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Keep Up to Date

Check back regularly to stay informed of landmark decisions and relevant proceedings, as well as news from our legal offices. 

INJURED AND NEED HELP?

Injured and cannot work. What do you do? As with many legal questions, the answer is it depends. First, it depends on where you live. Each state has totally different laws. Second, it depends on how you were injured.

 

In Michigan, a person who is injured on the job is entitled to worker's compensation benefits. If you are injured in an automobile accident, you are probably entitled to "no-fault" benefits that include medical care and wage loss replacement. Otherwise, a person must be able to show that someone else caused their injury. Additionally, there may be disability insurance (often called "short term disability", "long term disability" or "sick and accident benefits").

 

Throughout the United States a person can also obtain help from the federal government in the form of social security benefits.

 

In the next post, we will discuss the different definitions of the word "disability" in order to collect worker's compensation, disability insurance, and social security.

 

This is for information only. Each person's situation is different. You should call us at 1-800-541-3000 for a free consultation and a complete explanation of your rights.

Are You Disabled?

The definition of disability can vary in every area of the law.

 

If you have a disability insurance policy (either provided by yourself or your employer), the definition of disability is controlled by the policy itself.

 

Worker's compensation is controlled by state law. Each state is different. In Michigan, disaiblity is defined as a job caused or aggravated injury or illness that resutls in the inability to work at a person's maximum earning capacity, based upon their qualifications. Usually, this is the job they were performing at the time of the injury. To collect Michigan worker's compensation, you must be off of work more than 7 days.

 

Social security is a federal law that is applicable in every state. Disability is defined as havng an objectively manifested injury that has lasted or can expect to last for a continuous period of more than 12 months and result in a person's inability to engage in substantial gainful activity based upon their age, education and work experience. For a person between the ages of 18 to 50, this usually means a person must be totally disabiled and unable to perform all unskilled jobs that exist in the national economy.

 

 Next we will explore the definition of disbled in Michigan worker's compensation.

 

This is for information only. Each person's situation is different. You should call us at 1-800-541-3000 for a free consultation and a complete explanation of your rights.

Novi Judge Under Investigation

A Novi District Court Judge is under investigation for improper conduct. A 58 page complaint was filed against him by the State of Michigan. A formal hearing will be held to determine if he is guilty and the punishment.

 

See the full story at http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014306100162

STAND YOUR GROUND

Michigan does not recognize Stand Your Ground as a defense. In Florida, though, the rule seems to allow people to shoot and kill other people. Recently, the verdict came down in the Michael Dunn case.

 

Michael Dunn drove is car into a parking lot. He parked next to a car that was playing loud rap music. He got out of his car and asked the music to be turned down. The 17 year old driver of the car turned the music off. Dunn then went into the glove box of his car and pulled out a gun. He fired 9 times at the vehicle with the 17 year old driver. Several shots were fired as the vehicle was attempting to escape the area.

 

As a result of the shooting the 17 year old driver was killed. Nonetheless, Michael Dunn was found not guilty of killing him. The jury ruled he acted in self defense based upon Stand Your Ground.

 

An interesting note is that there were 3 passengers in the 17 year olds vehicle. The passengers were not killed and Michael Dunn was found guilty of attempted murder of these three people. At least in Florida, it seems the law believes it is better to kill someone, than attempt to kill someone and fail.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Is your social security affected by the government shutdown today? The federal government promises to continue paying social security checks to all recipients. Additionally, medicare benefits will continued to be paid to medical providers to allow people to obtain necessary medical treatment.

 

If you have a new disability case, social security will process your application. If you have been recently denied social security disability, your appeal will be processed. Hearings by Administrative Law Judges will continue, but a recent memo indicates that cases will not be scheduled in the future. 

 

Administrative Law Judge's will continue to decide cases, but decision writing will be discontinued. This suggests that a decision on a social security appeal will be delayed.

 

Go to the following web site for more information: http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/shutdown2013.pdf

60 MINUTES AND SOCIAL SECURITY

Recently, CBS aired an episode on 60 minutes about social security disability recipients. The episode was factually inaccurate and one-sided. Simply, it was an unjust portrayal of the disadvantaged, and disabled people of this country. For a better perspective, see the recent article in the LA Times that labels 60 Minutes attack as "shameful".

 

COURT OF CLAIMS IN MICHIGAN

                The Court of Claims has handled cases filed against the State of Michigan. For many years, Michigan law provided that the judges of Ingham County (sitting in Lansing) are assigned Court of Claims cases. This week Governor Snyder signed Public Act 164 that moves the Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit Court to the Court of Appeals. It also expands the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims to more than cases involving monetary damages.

                The Republicans argued that the system needed to be changed, even though it functioned very well for many years. Their reason was that state-wide, elected judges should hear cases against the State of Michigan, and not judges that are elected by the citizens of Ingham County. The true purpose of the law seems to be to remove Court of Claim cases from Ingham County judges, who are mostly in favor of individual rights, to the more conservative judges of the Court of Appeals. The problem with the law is that the Court of Appeals does not hear trials and is not suited for trial work. On the other hand, Ingham County judges hears trials all the time.

                For now, the Michigan Supreme Court has appointed 4 judges to the Court of Appeals. Two are Democrats and two are Republicans. These judges are appointed for a two year term. What the composition of the Court of Claims in two years is anybody’s guess. The bigger question is how will this affect hundreds of cases that are filed against the State of Michigan and the rights of those people who file those cases.

INDIAN CASINOS

This week the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Michigan v Bay Mills Indian Community. The issue in the case is sovereign immunity. Federal law provides that Indian tribes cannot be sued (except by the federal government) without their permission. In the case before the Court, the State of Michigan wants to sue an Indian tribe from placing a casino on land that is not Indian territory.

The case could potentially have a major impact on Indian tribes. Currently, individuals have to go to “Tribal Court” and do not have access to Michigan courts in many cases. For example, an employee of an Indian casino cannot file for worker’s compensation benefits. They must file a claim in the tribal court, thus denying an injured worker to access to Michigan law, even though he was injured while working in Michigan.

The United States Supreme Court case will probably be resolved in 2014.

INTERNET UNDER ATTACK?

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Michigan) is hearing an important case on the liability of websites for false information posted their website. The case centers around a 1996 federal law that protects websites from lawsuits about false information posted on the website. In this particular case, a federal judge in Kentucky allowed a lawsuit to continue. The case proceeded to a jury verdict that resulted in an award with a note that the post was malicious or posted with reckless disregard.

 

The website www.thedirty .com posted an anonymous post that provided false information about the sexual history of Sarah Jones, a teacher, who had been convicted of having sex with a teenager. The teacher claimed that the information was false and she suffered emotional distress as a result.  The jury found  in favor of Ms. Jones.

Large internet companies are concerned that the case will affect free speech on the internet.

 

The case should be decided in 2014.

MICHIGAN TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE

The Michigan Senate voted 24 to 14 to increase the minimum wage in Michigan from $7.40 per hour to $9.20 per hour. The bill still has to pass the Michigan House and be signed by Governor Snyder.

MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT ELECTION 2014

On November 4, 2014, three seats of the Michigan Supreme Court are up for election. In order to protect the rights of the individual, including the rights of injured workers and the disabled, we endorse Richard Bernstein, William Murphy and Deborah Thomas for the Michigan Supreme Court.

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