as long as a doctor has written you out), and then something on top of those expenses for pain and suffering. The pain and suffering number is very subjective and is typically somewhat minimal when only one ER visit is involved. As with your vehicle, the insurance company should be handling the damage to your vehicle completely separately from your injury portion of the claim. I hope this helps you understand the process a little bit better, but feel free to contact our office if you have further questions or concerns.
I was in an auto accident 6 months ago. The defendant’s insurance company is telling me that the driver that hit me head-on has minimal insurance coverage. I will have to pay a lot out of my pocket. Doesn’t the other driver have a responsibility to carry higher coverage?
I am sorry to hear about your accident. The simple answer to your question is, “No.” Many times drivers carry only a minimum coverage insurance policy. North Carolina law allows drivers to purchase this type of minimum coverage. To protect yourself in the future, you may want to look into medical payments coverage and underinsured motorist coverage. These types of policies will protect you when the defendant carries only the minimum coverage. Your medical bills would be covered by this type of policy, even if the defendant has no coverage. Please call our office to answer any questions you might have.
My husband recently became very sick after eating some milk he used on his cereal. He had just opened the carton and noticed nothing unusual, but within minutes after tasting it, he began to have a burning sensation in his mouth. Does he have a claim?
While the milk is the likely cause of his problems, North Carolina requires proof of fault in order to recover. He would need to have the milk tested as soon as possible in order to determine what toxic substances it might contain. He would then need a physician to review the information and state whether or not the toxic substance in the milk was a cause of his illness. Only then would he have a chance to recover money damages.
I currently cannot work my job. In fact, I am out on long-term disability. Therefore, I will be disabled under the Social Security Disability regulations, correct?
While it is true that being out on long-term disability from your job may suggest that you cannot do that job, there are more stages of consideration to your case. The final stage of your case is to determine if there is any job that someone with your medical limitations, age, education and work experience can perform. Therefore, to be disabled under the program, you must not be able to do any job at all, including your last job.
What single piece of advice would most benefit my disability case?
When you decide to apply for disability, think of your new “job” as taking good care of yourself. Focus your time and energy on obtaining quality, regular medical treatment. Establishing a solid relationship with a competent doctor goes a long way in a disability case. Don’t go to the emergency room unless it is truly an emergency or you have no other choice. If at all possible, find a good primary care doctor who can refer you to appropriate specialists. If you have behavioral or mental issues, it is crucial that you regularly treat with a therapist and/or psychiatrist. By helping yourself, you will also help your case.
I need a lawyer to help with my disability, but I can’t afford to pay an Attorney. What should I do?
You should call us as soon as possible. By law, an Attorney cannot charge you a fee for disability representation up front. Some firms may charge a small initial fee for expenses. However, at our firm you will owe us nothing up front. We only get paid if we win your case. This amount is set by federal regulation. Should we be successful, we will also bill for the costs advanced in winning your case.
What type of auto insurance should I get?
Liability auto insurance is designed to protect you. Your liability coverage will cover you for bodily injury and property damage if you or the driver of your car are at fault. It will cover any one in your family using your vehicle with your permission. Let’s say you have a split limits policy of 100/300/50. Exactly what this means is your policy would pay up to $100,000 to any one person that is injured, up to $300,000 for all persons combined injured in one single accident. Using this example, there would be a limit of $50,000 in property damage liability for each accident.
Now, to understand more about the different types of policies, let’s look at the additional kinds of insurance that are available. Collision coverage covers damage to your vehicle caused by another car, or even an object like a tree. This coverage pays the lesser of the average cost of repair to your vehicle no matter who’s at fault.
There’s one other area of insurance called comprehensive that covers losses caused by a break in, hitting a deer, flood, theft, fire, storm, etc. This type of insurance protects you regardless of who is at fault.
Medical payments, coverage is extra coverage that pays for medical and funeral expenses due to an auto accident, no matter who is at fault.
Our last area of coverage is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage, as the name implies, covers you or your family should you be hit by a driver who is at-fault and carries no insurance coverage. The same applies if the at-fault motorist does not carry enough coverage to cover your actual losses. This type of coverage does not include property damage protection, but will cover the difference between the other driver’s liability limits and your underinsured motorist policy limits.
I hope this helps. If you can afford the extra costs, I would certainly suggest that you buy the extra coverage these policies provide. Thanks for contacting us with your question.