Featured Link — What Do You Want to Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis?

In our Social Security disability practice, we see many clients with bad cases of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s a painful, disabling condition.

The Healthline site has very good resources for those dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. Please read the articles there. Here is a short statement from the site:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. The immune system normally identifies and destroys foreign substances in the body, such as viruses and bacteria; in an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes the body’s own cells for invaders. In RA, the immune system attacks the synovia, the membranes lining the joints.

This causes swelling, stiffness, and pain and can eventually damage bones, tendons, and cartilage, causing deformities and limiting motion. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other parts of the body, including the heart, lungs and salivary and tear glands.

Approximately 1.3 million Americans have RA. It is two to three times more common in women than in men, and it is most often diagnosed in people between 40 and 60 years old, though it can also occur in younger adults and even children. The largest group of RA suffers is women over 55; about one in 20 of them have RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, meaning that patients are affected for a long period of time. Most people with RA experience relatively symptom-free periods, called remissions, punctuated by flare-ups during which symptoms become severe for a short time.

The disease most people refer to as “arthritis” is osteoarthritis, not rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is pain and stiffness caused by physical wear and tear on the bones and is most common in the elderly.

Is It Time to Reform Tort Reform?

Tort reform made sense to lots of people at the time, Stephen DiLeo included—that is, until a doctor removed his son’s brain tumor.

That was the headline and subhead of a recent article in The Houstonia Magazine. And the answer is YES — it’s far past time to reform “tort reform” in Texas. This was a bad law at the time, and age has not made it any better. As intended, it has benefited insurance carriers and large corporations at the expense of ordinary Texans.

Please read this important article. Here are a few paragraphs from it:

“THE WAY OUR SYSTEM SHOULD BE WORKING, and the way it was designed by our founders to work, was this: on a case-by-case basis, judges and citizens would sit and hear evidence, and then weigh it based on the law,” says N. Alex Winslow, the executive director of Texas Watch, an Austin-based bipartisan consumer advocacy group. “And then they would make a decision whether someone was at fault or not, and if so, how much.”

Thus did malpractice cases work their way through Texas courts for the better part of 160 years, from statehood all the way up until the early 2000s, when supporters of tort reform began portraying the state as a “lawsuit mecca” and “judicial hellhole,” wherein “jackpot justice” reigned. Thanks to frivolous lawsuits and the lack of caps on punitive damages, so went the argument, high medical malpractice insurance premiums were forcing doctors to either leave the state or retire early. Hence, the shortage of physicians, particularly in rural areas. And among those who continued to practice, said supporters of tort reform, a fear of lawsuits was driving them to order multitudes of tests, many expensive and unnecessary, which meant higher healthcare costs for everyone.

Clearly it was time to rein in the lawyers, and in this cause the insurance companies joined forces with Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a lobbying group founded by four Houstonians: construction magnate Leo Linbeck Jr., homebuilder Richard Weekley, Richard Trabulsi, a corporate attorney (and now owner of the Richard’s liquor store chain), and Hugh Rice Kelly, Reliant Energy’s former general counsel. In 2003, in an astonishing series of victories, the TLR helped persuade the Texas Legislature to pass a bill capping non-economic damages for malpractice victims at $250,000, and $100,000 at certain public hospitals. Restrictions were also placed on contingency fees (in which lawyers are paid a percentage of what their client wins in court, if anything, rather than collect any money up front), and lawyers were prohibited from being reimbursed for expenses until their clients won—if they won. Tort reform advocates got almost everything they wanted from the legislature, and what they couldn’t get from lawmakers they got from the voters.

“Backers of tort reform knew that the state constitution—not to mention the federal constitution—was very clear that Texans have a right to…go to court and hold someone accountable by presenting evidence to a jury of your peers,” says Winslow. And so, that September, an amendment to the Texas Constitution known as Proposition 12 was put on the ballot. It was voted down in every major metropolitan area in the state, but the rural counties—convinced they would lose what few doctors they still had—voted in favor. By a razor-thin 1.2 percent margin, Prop 12 became law.

“Never have so many who needed so little gained so much,” said Craig Eiland, a former trial attorney turned Democratic state representative for Galveston, two years after Prop 12’s passage.

“When we look back, we know that they knew what they were doing was unconstitutional. That was why they had to amend the constitution in order to do it,” notes Alex Winslow with a bitter laugh.

Accident Waiting to Happen: How to Minimize Risks on the Road

Accident Waiting to Happen How to Minimize Risks on the Road

When you are on the road, you need to be as safe as possible. We all know how even a small crash can change your life. Every step listed below can help you avoid an accident. According to Tanner Law Firm, car accidents are still at the top of the list for most injuries received during a year. Don’t be a distracted driver. Take initiative to change your habits so you can stay safe on the roads.

No Phones
When on the road, you cannot afford to play around with your phone. You can be pulled over for using your phone in many places, and you cannot focus on the road when you are distracted by messages or even phone calls. It is best for you to get a hands-free system for the car. You can wait to send texts until you have stopped, and you can use the hands-free system to make and receive calls. Make a rule that you put your phone away while at the wheel and have passengers make messages for you whenever possible.

Road Rage
Everyone encounters someone on the road who is rude once in a while. However, you must avoid road rage at all costs. If you lose your cool, you could get lax in your driving, and there’s no telling what the other driver may do if they get mad too. Try to relax when behind the wheel. Listen to calming music, and try different techniques for driving better.

Rain and Snow
When you are driving, it is best to avoid heavy rain and snow. You should do non-essential driving only when the weather is better. Make sure you are prepared to drive on slippery roads. Have tire chains on hand, and be sure you have four wheel drive if you frequent off-road or dangerous conditions.

Avoid high speeds whenever you can. There are times when the traffic flow is massive, but you can move at a moderate pace most of the time. This allows you to be safe, and keep control of the car. If you are jetting around at high speeds, you are more likely to be in a crash, and high speeds mean if a crash does happen, you will be more seriously injured. Try to keep to a minimum whenever possible.

Each item above will help you to avoid accidents. Stay alert, and use every tool at your disposal to make sure you can focus on driving. Distracted drivers cause crashes, but wise driving will help you get home safely.

This article is from Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Pilot Preparedness: Do You Have What it Takes to Fly?

Pilot Prepardness Do You Have What it Takes to Be in the Air

OK, this article has almost nothing to do with injury or disability. But in my younger years I gave a lot of thought to getting a pilot’s license, so this was interesting to me. 

Pilots are among the most respected professionals in the world. Their training ensures the safety of millions of travelers each year, as well as the safety of those on the ground. Although the pay is competitive, becoming a pilot is much harder than just learning how to fly. Stiff competition, strict physical health guidelines, and high investment costs are all part of the deterrents facing would-be pilots.

Background in Mathematics and Physics
A large part of flight school is learning the basics of aerodynamics and how it applies to practical flight. A strong background in mathematics and physics helps young pilots analyze fluids, gases, forces, temperature, and weather patterns, all of which are necessary to fly an aircraft. Although mathematics courses above basic college algebra are not often required for flight school, it’s recommended that candidates familiarize themselves with calculus and physics to better understand aerodynamics and meteorology.

Ground School Training
If you’re not ready to jump into a career in aviation just yet, try and find a local airport that offers introductory flying lessons and rides. Seeing if you enjoy flying an aircraft, which is typically covered in the first flight, is the first step to seeing if you should pursue things further. Following your first flight, ground school is the next step. Although flying lessons are recommended by training companies as the next best step, understanding the basics of aviation in a ground school will help make better use of your money in flight school.

If you’re looking to land a job with a major airline carrier, patience will be your friend. While pilots working for major airlines often make six-figure salaries for their dedication to the company, there is an unfortunate overabundance of pilots looking to work in similar positions. The likelihood of working for an airline after obtaining your commercial pilot’s license is slim, and drives many pilots to find work in corporate aviation or agricultural processes like crop dusting.

Investment Costs
Learning to become a pilot privately is often very expensive, which is why many aviators join the military to learn how to fly. After flight training, commitments to the military last about eight years, after which time many pilots choose to stay with the armed services instead of pursuing a career as a commercial airline pilot. There are also many requirements for becoming a pilot. Most airlines and the military require 20/20 vision so it’s good to check with a Londonderry Eye Care clinic, or optometrists in Edmonton first to be sure you can even apply.

Becoming a pilot is a long-term commitment that, while expensive, can pay dividends if you decide to pursue a path as a commercial airline pilot. For those unwilling to take the risk, there are fortunately many other aviation careers that are available to pilots who stray away from the traditional captain’s hat.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger.  She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Friday Fun

This shadow dancing is stunning.

Understanding Your Rights: How To Work Your Way Through The Legal System After Personal Injury

How To Work Your Way Through The Legal System After Personal Injury

When you have been injured on the job, in public, from a car accident or much more, you need to follow simple steps to retain your rights. There are many things you can do after a personal injury, and you must go through the whole process to make sure your rights are kept safe. Here are some tips to make it easier and get started after you have been injured:

Contact A Lawyer

You do not need to sue people for assistance in all cases, but you do need a lawyer as an advocate. A lawyer can investigate your injury, handle the negotiations and work on your behalf with legal filings. Your choice in this area will help the other steps in the process become less daunting for you.

Compile Information

You need to compile all the information you can about your injury. Anything that you can attest to firsthand is going to be helpful. If you were hurt on the job, you want to be able to show that were at work that day. If you were hurt in public, you want to show exactly where you were. If you went to the doctor, you need to show the receipt from the visit. This information aids your case a great deal. Keep a good record of everything from receipts to medical information from doctors.

File A Claim

You need to make sure that you file a claim through worker’s comp when you are hurt at work. You need to file a claim with the city or county when you are hurt in public. These filings can be used as evidence in your claim. If you have not filed a claim, people will wonder why you did not bother to do so, and it can be harder to get all the details worked out related to your injury.


Many people will negotiate with you to reach a settlement, but you must bring your lawyer to the table. Your lawyer can do the negotiations for you, and they can help bring about a settlement. If you have concerns about the negotiations, you can break them off at any time.


Your lawyer can file a lawsuit to receive compensation for your injuries. They can determine what damages you should seek, and they can handle the case in court. They have the expertise and knowledge needed to do this effectively.

Manage Your Money

You want to set up a special account for receiving the money you get from a settlement. There are many times when you need to report your earnings to the court, and you want to have an account that helps you show what the money has done for you.

When you follow all the steps above, you will be able to protect your rights, pay for your injuries and secure the future of your family.

Informational credit to Cummings Andrews Mackay LLP.

This article is courtesy of Anita Ginsburg, a freelance writer from Denver who often writes about home, family, law and business. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing.

What Are The Long-Term Consequences of Getting a DUI?

What are The Long-Term Consequences of Getting a DUI-1

Traffic violations, for speeding and reckless driving, are extremely common. Most people have received a traffic ticket themselves or know someone else who has paid a fine for driving above the speed limit. Surprisingly, the more serious traffic violations, such as driving under the influence, happen just as often. Driving under the influence, or DUI, is among the most common criminal offenses in the United States. This traffic violation has a slew of immediate, short-term consequences. A fine or a suspended license is an expected outcome when an individual is caught driving drunk, but what are the long-term ramifications of a DUI arrest?

Short-term Consequences

It is commonly understood that drinking and driving has serious consequences. After being arrested for a DUI, a driver can expect to pay a hefty fine and have his or her license suspended for a period of time. Depending on the severity of the infraction, a driver may have to complete jail time or probation. Some states may also require a driver convicted of a DUI to complete community service, participate in a drug and alcohol program, or take highway safety classes. These penalties are all temporary hardships for the driver, but, in many cases, the consequences of a DUI arrest can linger on many years afterward.

Long-term Consequences

  • Jail Time and License Revocation: Some of the short-term consequences, such as jail time or license revocation, can turn into long-term consequences if the violation is severe enough. In many states, a driver convicted of a DUI could lose his or her driver’s license for more than a year. Furthermore, if a driver is arrested for DUI more than once, he or she can face mandatory jail time that lasts for several years.
  • Ignition Interlock System: Many states also require the installation of an ignition interlock system. An ignition interlock system is a device that is installed in a vehicle’s dashboard to read the driver’s blood alcohol content, or BAC. If the driver’s BAC exceeds the legal limit the ignition interlock system will prevent the engine from starting. Drivers convicted of DUI may be required to use an ignition interlock system for a year or longer. In addition, the driver is required to pay any installation or rental fees.
  • Increased Insurance: When an individual is charged with a DUI, he or she will undoubtedly face increased insurance premiums. Drivers with DUI convictions are considered “high risk” drivers and are, therefore, more expensive to insure. According to a DUI lawyer from Druyon Law, insurance rates generally increase for at least three years after a first offense, but may increase for longer if the driver is a repeat offender. In some cases, the insurance company may decide to cancel the driver’s policy entirely.
  • Criminal Record: Generally, a DUI conviction is considered a misdemeanor. However, if a driver causes serious injury or death while driving under the influence, or if they have been convicted several times, a DUI can be a felony. Either way, the charges will subsequently appear on the individual’s driving record. Potential employers often conduct background checks and may not hire an individual with a DUI arrest. Many other groups and individuals conduct background checks, such as landlords, volunteer organizations, college admissions boards, and day care providers. Furthermore, in some cases, a driver with a DUI conviction may face job termination. Those who are required to drive, use a company vehicle, or work with children or the elderly, are at a higher risk of losing their job after a DUI conviction.

A DUI arrest can have a significant and lasting effect on an individual’s daily life. From fines to jail time and job termination, the consequences of driving under the influence can be serious and devastating. Most drivers understand the immediate consequences of a DUI arrest, but when deciding whether or not to drive drunk, it is important to remember all of the ways that a DUI conviction can impact one’s life for years to come.

Author Bio: Emma is a freelance writer living in Boston, MA. When not writing, she enjoys reading and indoor rock climbing. Find her on Google +


Legal Issues with Delayed Injuries


In the world of personal injury there are two types of injury: the immediate and the delayed.

·  The immediate injuries are usually the result of a sudden trauma, such as a fall, an automotive collision, or a similar accident. With immediate injuries you know that you have been injured at the moment of the accident, or very shortly after – like feeling whiplash pain the day after a rear-end collision. Immediate injuries also tend to have visible signs, such as bruises, contusions, and broken bones at the site of the injury, so that it is easy to recognize that an injury exists.

·  Delayed injures could be the result of a trauma, but are most often the result of exposure to something dangerous, like asbestos, or a medical mishap, such as the misdiagnosis or mistreatment of an illness. With delayed injuries you might not realize that you have been injured until months, and even years, after the incident. Delayed injuries also tend not to have visible signs at the site of the injury, but signs and symptoms do show up long after the initial incident.

For example, someone who develops mesothelioma from inhaling asbestos dust won’t have any bruising, contusions, or discoloration around the mouth or nose to show where the asbestos entered his body. However, he will develop the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma, such as a cough, and lumps growing under the skin, years later.

People with delayed injuries often have difficulty seeking justice.

Problems with Delayed Injuries

The biggest problem with delayed injuries is that it’s often difficult to pinpoint the cause. For example, mesothelioma can take up to 50 years to develop, so someone who worked for several different companies that used products with asbestos over the years could have a difficult time determining when and where he was exposed. Perhaps he was exposed at all his jobs, or perhaps there was one specific employer that was responsible. If he can’t pinpoint the employer, he might have to file a suit against the entire asbestos industry, which could be very difficult because the companies that make up the industry could band together and hire expensive lawyers to avoid paying.

Another issue is that there are statutes of limitations on personal injuries, and every state is different. The plaintiff has a certain amount of time that he can file after he discovers his injury, and once the deadline has passed he is no longer eligible to file. When the injury is a serious illness, the plaintiff could get so wrapped up in dealing with tests, treatments, and other medical issues, that he misses the deadline.

The final issue is that even if the plaintiff manages to file a suit within the statute of limitations, with a serious and terminal disease like mesothelioma, it’s possible that the plaintiff could die before the case ever goes to court. If that happens, the defendants could move to have the case thrown out, since the injured party is no longer alive, and prevent surviving family members from getting justice on behalf of their loved one.


In most cases, the best solution is for the plaintiff to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as he realizes the injury. There are several different types of personal injury lawyers that specialize in different areas. For example, someone who developed mesothelioma would be better off with an attorney who specializes in asbestos cases than with one who primarily handles medical malpractice.

Another solution is to join or start a class action suit. Class action suits have multiple plaintiffs all suing the same defendant for the same issue. The benefits of a class action suit are:

·  Many law firms do not charge up front for their services. Instead, they take a percentage of the settlement;

·  You have multiple people making the same complaint, which strengthens your case;

·  The case isn’t dependent on one plaintiff, so if any of the plaintiffs die before the case goes to trial, it will be harder to argue throwing it out of court;

·  If a plaintiff dies, his family could still receive his portion of the settlement;

·  Class action suits can be a way around statutes of limitations. Individuals can participate in the class action suit even if, as an individual, they have missed the deadline for the statute of limitations.

This article was written by Jenna Brown. Jenna is a freelance writer who has been blogging on random topics from law to business since her days in college, feel free to e-mail her if you would ever like to have her write for you!

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Michelle Meiklejohn.

NHTSA Issues Warning on Exploding Takata Airbags

takatalogoThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a warning to the drivers of 4.7 million vehicles with recalled Takata airbags, especially those in regions with significant humidity, that they should bring their vehicles to a dealership to have them inspected immediately.
ABC World News reports that the defective airbags can explode, “sending dangerous materials, shards of metal, flying through the car.” ABC calls the warning a “rare move” from NHTSA, though it notes that at least four people have been killed by the airbags. ABC reports that the automakers affected by the recall include Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, and Mitsubishi, and some people who should have received a recall notification have not yet gotten theirs. ABC News also reports on the story online.
NBC Nightly News features David Freidman, Deputy Administrator of NHTSA, who says the warnings are “part of a broader recall. These air bags are defective. And anyone who has one of these vehicles is at risk in a crash.”
The CBS Evening News features Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety who questions why the vehicles have not been recalled across the country, asking “How in the world can you approve a geographic recall that doesn’t include the two states where people have been killed.”
The New York (NY) Times reports in a front page story that Friedman said NHTSA was issuing the warning because “We want to make sure that everyone out there – and we’ve got millions of vehicles involved – is getting engaged and is getting their vehicles fixed to protect themselves and their families.” The Times reports that, much like General Motors’ faulty ignition switches, Toyota and Honda, the automakers with the most cars affected, lack the parts necessary to fix the flaw in all of the recalled vehicles.
Bloomberg News reports that NHTSA said that, after an investigation, “Toyota and Takata have brought forward new test results that underscore the urgency for owners in high-risk areas to take immediate action.” Bloomberg reports that, while the investigation centers on Takata, the agency is also probing how automakers responded to the faulty airbags.
USA Today reports that automakers of affected vehicles are advising owners to avoid having passengers sit in the front-seat until the problem with the airbags is resolved. USA Today reports that 16 million vehicles have been recalled around the world due to the airbags since 2008. NHTSA said on Monday, “At this point, the issue appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity. However, we are leaving no stone unturned in our aggressive pursuit to track down the full geographic scope of this issue.”
The Los Angeles reports that the age of some of the vehicles recalled may make it difficult to track down the current owners of the vehicles.From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Texting and Driving: What Lawmakers and Parents Are Doing to Help

Texting and Driving What Lawmakers and Parents are Doing to Help-1

Texting and driving has been met with action through a number of campaigns. Most people have heard the slogans, but parents and lawmakers are trying to make sure everyone hears the message over and over. These are the things that people are doing to make sure accidents due to texting and driving will go down over time.

Radio Spots
Most people listen to the radio when they are in the car, and radio spots will reach people easily. When you have the radio on, you are going to hear commercials that are designed to keep people from texting and driving. You may be in the middle of a text, and you will hear this commercial come on the radio. This has been a significant help in spreading the word.

Every police officer is looking for people who appear to be texting and driving at the same time. According to Howard Yegendorf & Associates, police officers are pulling people over to find out if they are texting while operating a car. When you see police on the road, you need to remember they have been directed by lawmakers to check up on people who are texting and driving.

Schools are sending out the message to students that they should not be texting and driving. Every kid who walks into a school today has a phone, and many of them are driving to and from school. There are many messages throughout the day that students are hearing about texting and driving.

On The Road
The signs on the road are also spreading the messages about texting and driving. Drivers can see these signs all over roads near their home, and hopefully will be reminded every time a text comes to their phone. The campaigns by motor vehicle accidents lawyers in Ottawa and around the world have been increased to make sure people are not texting and driving, and the campaigns are getting more aggressive at every street corner.

Lawmakers and parents are making great strides in preventing texting and driving by directing law enforcement to make sure they stop people who appear to be texting and driving. Parents are sending the message to their kids to make sure they are being safe. People everywhere are finding ways to stop deaths and accidents that occur due to phone use. We’ve had too many examples of how dangerous this activity can be.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger.  She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Prevent Diving Injuries in Your New Pool


Each year, thousands of children between the ages of 1 and 3 suffer near-drowning injuries or drowning deaths in residential pools and spas, reports PoolSafety.gov. These injuries are preventable if families take precautions to ensure the safety of their young ones.

In-ground pools

Do you have an in-ground pool? Are you thinking about putting one in your yard? In-ground pools are great if you want to have a diving pool. The American Red Cross has studied spinal cord and neck injuries caused by unsafe diving; most neck and spinal cord injuries occur in water less than six feet deep. The American Red Cross suggests diving pools should be a minimum of nine feet deep.

When you are considering a diving pool, you need to make sure the pool will be deep enough to meet safety standards and to prevent injuries. Roughly, diving pools consist of 1/3 shallow end, 1/3 slope and 1/3 deep end. You must also consider the slope of the pool to gradually progress into the deep end. Having an in-ground diving pool limits the amount of play space you have. If you want a pool people can easily stand in for a game of volleyball, you probably shouldn’t get a diving pool.

Safety Measures

Fencing is always a good option for families with small children and is mandatory in many areas. If you plan to install a fence around your pool area, it needs to be at least four feet tall and the gaps in the fence need to be small enough so a child cannot slip between the bars.

Pool covers are a good line of defense if you don’t want to put fencing up in your yard. Pool covers come in different varieties and can help you save on energy costs and keep your pool clean as well as keeping your children safe. If your pool cover is on an automatic rolling system, keep controls out of reach from your kids so they can’t pull the cover back themselves.

Put signs up noting the depth of different spots in your pool. Place NO DIVING signs by the shallow ends and depth signs in each portion. You can also put up pool rule signs around the pool deck so your family and visitors can easily read them. Kids are not always the best listeners so the added NO DIVING sign can be a big help.

Jump Board vs Diving Board

It is important to know the difference between jump boards and diving boards. A jump board is a board on a stand with a spring while a diving board is a board on a stationary stand without a spring. Diving boards do not have a lot of spring or bounce to limit the risk of injury that could happen during a dive.

Diving boards are different and individual to each pool’s shape and size. You should consult a professional to ensure that your diving board is the right size, weight and properly anchored for your pool.

Follow safety instructions

The best way to prevent any pool injury is to follow safety rules. If you are not a strong swimmer, you shouldn’t swim unattended in the deep end. If your children are just learning to swim, give them floaties to prevent drowning accidents.

If you are considering installing a pool, consult experts like those at In The Swim to make sure you are covering your safety bases. You shouldn’t try to install a pool or diving board on your own or with uncredited businesses. You want the work done right so work with a respectable team that you know will follow regulations. We can all be safer around the pool and following safety instructions is the best way to do that.

This article is from Katie Selph. Katie is a freelance writer living in Phoenix. She attended the University of Arizona where she received a Bachelors degree in Creative Writing. She currently does marketing and communications work for The Phoenix Chorale and Mesa Arts Center. She has a passion for writing, arts organizations and nonprofit work.


List of ICD-9 Codes

Our law firm, when handling personal injury or Social Security disability cases, has to deal with the International Classification of Diseases codes daily. The codes are abbreviated as ICD codes, and the latest is version nine. So ICD-9 codes.

You can find a complete list of the codes at Wikipedia. Here is a sample:

The following is a list of codes for International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.

Friday Fun

You’ve heard of a “New York Minute.” Here it is, literally:

New York Minute from The Cleverkids on Vimeo.

Knowing Your Legal Rights After Suffering Injury from Auto Collision


When you are a victim in an auto accident you may be surprised to know that the settlement you receive may vary differently depending on unrelated things. Did you know that the results can be different if you are in a car, truck or motorcycle accident?  Did you know that what you say to the police officer taking down the report can hold sway?  As a victim, you need to be mindful of everything. Here are some things you should be aware of when you are in an auto accident.


Liability is a tricky thing because every accident scenario can vary, states Nolo experts. Typically the one “at fault” is the one who’s liable. But in certain circumstances you may not even be anywhere near the scene and still be liable. If your employee is driving the company car and they rearend someone while on the clock, you would be the one who’s liable. And if you’re on the other side of this type of scenario and you are struck by a company car don’t automatically assume that they will pay you out what’s owed. Always demand that there be a police officer there to take down a report and make sure you are clear about what’s happened.

Legal Rights

Another area to be concerned about is your legal rights following a traffic accident. Turn the car off right after the accident has taken place. See how many witnesses you can get to stick around and make a statement to the police. Make sure the other driver is okay but then be sure to take down their vehicle license plate number and take as many pictures as you can while waiting for police. Make sure to tell the officer exactly what happened. They will handle the exchange of insurance information and they will write up a report. There may be points of contention. Right now you’re just looking to protect your rights. Try and get an insurance estimate as soon as possible and make sure you submit all the proper paperwork while keeping all your receipts and copies.

Medical Treatment

If you are hurt you should get treated right away. The DMV provides a detailed guide on how to evaluate personal injury at the scene of an accident. Make sure to stop any bleeding, wrap anything that’s in pain, and wait for emergency personnel to arrive in case you need to get to an emergency room. Make sure to get treated for everything that could be related to this incident. If you get a lawyer involved, experts at Winters and Yonker state that they should handle ensuring you receive evaluation and treatment assessed in a timely manner, that there is complete recovery physically and financially, and that they provide both insurers of all the details that need to be included to ensure proper recovery and compensation. So whether you involve a lawyer or it’s mild enough to handle on your own, keep all your originals of the paperwork and send them everything they ask for.


A final thing about settlements you can never tell is just how damaged were you? How bad was your car impacted? How much were you impacted? How did this change your life? It’s always wisest to err on the side of caution rather than trying to be the hero and grin and bear it. You will have a far more difficult time getting recompense for a post-settlement injury than if you dealt with it when it happens.

The Intern: What to Expect from Your Internship with a Law Firm

The Intern - What to Expect from Your Internship with a Law Firm

Finding a career in law is becoming increasingly more difficult and competitive. Having a degree next to your name no longer guarantees you an interview, let alone a full time job. Obtaining internships while studying for your degree is a crucial component to later landing a job, and can often help open your eyes to new career paths within the law industry. Whether you’re about to start an internship at a law firm, or plan to complete an internship later on in your schooling, there are a few things you should be prepared for. Read on to learn about what you should expect during your internship at a law firm.

Little Glitz and Glamour
TV shows and movies often show law interns being chosen to help with murder cases and high profile lawsuits on their first day. Reality? A lot of paperwork, behind-the-scenes requests, and coffee runs. Everyone has to work their way up. While the firm might be involved in exciting or historic cases, you’ll likely have minimal responsibilities due to your lack of experience. However, an internship is a great way to gain a little experience, and might give you a ringside seat to some thrilling cases. Even if you are given minimal responsibilities and mundane tasks, go the extra mile be the best intern possible. If you act as if the job is beneath you, your superiors likely won’t give you more responsibility in the future.

As previously stated, the law field is extremely competitive, and the internships will be no exception. Be prepared to put your best foot forward each and every day and look for ways that you can go above and beyond normal intern duties. As an intern, you are disposable to the firm so if you aren’t performing to the best of your abilities, there will be a dozen law school students waiting for your job. Appreciate the chance to gain experience, and be sure that your employer gets the sense that you are grateful and ready to work.

Insight to New Areas of the Law
You may start an internship thinking you’ll end up in criminal law and end it with a passion for contract law. The whole point of internships is to gain experience pre-career, so try and learn as much as you can about various topics so you can reevaluate your goals and make sure you know what you want to pursue. Be open to other areas of the law, and as you gain experience, you might find a hidden passion along the way. This is why a general legal internship at a law firm can be beneficial early on in law school.

No Guaranteed Offers
Many assume that if they do a good job at their internship, they will be offered a position at the firm. Unfortunately, this is not the case—many firms will ask you back for another internship or to follow up with them throughout the year before extending an official offer. Don’t be discouraged by this, just be aware. When you are hired as an intern, your employer might not give you any sense for what will happen after you’ve completed the internship, so you will probably have to roll with the punches.

A large component of many law internships is research—helping research for cases or trial prep, analyzing previous cases, deductive reasoning, etc. If this isn’t a particularly strong suit for you, definitely take some time and prepare before your first day. You’ll learn a lot about legal research that will come in handy in your schooling when you have to take research classes. The opposite is also true—any research classes you’ve taken before your internship will likely provide you with a base knowledge that will come in handy as you aid with research for the firm.

An internship at a law firm is extremely coveted and will often serve as a stepping stone for your future job. It is a crucial element for not only gaining experience within the field, but also for narrowing down your area of focus in the industry. As with any opportunity, the internship will be what you make of it, so go in with your best foot forward and start contributing from day one. The information for this article was provided by the professionals at George Washington University paralegal schools who offer online legal degree programs.

This article is from Ms. Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves writing for business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.

Studies Highlight Dangers of Vehicle Voice-Activated Infotainment Systems

Two new studies on distracted driving released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah were covered by all three network evening newscasts, the AP and a few other news outlets. The research found that vehicle voice-activated infotainment systems may be adding to driver distraction. For its part, the CBS Evening News reported that the research “contradicts the belief that hands-free systems” in vehicles “are always safer than hands-on devices.” The report mentions that one of the studies includes “rankings to the voice systems sold by the major car manufacturers.”

Additionally, NBC Nightly News reported the research found that hands-free technology designed “to keep our hands on the wheel can actually take our mind off the road.” According to the report, AAA said the “least distracting system” is “Toyota’s Entune with a 1.7 ranking.” It added that the most distracting system is the “Chevy MyLink with a 3.7 ranking.”

Meanwhile, ABC World News reported the auto industry is arguing that the study doesn’t “link hands free systems to more accidents.”

The AP reports one of the studies analyzed infotainment systems “in some of the most common auto brands on the road: Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai and Mercedes.” Meanwhile, the second study examined the iPhone’s Siri voice system to send texts, navigate, make social media posts and “use the calendar without handling or looking at the phone.” The report points out that the NHTSA is working on developing guidelines for voice-activated systems and mobile phones, noting that the guidelines are voluntary. After noting that vehicle infotainment systems are not regulated, Deborah Hersman, National Safety Council President and former NTSB Chairman, said, “It is like the Wild West, where the most critical safety feature in the vehicle — the driver — is being treated like a guinea pig in human trials.”

The Chicago Tribune reports any activity, which isn’t “directly related to driving…represents a potential distraction and safety risk, according to previous research by” several groups including, AAA, the NTSB, and the National Safety Council.

CBS News reports online that the studies “examined the level of distraction drivers face using hands-free or voice command features.”

Also covering the story in a similar manner as the sources above are USA TodayConsumer ReportsCBS News, the Los Angeles TimesNBC News, and The Car Connection.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Free Social Security Disability Fact Sheet


Social Security expert Tom Margenau has written another fact sheet — this time on Social Security disability. You can get a copy by e-mailing him at the address at the bottom of this article.

Here are excerpts from his description of the fact sheet:

First, there is an introduction that discusses the subjective nature of the disability program. Unlike Social Security retirement and survivor benefits, which have very cut and dried eligibility factors and evidentiary requirements, disability, by its very nature, can be a very wishy-washy subject. In other words, exactly how disabled is too disabled to qualify for benefits? And this lack of eligibility clarity is compounded by the fact that what one person considers a disabling condition is very different from what someone else may consider a disabling condition. The Social Security Administration tries to objectify the process by establishing disability criteria for each of the hundreds of different kinds of physical and mental impairments that may afflict a person. But despite their best efforts, the ultimate decision about whether a person is disabled or not is usually subjective.

The next section of my new fact sheet explains that SSA administers two entirely different disability programs that are often confused with one another. First, there is Social Security disability benefits. To qualify for these, you must be “insured,” which means you must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a prescribed period of time. Then there is the Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, disability program. SSI is a welfare program (funded out of general tax revenues, not Social Security taxes). So to qualify for SSI, your income and assets must be below certain levels.

The next section defines disability. It primarily explains that the inability to work, not just the disabling impairment itself, is the key to qualifying for benefits. For example, there are many people with disabilities (someone who is blind or someone confined to a wheelchair, for example) who have productive careers and are working full time. Even though such a person is “disabled,” he or she would not qualify for Social Security or SSI disability benefits. But if you are unable to engage in what the law calls “substantial gainful activity” for at least a year or more, then you can usually be considered disabled.

Another part of the fact sheet takes on the topic of disabled children. In a nutshell, the rules say that the minor children of a retired, disabled or deceased worker will get monthly dependent’s benefits until age 18. But benefits can continue beyond that age, and even into adulthood, if a child is disabled. And some disabled children from poor families may qualify for SSI disability benefits.

Yet another section discusses the effect that other public or private benefits have on the Social Security disability program. Most have no impact, with one notable exception. There is a law that says the combination of your Social Security disability benefit and any state worker’s compensation you get cannot exceed 80 percent of your average salary before you became disabled. If they do, then one or the other will be reduced.

The next part of the fact sheet provides a very brief overview of the work incentive provisions of the Social Security disability program. In brief, the rules allow a person getting disability benefits to try working and earning some money (for a while) without impacting their eligibility for monthly payments.

And finally, there are tips on how to report alleged fraud. Even though Social Security disability eligibility criteria are generally considered very stringent and exclusionary (in other words, it is quite difficult to get benefits in the first place), sometimes it seems that everyone claims to know a neighbor or uncle or sister-in-law who is getting disability but doesn’t deserve them. If you know such an alleged fraudster, this section tells you how to turn them in.

To get a free digital copy of this disability fact sheet, send an email to me at thomas.margenau@comcast.net.

GM Asking Customers To Have Faulty Ignition Switches Replaced

In continuing coverage of GM’s faulty ignition switch defect which has been responsible for at least 24 deaths, ABC News reports that the company is “urging [owners of recalled vehicles] to get the switches replaced.” ABC reports that the company is making phone calls and has sent Facebook messages to owners attempting to get them to bring their car in. ABC notes that “CEO Mary Barra says in some cases GM has gone to owners’ homes to get the vehicle, providing a loaner car while the fix is made.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Take it to Court: How to Win Your Personal Injury Case

Take it to Court, How to Win Your Personal Injury Case

A personal injury case can begin the moment after you are injured. Preparing for eventual legal action requires you to become aware of every detail. What you say and what you do in the minutes, hours and days following an injury can have a profound impact on your ability to prevail in any potential legal action.

Do Your Research

The first step is to become educated and informed. There are many resources available. Among them is Nolo Press, based in Berkeley, California. Nolo publishes self-help legal information booklets on a variety of subjects from real estate to business law. One of their most popular is How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim by Joseph Matthews. The information in this book is geared for those who view legal action as a last resort, but who want to be prepared for any eventuality. You can even check the Nolo website for condensed legal information.

Bar Associations

Secondly, and likely as valuable as Nolo’s books, is your local bar association. Not only can the bar association provide an attorney referral, but they can be a source of detailed and precise advice on what steps to take to make sure your rights are protected. Many bar associations devote considerable resources to community outreach. These initiatives include pro-bono (free) legal work, but they also include general legal advice applicable to many different kinds of cases and recommendations for injured parties who ultimately may not need the services of an attorney.

Consider Pushing for a Settlement

Third, it should be well understood that insurance companies, potential defendants and the legal system all prefer cases be settled before they get to court. In the long run, litigation is far more expensive than reasoned and equitable settlement of a claim. Obtaining compensation is more important than being able to say you “won” a case. However, in some cases, litigation is necessary. Whether you need a truck accident lawyer in Denver or a medical malpractice case in California, be sure to weigh the costs of litigation versus the settlement amount on the table.

Consultation Opportunities

When hiring an attorney, take advantage of their free consultations. Make sure the attorney is engaged in your case and make doubly sure they are asking pertinent questions. The fastest road to a dismissal or judgment for the defendant is a disinterested plaintiff’s attorney. Once retained, even on a contingency basis, an attorney has a legal obligation to be a “zealous” advocate for their client. Make sure your attorney takes the necessary steps to qualify for that description.

Your most important task is to recognize you need assistance and to do what is necessary to obtain it as quickly as possible. Every day that goes by without progress can negatively affect your case. Be sure you don’t abandon your rights with inaction.

Information Source: ColoradoLaw.Net

About the author: A recent college graduate from University of San Francisco, Anica Oaks loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

Friday Fun

I can’t say this map is fun, but it sure is fascinating. The changing map of Europe — from the year 1000 until today.