When Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

 

If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s actions or negligence, you face more challenges than just your injury. You also have medical bills and insurance claims to deal with, lost wages and more. So, when can you deal with these issues on your own – and under what circumstances do you need an attorney?

For minor injuries, such as short-term sprains or soft-tissue injuries, you may not need to hire one. For very small claims, legal assistance may raise your settlement only marginally, and the attorney’s fee may lower the amount you receive overall. However, a lawyer may be able to increase the value of your claim drastically if your injuries are more serious or if your situation is more complicated.

According to the National Law Review, “[i]f your injury necessitated hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, chiropractic work, cosmetic surgery or orthopedics, you likely need to have your case evaluated by an injury lawyer. When claims involve substantial past and future medical expenses, their value can be significantly increased when you have good legal representation.” The Insurance Research Council reports that the average person receives a 3.5 times’ larger settlement with legal assistance than without it.

For more complicated or high-stakes situations, an attorney’s specialized skills become much more valuable. Attorneys have a deep knowledge of the law that you may not have, as well as extensive experience working with insurance companies and their lawyers. If you do not feel confident in your knowledge of statutory and case law, or you do not have the time to dedicate to research, hiring an attorney may be your best option.

Important Caution

You may decide to file a claim on your own because, when your injury seems relatively minor and straightforward, you’re ready to settle the matter quickly. But in a percentage of those types of cases, seemingly simple legal situations become complicated – quickly – and in those situations, it’s in the insurance company’s best interests, not yours, to settle quickly. So, proceed with care.

In other scenarios, the insurance company could refuse to pay the claim, offer an unreasonably low amount or dispute liability. In these situations, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Insurers can also take more insidious routes to avoid paying claims. They will likely contact you to ask for a statement about the injury and may ask for your medical records and other personal information. Once they have your information, they may use it to harm your case, such as blaming the injury on a pre-existing condition. The National Law Review therefore recommends that you speak to a lawyer before giving any statement or personal information to the insurance company.

Ultimately, the decision to hire a personal injury attorney is your own, and depends upon the severity of your injuries, your medical costs, the complexity of your case, and your own legal knowledge. As the above examples illustrate, though, it can be more prudent to call a personal injury attorney before your situation becomes complicated and before insurance companies have evidence they can use to fight your claims.

If you are ready to hire a personal injury attorney – or you just want to explore your options – contact us online for a free case evaluation. Or call us at:

AMERICA’S TOP 100 PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS®

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Contact: Kevin Wieser: Membership Director

Telephone: (714) 409-8126

Email: Membership@AmericasTop100Attorneys.com

Website: www.Top100PersonalInjuryAttorneys.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 25, 2019 – Announcing the selection of F. Craig Wilkerson, Jr.  among America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys® for 2019. Selection to America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys® is by invitation only and is reserved to identify the nation’s most exceptional litigators for high-value personal injury, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice matters. 

To be considered for selection, an attorney must focus more than 50% of their active legal practice on personal injury, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, product liability, and/or medical malpractice matters. These minimum qualifications are required for initial consideration. Thereafter, candidates are carefully screened through Advanced Data Analytics evaluating a broad array of criteria, including the candidate’s professional experience, litigation experience, significant personal injury settlements and/or verdicts, peer reputation, and community impact in order to rank the candidates throughout the state. 

Only the top 100 qualifying attorneys in each state will receive this honor and be selected for membership among America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys®. With these extremely high standards for selection to America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys®, less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States will receive this honor — truly the most exclusive and elite level of attorneys in the community.

Suspect Nursing Home Negligence? Here’s What to Do

nursing home negligence

Around one in ten adults over the age of 60 have experienced at least one form of elder abuse or mistreatment. Even worse, only one in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities — and the effects of abuse and neglect can be devastating. In fact, victims of elder mistreatment have a 300 percent higher risk of death than those who have not been mistreated.

One environment in which elder abuse often goes unnoticed is nursing homes. While most nursing homes provide residents with a safe and healthy living environment, they can also create unbalanced power dynamics between residents and employees, and isolate residents from friends and family. If you suspect mistreatment of a loved one in a nursing home, here are four steps you can take to help.

Visit Often

The first step in stopping nursing home neglect or abuse is being present to see warning signs. Visiting your loved ones in a nursing home regularly allows you to notice unexplained changes in behavior, changes in physical health, troubling interactions between employees and residents, and cleanliness of living spaces.

Listen and Observe

If you notice any warning signs of abuse or neglect, you should ask your loved one for clarification on what you saw. However, also keep in mind that he may not want to admit to being mistreated. He may fear retribution, not want to get an employee in trouble, and/or feel that admitting to mistreatment would show weakness. Whether the resident confirms the mistreatment or not, start documenting relevant information in detail. Include the location, date, time and people involved, and the names of other staff members who may have witnessed the incident as well.

Report

Most cases of elder abuse go unreported. Don’t let fear of being wrong keep you from reporting your suspicions to the authorities. Even if your suspicions are incorrect, you will not be legally liable if you made your report in good faith. In South Carolina, you can report nursing home negligence to the National Center on Elder Abuse. For elder abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult in a community setting, call 888-227-3487. For elder mistreatment in long-term care facilities outside Richland County, call 800-868-9095. And for elder mistreatment in long-term care facilities within Richland County, call 803-734-9900. If you fear that a nursing home resident’s safety is in immediate danger, call 911 as soon as possible. You can also find county-specific information.

Seek Legal Representation

Once you’ve done all you can to get your loved one out of harm’s way, follow up with a nursing home negligence attorney, contacting him or her as soon as possible about your case. A lawyer will help you receive compensation for physical or emotional damages by finding an expert witness to testify for the victim, investigating standards of care for the nursing home and providing experienced legal expertise.

Hire a South Carolina Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Today

If you or a loved one is the victim of nursing home negligence, the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson can help. Schedule a free case evaluation online or call us at:

Most Dangerous Occupations: What That Means for Worker’s Compensation Cases

most dangerous occupations

Although workplace injuries can occur in virtually any industry, some occupations are more dangerous than others. Here are the top six most dangerous industries for workers in the United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2015 report on nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. Do you or a loved work in one of them?

  1. Forestry and Logging

For decades, logging and forestry has consistently been reported as one of the top industries in the country for worker fatalities – and in 2015, 132.7 per 100,000 workers were killed due to a work injury. Loggers and forestry workers are particularly vulnerable to fatal workplace injuries due to their work in rough terrain and in rural areas with few medical resources.

  1. Agriculture, Fishing, and Hunting

Closely following the forestry and logging industry is the agricultural industry, including fishing, and hunting. Though the high risk of these professions may be initially surprising, studies show that approximately 100 agriculture workers are seriously injured every day and nearly 400 workers die each year due to an agricultural workplace injury.

  1. Transportation and Warehousing

Transportation and warehousing account for over seven million jobs, and they also account for a large percentage of workplace injuries and fatalities. In 2015, 201,600 transportation and warehousing workers were injured and 799 were killed in work-related accidents. The most dangerous jobs within this industry are couriers with 6.8 injuries per 100 workers, followed by air transportation workers with 5.8 injuries per 100 workers, then by warehousing and storage workers with 4.9 injuries per 100 workers.

  1. Health Care

Health care is another industry with a surprisingly high number of workplace injuries. Every day, healthcare workers deal with hazards such as radioactive material, bloodborne pathogens, waste anesthetic gas, and chemicals such as formaldehyde, ethylene oxide and peracetic acid. Because of these hazards, 4.3 healthcare workers out of 100 were injured in 2015. Caregivers at nursing homes and residential care facilities are even more at risk with 6.8 injuries per 100 workers, closely followed by hospital workers with six injuries per 100 workers.

  1. Manufacturing

Heavy machinery, hazardous substances and high physical demands can make the manufacturing industry an unsafe work environment. In 2015, 466,500 manufacturing workers were injured on the job. Wood product manufacturing workers are injured at the highest rate with 5.9 injuries per 100 workers.

  1. Retail

Though retail jobs do not typically involve hazardous substances or heavy machinery, the retail industry has a surprisingly high rate of workplace injuries and illnesses, with 3.5 injuries per 100 workers in 2015. Most of these injuries are not the result of a sudden accident or mistake, but rather sprains, pain, soreness and carpal tunnel syndrome due to overexertion and repetitive movements.

Do You Need a Worker’s Compensation Accident Lawyer in South Carolina?

If you’ve been injured at work in Rock Hill, Lancaster, or Fort Mill, South Carolina, then call personal injury attorney F. Craig Wilkerson, Jr. today. We fight again the insurance companies to ensure that you receive a fair settlement for your worker’s comp case. Schedule your free case evaluation today or call us at:

How Much to Expect from Car Accident Settlement

How Much to Expect from a Car Accident Settlement

This is the million-dollar question.  My most frequently asked question as a Personal Injury Attorney is “What is My Case Worth?”  And rightfully so.  Let’s face it, you are the victim of someone else’s negligence and you are forced to live with the consequences of someone else’s negligence daily.  You deserve to be fairly compensated for your injuries.  I want to be clear here that it is unethical for any attorney to talk to you and promise you a dollar amount for your case’s worth.  Every case is unique and must be considered on a case-to-case basis.

There are multiple variables which impact the outcome of how much to expect from a car accident settlement – for example, types of injuries, extent of medical care, length of recovery time, cost of medical bills, eyewitness testimony, opinion of medical experts, etc.….  What I can do, is talk to you about what you expect, compare previous settlement amounts for similar cases, and work with you to come up with a ballpark figure that you would like for me to fight for you to receive.  If anyone tries to tell you an exact dollar amount, please know that attorney is specializing in false promises.

Chained up money
A stack of currency chained together and padlocked. Used for any money inference where money is tight or protected.

Is there a Formula to Assess Case Worth?

The honest approach to assessing case worth is to utilize the following formula and to fight hard to try to reach the best results for a client: Liability + Damages + Ability to Pay.  I will spell out each step in this formula.

Liability: 

Who is at fault for the accident?  What did the other person do that was wrong?  If you are involved in an accident that is 100% the other party’s fault, the value of your case increases.  If the liability (or fault) is less than 100%, then your claim and the claim’s value decreases.

Should you pursue a claim if the accident was partially your fault?  The best answer, is talk to an experienced personal injury attorney during a free case evaluation.  Even if you are partially at fault for an accident, you could still receive some compensation under a personal injury claim.  Insurance companies will try to trick you into admitting some fault.  Claims adjusters are often trained in using questions that will make you guess at elements of the accident that you may not know or discuss injuries that are outside of your area of expertise.  You do not have to handle the insurance companies alone and you are not required to answer their questions right away.  Work with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney who can represent you when speaking with the insurance companies.

Damages:

The severity of your damages directly impacts the value of your personal injury case.  This makes sense – if you require more care to recover, this will be more expensive, and you should be compensated at a higher rate to cover the costs associated with your recovery.  Essentially, the law says that if you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, then you have the right to be put back into the same condition that you were in before the accident.  Conversely, if you were not injured, then you have incurred no losses, and you are unable to receive any personal injury compensation.

The cause of the damages is very important to your case.  Can we prove that your damages are directly linked to the accident?  This is why it is critical for you to receive medical care immediately after the accident; any delay in medical care or medical evaluation can make it more difficult to link causation to the accident.  If you have pre-existing injuries or medical conditions, this link can be even more difficult.  Insurance companies will try to say that you are blaming the accident on causing problems that already existed.  Again, if you’re in an accident, go to a medical professional right away.  This immediate medical evaluation can make or break your case.  I encourage you to go even if you do not notice pains right away, often the body starts to feel pain several hours or several days after an accident.

Here is a list of Types of Damages to consider for a Personal Injury case:

  • Medical Expenses – current and future
  • Lost Wages
  • Have the injuries caused inconvenience to you or your family?
  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Physical Impairment
  • Property Loss

Ability to Pay:

Can the person responsible pay for their negligence?  Unfortunately, there are many incidents where liability is clear and the damages are excessive but there is inadequate insurance to cover the costs.  Collecting money outside of an insurance policy is extremely difficult; realistically, the majority of uninsured or under-insured individuals do not have sufficient funds to cover the costs associated with a major accident.  If the person responsible is under-insured, you may be partially compensated.  If the person responsible is un-insured, you may not be compensated at all.  I encourage everyone to carry uninsured motorist insurance coverage.  This coverage protects you if you are injured by someone who is uninsured or under-insured.

If the person responsible does have adequate insurance, then there may be sufficient coverage to fight for fair compensation of your losses, injuries, and damages.  You will get the best results when you work with a Personal Injury Attorney who is adept at fighting the big insurance companies.

What to Expect from a Car Accident Settlement?

While I can’t answer the specific question, “What compensation can I get?” with an exact number, I can commit that our legal team will work to help you determine the types of monetary damages that you are entitled and that we will fight for your fair compensation.  When you hire the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr., our personal injury attorneys will initiate the investigative work immediately to help you get the most for your accident.  We will take on the insurance companies and take care of all the details (accident reports, surveillance videos, eyewitnesses, medical experts, etc.…) necessary to give you the best strategy for your case.

In a personal injury case, money should be awarded to the injured person by the person or company who is found to be legally responsible for the accident.  I promise that we will go to battle for your fair compensation and that you will not be charged until we win your case.  The insurance companies know our reputation, our law firm is committed to our clients, even taking several cases to the South Carolina Supreme Court.  We have a history of success at trial.

In conclusion, every case is unique and if you have any other questions about how much your personal injury case is worth, please contact us for a free consultation at www.fcwlaw.com or 803-324-7200.  The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. – Big Enough to Fight, Small Enough to Care.

Summer Driving Tips: Safe Driving on Your Vacation

vacation driving tips

It’s finally summer vacation season, which means you may be preparing for a long road trip. Summer is the most dangerous time to drive, which means you should take extra precautions. Here are four tips for safe driving on your summer vacation:

Do a Safety Check

The last thing you want on the way to your vacation is a stressful and potentially expensive vehicle breakdown. Before taking a long trip, you should perform a general safety check on your vehicle or go to a mechanic to ensure that it’s in good working order. Be sure to check your tires, battery, belts, coolant, radiator, oil level, headlights and tail lights. If you have any doubts about your vehicle’s reliability, take it to a mechanic for a tune up.

Bring an Emergency Kit

You never know what could go wrong during your trip, so be prepared with an emergency kit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends packing a kit containing the following:

  • Cell phone and car charger
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares and a white flag
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire
  • Work gloves and a change of clothes
  • Basic repair tools and duct tape
  • Water and paper towels for cleaning up
  • Nonperishable food, drinking water and medicines
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Maps
  • Emergency blankets, towels and coats

Also, be sure to pack your license, registration, and car insurance card, as well as a phone number for a national automotive assistance company.

Rest

Being well rested is an important part of long-distance driving. Driving while drowsy increases your risk of an accident and causes around 850 deaths per year. Don’t risk your life and the lives of your passengers by driving too long or driving while tired. Get a good night’s sleep before leaving and take turns driving, switching every few hours. If no one else can drive, be sure to make a pit stop at least once every two hours. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself awake; this also forces you to stop for bathroom breaks. If you start to feel tired, pull over for a short nap.

Practice Safe Driving

Safe driving practices are even more important during long-distance travel. Follow all traffic laws, including posted speed limits. Avoid distractions like talking on the phone, texting and eating while driving. Make a habit of looking far ahead of you for potential dangers. Look five cars ahead (or ten in dense traffic) to spot any problems ahead of time. You should also do your best to avoid heavy traffic, which can be dangerous and will slow your trip. When planning your route, avoid going through major cities during rush hour.

Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer in South Carolina?

If you have been injured in a car accident, the professionals at the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson can help. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you get the settlement you deserve. Contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation or call us at:

Common Medical Mistakes That Lead to Lawsuits

Common Medical Mistakes That Lead to Lawsuits

Photo of Medical Mistakes

Medical mistakes are a serious public health issue in the United States. Estimates from two famous studies suggest that preventable medical mistakes kill 251,000 to 440,000 U.S. patients each year.

Patients who do not lose their lives may suffer from permanent health conditions that severely reduce their quality of life. In some cases, these patients or their family members seek compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, hospital, or another party. Below, we list common medical mistakes that may lead to a lawsuit.

Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors are the most common type of medical mistake in the country. However, there are multiple types of diagnostic errors. Common diagnostic errors include but are not limited to:

  • Delayed diagnosis. This is where a doctor gets the diagnosis wrong the first time but later corrects the mistake after time has passed. In some cases, a delayed diagnosis makes it impossible or much more difficult to treat a serious health condition.
  • Missed diagnosis. A medical practitioner may get a diagnosis wrong with no correction ever being made. Patients may believe they have a “clean bill of health” when in fact they are suffering from a potentially dangerous or fatal health condition. 
  • Wrong diagnosis. In some cases, a doctor may confuse one health condition with another. For instance, a doctor may mistake bacterial meningitis with the flu. There are more common examples, as bacterial meningitis is extremely rare. Heart attacks share similar symptoms with common health conditions. 
  • Failure to diagnose a related disease. This is where a doctor gets one diagnosis correct but fails to detect another condition that is affecting the diagnosed condition. 

Diagnostic errors can occur in any type of health care setting. However, emergency rooms are notorious for the examples listed above. 

Surgical Errors 

Some types of surgical errors are called “never events”. As the name implies, a “never event” is a type of medical error that should not happen. The National Quality Forum maintains a list of never events. Surgical never events may include: 

  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Leaving surgical equipment in patients after a procedure (retained surgical items)
  • Conducting the wrong type of surgical procedure

There are other types of surgical errors where patients might be able to sue. A surgeon may harm healthy organs during a procedure or could fail to recognize a dangerous health condition before or during the surgery. 

You should consult with a medical malpractice attorney if you or a loved one suffered harm during surgery and you have questions about your legal rights. 

Medication Mistakes

Medication mistakes can kill patients or cause life-altering injuries. It would depend on the medication involved, the dosage and other factors. These types of mistakes can occur in a hospital or pharmacy.

Medication mistakes include: 

  • Providing the wrong medication
  • Providing the wrong dosage
  • Incorrectly administering the drug
  • Omission errors – such as failing to provide a patient a scheduled dose
  • Giving a patient medication at the incorrect time
  • Incorrectly preparing a compound medication
  • Failing to monitor patients for complications caused by the medication

When Is a Medical Mistake Medical Malpractice?

Patients and their family members may be able to seek compensation for their damages by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are certain requirements for filing a lawsuit. You must be within the statute of limitations. 

More importantly, you must be able to demonstrate that the medical professional responsible for your care did not provide services within the accepted standard of care and that you suffered damages as a result. 

You should speak with one of our attorneys if you have questions about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in South Carolina.

About Our Rock Hill Medical Malpractice Lawyers

The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. can help you determine if it would be possible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in South Carolina. Our personal injury attorneys have experience with a variety of personal injury cases. You can learn more about our law firm on our website. Our website also has helpful information about how you can protect a potential medical malpractice claim

Call (803)324-7200 or use the online contact form on our website to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. 

Nursing Home Sued for Wrongful Death, Malpractice in Orangeburg County

Nursing Home Sued for Wrongful Death, Malpractice in Orangeburg County

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More than three million people in the United States currently live in nursing homes. In one survey with residents, about 44 percent indicated they had suffered from abuse and more than 95 percent indicated they’d been neglected.

The knowledge that your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home can be jarring — and even infuriating. In these situations, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the offending company to seek damages for the pain and suffering your family has experienced.

One such lawsuit was recently filed in Orangeburg County by Darlene Bethea.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed in Orangeburg County

Bethea represents the estate of Rena Mae Zinnerman. In her lawsuit, Bethea alleges the owner of Phaire’s Care — the assisted living facility where Zinnerman lived — was driving with Zinnerman and three other residents of the facility in his vehicle when he was involved in an accident.

Zinnerman died from her injuries less than two weeks later. The wrongful death lawsuit is holding Phaire’s Care responsible for her death. It’s unclear why the residents were in the vehicle in the first place.

Another lawsuit was recently filed by Jason Broughton, who represents the estate of Judy Broughton, against the same company. This lawsuit alleges medical malpractice.

According to documents filed in court, Judy suffered multiple injuries and medical complications after becoming a resident at Phaire’s Care in September 2015. Less than a month after moving in, she was taken to Trident Medical Center with severe wounds.

Judy passed away in December 2015. The lawsuit alleges she was not given proper medical attention and treatment from staff members at Phaire’s Care.

A local news outlet noted the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has cited the assisted living home with medical policy violations in the past. The department recorded issues like incorrectly administered medication, not keeping records on-hand, and not properly feeding residents.

The home was fined $23,500 in 2014 for similar violations.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

There is often some overlap in nursing home neglect and medical malpractice. In both cases, staff members have a certain “duty of care” — and when that care isn’t provided, patients get hurt.

In order to prove medical malpractice has taken place, there should be provable negligence or recklessness on the part of staff. In the case of negligence, mistakes that rise to the level of medical malpractice could include the failure to diagnose a harmful condition, misdiagnosis, or unacceptable errors during surgery. These issues are commonly the focus of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Recklessness, on the other hand, is rare. It could involve a doctor performing surgery or a risky medical procedure while under the influence of drugs or alcohol — or a doctor that administered potentially lethal amounts of medication against acceptable medical practices.

It’s important to note that medical malpractice does not include when a patient naturally worsens in condition or when the condition is untreatable. 

Contact an Experienced Rock Hill Malpractice Attorney for Representation

If you or a loved one suffered harm due to nursing home abuse or medical malpractice, then it’s important to get in touch with a dedicated personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact our team at The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Lancaster, or Union by calling (803)-324-7200.

Additional Reading:

How to Appeal a VA Disability Claim Denial

How to Appeal a VA Disability Claim Denial

Photo of a VA Disability Claim Denial

If you are a veteran that has been injured, or are facing an impairment that negates your ability to work full time, there’s a good chance your initial claim for disability payments from the VA will be denied.

Fortunately, there’s a process you can follow to appeal the decision:

File the Correct Form to Avoid a VA Disability Claim Denial

First and foremost, you’ll need to file a Notice of Disagreement with the VA. The notice should be filed on VA Form 21-0958. In the past, a Statement in Support of Claim was acceptable, but this has been eliminated.

You’ll have one year from the date of your denial letter to file the notice. It’s important to note the deadline is based on the date your decision was sent, not the date it was received.

Disclude the Details in the Notice of Disagreement

In your Notice of Disagreement, you may be tempted to outline why you feel the initial decision was wrong. It’s normal to be frustrated, especially when you feel entitled to your disability benefits and believe you were unfairly denied.

However, going into too much detail in your notice could limit your ability to appeal issues that you haven’t mentioned or don’t know about yet. The notice is used to reserve your right to appeal — not to share your argument. You’ll have an opportunity for that later.

In your notice, you should state that you disagree with the decision in your denial letter and that you wish to appeal that decision. Be sure to include the date of the denial letter. And, if you must include specific arguments, state that your list isn’t exhaustive.

How Should I Choose My Appeal for a VA Disability Claim Denial?

There are two different types of appeals you may file — an appeal to a decision review officer at your regional office or an appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals. You can also specify whether the review officer should review your file and make a decision alone or request a personal hearing.

If the review officer denies your appeal, you can still take your case to the Board of Veterans Appeals. There are benefits and drawbacks to both options, so it may help to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney.

Follow the Process for a VA Disability Claim Denial

Once you’ve chosen an appeal type and written your Notice of Disagreement, file the notice at your regional office. If you requested a review officer, you’ll be asked for more information about your disagreement. The hearing, should you choose to have one, will be scheduled once this information has been provided.

If you requested a review through the Board of Veterans Appeals, you’ll receive a summary of the decision to deny benefits. It could take several months to arrive. Once it does, you’ll have 60 days to file VA Form 9 — which should identify your allegations and the benefits you’re seeking.

Again, it will take several months for your file to be transferred and for a hearing date to be set. Once you’ve met with a board member, a decision will be issued either granting your requested benefits or denying them. Your case may also be remanded back to your local office.

If you’ve been denied again and still wish to fight for benefits, there are additional options an experienced attorney can help you explore.

Contact an Experienced Veterans Disability Attorney for Assistance

Because the process of appealing is relatively complicated, you shouldn’t go through it alone. For assistance and representation, contact our experienced team at The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Lancaster, or Union. Call (803)-324-7200 to schedule an appointment.

Additional Reading:

Why Thousands Have Died Waiting on Social Security Disability Hearings Since 2011

Why Thousands Have Died Waiting on Social Security Disability Hearings Since 2011

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a Social Security program that provides monthly benefits to those who have become disabled before reaching retirement age and are no longer able to work for a living. Unfortunately, far too many people fail to receive social security disability hearings in a timely manner.

Unlike other disability programs, Social Security pays only for total disability. If you have a partial or short-term disability, you won’t be eligible for a monthly payout. You must also be unable to earn a living in any industry — the inability to work in your chosen career is not grounds for approval.

Despite the strict rules, there are thousands of people in the United States suffering from illnesses and unable to work full-time. However, because the approval process for Social Security Disability Insurance is so lengthy, many die while waiting for their claim to be decided.

The Problematic Process

According to The United States Social Security Administration (SSA), most claims are denied the first time around. Claimants must then apply for reconsideration. If that, too, is rejected, a hearing is scheduled for potential approval.

This is where the system becomes increasingly problematic. For those waiting to schedule a hearing, the timeline is lengthened significantly. The average wait period for a hearing in Charleston is over 500 days. The same wait period in Columbia is 443 days.

According to Social Security Disability expert Seth Carguiolo, more than 2,000 claimants nationwide have died while waiting for their claims to be handled.

Why the long wait time? The SSA blames a record number of hearing requests due to aging baby boomers and the economic recession. To reduce the backlog, the organization has received $290 million in federal funding. Since 2016, nearly 600 administrative law judges were hired.

Still, more than 600,000 people are waiting for a decision. In South Carolina, approval could mean an average monthly payment of just over $1,300 — a life-changing amount of money for someone who can no longer work.

Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability?

In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability, you must have worked in a job that required you to pay into Social Security for a certain amount of time. That amount is determined by a credit-based system — the longer you’ve paid in, the more credits you’ll have.

In addition to a specific number of credits, you must have an approved medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability; and you won’t be able to get benefits until your ability to work has been reduced for a year because of that disability.

The main questions the SSA will ask when reviewing your case include:

  • Are you currently working?
  • Do your earnings average more than $1,220 a month?
  • Is your diagnosis severe?
  • Has your ability to work been reduced for at least a year?
  • Can you perform the same work you were doing prior to your condition?
  • Can you perform another type of work?

Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer for Assistance

If you are unable to work full-time as a result of a physical or mental health condition, you may need assistance navigating Social Security Disability Insurance. For professional assistance from an experienced attorney, contact The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Lancaster, or Union at (803)-324-7200.

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