Why Representing Yourself in a Disability Hearing Is Dangerous

You may think that you can navigate the disability process on your own; however, statistics show that claimants with representation during a Social Security disability (SSD) hearing win twice as often as claimants without representation. Here are five scenarios faced by disability do-it-yourselfers that may cause unnecessary problems: 1. Technical Errors If you miss the appeals deadline or if you fail to gather the correct documentation, you could lose even the most clear-cut disability case. An experienced attorney knows the appeal procedures, makes sure that you meet your deadlines and helps you to gather all of your documentation. 2. Missing Paperwork Assembling all of the information that you need for a disability hearing isn’t easy. You need documents including Social Security Administration (SSA) forms, medical records, employer’s statements and additional physician opinions. Your attorney can make sure that you have all of the paperwork that you need to support your case. 3. Lack of Preparation Questions asked during your hearing can throw you off guard. When you’re nervous, you may leave out critical information. Your attorney can anticipate the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) questions as well as any questions that may be asked by the SSA’s vocational expert. A good attorney will review these questions, help you to formulate complete answers and rehearse with you before the date of your hearing. Another advantage of hiring an attorney is that your lawyer will be familiar with the local hearings process. Your attorney may know the judges and their individual styles well enough to help you tailor your case in a winning way. 4. Financial Difficulties When you’re unable to work because of a disability, you may live off of savings, unemployment or workers’ compensation benefits for a while; however, if the appeals process drags out for a long time, you may run out of money to support yourself and your family. Your attorney can ensure that you follow appeals procedures to the letter. With your attorney’s help, you can avoid delays that can leave you even more financially strapped. 5. Exhaustion The Disability Determination Services may take between three and five months to process your application. After you appeal, you may have to wait over a year for your hearing. Disability claims can be a long slog, and it’s easy to feel like giving up. Your attorney will advocate for you, reassure you and work to secure a quick date for your appeals hearing. Contact Boteler, Finley & Wolfe to work with an experienced Mobile, AL disability attorney. Don’t put yourself through unnecessary stress. Call us today.

Insurance Claims: Five Tips for Giving an Effective Recorded Statement

READ THIS BEFORE YOU GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT TO AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER. The Boteler, Finley & Wolfe Insurance Guide for Recorded Statements is a four page publication that can be downloaded at no charge. It provides five tips for insurance claimants that will help you avoid common mistakes that can delay claim payment or even result in a claim being denied. Tips include why it is important to get a copy or transcript of the recorded statement, how to prepare for the recorded statement, how to respond and answer questions during the recorded statement and what not to do or say during a recorded statement. It also explains how adjusters sometimes use recorded statements to “profile” claimants and what you can do to help your “claimant profile.” At BF&W we understand that not every insurance claim requires a lawyer. However, we believe every person or business making an insurance claim needs to know their rights and understand the insurance claim process. That is why we offer more free insurance claim information material than any other law firm on the Gulf Coast area. We also believe a consultation early in the insurance claim process can be very beneficial to better understand what legal issues may be involved in a specific insurance claim. Consultations are free. Here is a list of free guides and resources available from the Boteler, Finley & Wolfe web site: Motor Vehicle Collisions: A Victim’s Handbook – Ala ed Motor Vehicle Accidents: Property Damage Claims – Ala ed Alabama Guide for Insurance Claims Insurance Claims: Guide for Effective Recorded Statements Medical Malpractice Laws in Alabama Alabama Law for Slip & Fall Claims Small Claims Court: A User’s Guide Alabama Guide for Life Insurance Claims 10 Tips for Locating Life Insurance Policies

Should I Participate in a Mass Tort Case?

If you’ve suffered property damage, personal injury or other losses as a result of a large-scale disaster, defective product or toxic incident, you may have grounds to join a mass tort case against the liable party. Although the mass tort process generally isn’t time-consuming or arduous for individual plaintiffs, it can seem confusing. We’ve compiled a helpful “cheat sheet” that outlines the advantages of participating in mass tort cases. Mass Torts vs. Class Action Lawsuits It’s understandable to confuse mass torts with class action lawsuits, but the two forms of litigation aren’t identical. The key difference lies in their structure: Whereas a class action lawsuit is a single action that’s joined by hundreds or thousands of participants, a mass tort case is a collection of individual actions with similar characteristics. For this reason, mass torts are often called “multidistrict legal actions” or variations thereof. Characteristics and Promotion Mass tort cases generally stem from complaints about one of these three broad issues: •    Defective machinery or consumer products •    Large-scale disasters like plane crashes or building fires •    Toxic events like oil spills or waste dumping incidents Regardless of the exact complaint, a judge must determine that each individual claim is similar enough to warrant the formation of a mass tort. Once a given case is certified, it must be promoted in local or national media in accordance with certain guidelines. Preparing for Your Case To prepare for your case, compile any documents that might strengthen your claim. These include: •    Hospital bills •    Termination letters •    Worker’s compensation forms •    Pay stubs •    Testimony from witnesses or others involved in the case As a rule, you should never divulge specific information about your case without your attorney’s consent. It’s never a good idea to attempt to enter a mass tort case without the help of a legal professional. Time Commitment and Results Even though mass tort cases are structured as streamlined collections of individual legal actions, they generally don’t require their participants to appear in court on a daily basis. Trained legal representatives can handle the pre-trial and trial phases of each mass tort without direct input from their clients. As such, mass tort participants generally don’t need to devote huge amounts of time to their cases. Since judgments in these cases may run into the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, many participants are happy to invest some of their time in the outcome. Do you feel as if you’re entitled to compensation under a pending mass tort case but wonder whether it would be worthwhile for you to participate? Many regular folks are understandably nervous to “put themselves out there” in a legal action that can stretch on for months or years. Before you make any decisions, contact us at 866-975-7766 or visit our homepage for more information.