Monthly Archives: January 2014

Attorney Byron David Speaking at Injured Workers’ Advocates Seminar

Byron David

Attorney Byron David with The David Law Firm has been chosen to speak at the Injured Workers’ Advocates Paralegal and Legal Assistant Seminar on Saturday, January 25, 2014.  Attorney David plans to discuss what types of cases must be mediated and how paralegals can prepare their attorney and files for mediation.  The seminar has been designed to assist paralegals and legal assistants of all levels.

Injured Workers’ Advocates is a nonprofit association of attorneys who are dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights and legal remedies for South Carolina workers who are victims of occupational injury or disease. Injured Workers’ Advocates works to achieve these goals by advocating for the rights of the injured worker through education, litigation, and communicating with others concerning goals and issues important to the protection of workers’ rights in the state of South Carolina.  Their mission is to protect the rights of injured workers and their families in South Carolina.

Social Security Announces New Compassionate Allowances Conditions

byron david, conway, scCarolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, today announced 25 new Compassionate Allowances conditions, including a dozen cancers, bringing the total number of conditions to 225.  The Compassionate Allowances program expedites disability decisions for Americans with the most serious disabilities to ensure that they receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years. The new conditions also include disorders that affect the digestive, neurological, immune, and multiple body systems.

“We are dedicated to providing vulnerable Americans with faster access to disability benefits through our Compassionate Allowances program,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin. “Social Security disability benefits are a vital lifeline for individuals who are facing severe diseases and we must ensure that they receive the benefits they rightly deserve.”

The Compassionate Allowances program identifies claims where the applicant’s disease or condition clearly meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability. By incorporating cutting-edge technology, the agency can easily identify potential Compassionate Allowances and quickly make decisions. To date, almost 200,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this fast-track disability process.

The Compassionate Allowances program is a significant initiative that highlights collaboration between government, medical experts, advocacy groups, and members of the public. Social Security has conducted public outreach hearings and gathered feedback from various stakeholders to identify conditions that are most likely to meet the agency’s definition of disability.

“I am extremely pleased that the SSA has included Prostate Cancer in its Compassionate Allowance list – a decision that will save lives, and give more patients access to treatment options,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD). “Working with constituents fighting this disease, I know just how life altering it can be, as well as how many will benefit from this change in policy.”

For more information on the program, including a list of all Compassionate Allowances conditions, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

New Compassionate Allowances Conditions

  1. Angiosarcoma
  2. Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor
  3. Chronic Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction
  4. Coffin- Lowry Syndrome
  5. Esthesioneuroblastoma
  6. Giant Axonal Neuropathy
  7. Hoyeaal-Hreidarsson Syndrome
  8. Intracranial Hemangiopericytoma
  9. Joubert Syndrome
  10. Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis
  11. Liposarcoma- metastatic or recurrent
  12. Malignant Ectomesenchymoma
  13. Malignant Renal Rhabdoid Tumor
  14. Marshall-Smith Syndrome
  15. Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumor- Grade III
  16. Pallister-Killian Syndrome
  17. Progressive Bulbar Palsy
  18. Prostate Cancer – Hormone Refractory Disease – or with visceral metastases
  19. Revesz Syndrome
  20. Seckel Syndrome
  21. Sjogren-Larsson Syndrome
  22. Small Cell Cancer of the Thymus
  23. Soft Tissue Sarcoma- with distant metastases or recurrent
  24. X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disease
  25. X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy

If you would like a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability Claim, please call The David Law Firm at (843) 488-1415.

New Mileage Reimbursement Rate – Workers’ Compensation

byron david, conway, florenceRegulation 67-1601 A (1) provides the expenses incurred for travel to receive
medical attention which shall be reimbursed to the claimant are mileage to and
from a place of medical attention which is more than five miles away from home in
accordance with the amount allowed state employees for mileage.

The state employee mileage rate is based upon the standard business mileage rate
established by the Internal Revenue Service. Effective January 1, 2014 the
reimbursement rate for state employee mileage is 56 cents per mile. Therefore,
effective January 1, 2014, the new mileage reimbursement rate to and from a place
of medical attention is 56 cents per mile.

2014 Maximum Weekly Compensation Rate – Workers’ Compensation

Byron David, Conway, FlorenceAt the [South Carolina WCC] Business Meeting on December 16, 2013, the Commission approved the maximum weekly compensation rate at $752.16 for injuries arising on and after January 1, 2014. The South
Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce certified the average weekly wage July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013.

As provided in Title 42 of the SC Code of Laws, 1976 the maximum weekly compensation rate equals 66⅔% of an individual’s average weekly wage, not to exceed the average weekly wage in this State for the preceding fiscal year as determined by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

What if I Cannot Afford Treatment that Would Allow Me to Work?

Byron David, Conway, FlorenceWhat if you are disabled and unable to work?

You would file for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits.  Sounds simple enough.

Now let us consider another – more complicated – question.

What if there was a treatment for your disability which would allow you to work, BUT you cannot afford that treatment?

Can your SSDI claim be denied based on the fact that, with treatment, you could work?

Consider this case:

A young man had a below-the-knee amputation over 15 years ago, and began using a prosthetic leg that same year.  He used that same artificial limb for several years, before it began cracking and causing his stump to bleed when worn for more than 30 minutes at a time.  The man is unable to get around on one leg.  However, he cannot afford a new limb and there are no assistance programs available to him for reduced or free repair or replacement of the limb.  Modifications to the device itself have been tried, but to no avail.

When filing for SSDI, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the medical expert (ME), and even the prosthetic provider, testified that the man cannot ambulate properly with his current prosthetic leg, and that he needs a new one.  Furthermore, all agree that with a new leg, the claimant would be able to get around easily and, therefore could secure a job.

The question is then, can the man’s SSDI claim be denied based on the fact that, with treatment (which he cannot afford), he could work?

No, according to Attorney Byron David.  David’s opinion is based on rulings in two prior cases:

  • “The medicine or treatment an indigent person cannot afford is no more a cure for his condition than if it had never been discovered.”   [McKnight v. Sullivan,927 F.2d 241 (6th Cir. 1990) which adopted the 5th Circuit rule in Lovelace v. Bowen, 813 F.2d 55 (5thCir. 1987)]
  • A claimant may not be penalized for failing to seek treatment she cannot afford; “[i]t flies in the face of the patent purposes of the Social Security Act to deny benefits to someone because he is too poor to obtain medical treatment that may help him.” [Gordon v. Schweiker, 725 F.2d 231, 237 (4th Cir.1984).  Lovejoy v. Heckler, 790 F.2d 1114, 1117 (4th Cir. 1986)]

If you or someone you know are disabled and unable to work, please contact The David Law Firm at (843) 488-1415.

What if My Doctor Will Not Help My Injury Case?

byron david, conway, florence

Sometimes a treating doctor or surgeon will not agree to testify in court, and in fact will not have anything to do with a patient’s injury case.

Clients of The David Law Firm ask what can they do when their own doctors do not want to be bothered.  In some cases a treating doctor will demand thousands of dollars to testify, attend a deposition, or even write a written report.

Since the injured victim always has the burden of proof to show the nature and extent of the harms and losses, expert medical testimony is vital.

Attorney Byron David advises clients in these circumstances that there are other options:

  • While the U.S. Constitution forbids involuntary servitude, such that a doctor cannot be forced to give an opinion or testimony, physicians and other healthcare providers can be subpoenaed as fact witnesses — much like an eyewitness to a car crash or dog bite attack.
  • Hiring a paid expert witness is another way to obtain medical testimony in a case.  In order to keep the costs down of going this route, David counsels disabled clients that a reviewing physician, independent examiner, or other expert witness will be questioned in a deposition, but will not necessarily be retained for trial.
  • If the treating doctor, family physician, or surgeon refuses to participate in a trial, then David has over the years taken many videotaped depositions for later presentation to the jury.  While David prefers live testimony of the actual treating doctors, videotaped depositions, along with the appropriate visual aids and medical illustrations, have their place and purpose.
  • In major cases, the David Law Firm trial team will retain a medical expert to evaluate and examine the patient, along with his or her medical records and films. That medical doctor can then testify at trial as to his or her findings, opinions, and explanations of the medical terminology.
  • Another solution is to have a non-examining doctor perform a medical records review of the films and records i.e., x-rays, MRI, CT scan, pet scan, etc. and then testify based upon that limited information.
  • The David Law Firm has also used nurses, PhD’s, and other experts to explain medical conditions, anatomy, and the usual customary charges for medical treatment.

If you, or someone you care for, has been injured through no fault of their own, and there are questions about their doctors’ assistance in their case or claim, call The David Law Firm (843) 488-1415.