An experienced attorney carrying on a tradition of trust, skilled advocacy, and integrity.............
Enforcing the rights of: The disabled, the injured motorist,
and the injured worker.
2) How much am I entitled to in workers' compensation benefits?
a. Weekly tax-free disability benefits are calculated by applying your average weekly wage (average of highest 39 of 52 weeks prior to injury) to the rate formula of 80% of your after-tax weekly wage. The calculation is usually made by a computerized program; however, in very general terms the rate often is close to 2/3 of your gross average weekly wage. Recent decisions by the Michigan Supreme Court and appellate court panels threaten to reduce the weekly disability rate by the worker's residual (remaining) earning capacity.
3) What kind of injuries are compensable?
a. Of course, specific event injuries such as trip and falls, vehicular accidents on the job, and injuries caused by lifting heavy objects are covered by the workers compensation laws. Other types of injuries, such as repetitive use syndromes (arthritis, carpal tunnel, degenerative discs) are also covered if the employment has contributed to the syndrome in a significant fashion. Even pre-existing injuries and diseases are covered if the work injury has resulted in a worsened condition which is distinguishable from the prior condition.
4) When I am off work and being treated for my work injury do I have to look for other work/jobs?
a. Under current law interpreted by the Michigan Supreme Court an injured worker must demonstrate “a loss of wage earning capacity” in order to collect weekly disability benefits. Thus, in most situations, he/she should look for work within the physical restrictions. Thus, the worker either earns wages or demonstrates there are no jobs available which pay wages at or near the worker’s previous wage level.
5) If I take another job when I am still disabled from my original job and earn less money, am I entitled to my partial wage loss?
a. Yes, if you work on a “light job” because of your injury restrictions you are entitled to “partial” benefits if you earn less than the average which you earned at the original job.
6) Am I entitled to a “lump sum” of money when I am injured on the job?
a. The law provides for weekly payments and medical costs, but many cases are “settled” in a “redemption” of all benefits if and when the injured worker and the employer's insurance company agree to do so.
7) Should I settle my case for a lump sum “redemption”?
a. Severity of injury, job prospects, age, other benefits paid or available, Medicare/Medicaid liens, disputed issues and employer’s defenses are some of the important factors to consider when deciding whether to “settle” the case and at what level or amount. Not all settlements are wise decisions. Experienced attorneys should provide advice as to whether and in what ways settlements can benefit you.
Automobile Accident Injuries:
1) What is the “No-Fault” insurance system in Michigan?
a. In Michigan every car crash which produces personal injury or death results in certain benefits payable by an insurance company regardless of who is at fault. These benefits include medical costs, wage loss, attendant care, replacement services and funeral expenses. When the crash results in serious injuries, there are damages which are collectible based on “fault” or “negligence” of the driver and car owner. These damages include pain and suffering, mental shock and anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of earnings and earning capacity.
2) Who decides what benefits and damages I am entitled to if I am injured by someone else’s fault?
a. Ultimately, a judge or civil jury will decide cases where you and the insurance company do not agree on a settlement value. The lawsuit will first go through a “case evaluation” where a panel of three lawyers make a recommendation and evaluation as to the “settlement” value of the case. Many cases are resolved using a procedure called "facilitative mediation." But, when all pre-trial efforts to settle have failed, a judge or 6-member civil jury decides the case.
1) Who is entitled to "damages" when a person dies from the negligence of another person or corporation?
a. Under Michigan's "wrongful death" law, certain persons are entitled to "loss of society and companionship" damages, including specified "next of kin", i.e., spouse, children, parents, grandparents and siblings.
2) What are wrongful death damages?
a. If the deceased experienced "conscious pain and suffering" from the injury before dying, the "estate" of the decedent is entitled to damages for the pain and suffering. The "next of kin" (see above) are entitled to the damages representing their loss of relationship, love, companionship.
Dangerous Premises Injuries:
1) If I am injured by a dangerous condition while shopping (i.e., slippery floor, obstruction in walkway, defective stairway in a store) is the store liable for my injury, including medical costs, pain and suffering and loss of income?
a. A storeowner has a heightened duty to maintain its premises for the safety of its customers and to remedy any dangerous conditions. However, the Michigan Supreme Court has developed the “open and obvious danger” doctrine which defends commercial store owners. This doctrine, which has some special exceptions, holds that if the dangerous condition in a commercial setting can be seen by a reasonable person, the store does not owe a duty to that customer and may not be liable for the injuries caused by the dangerous condition. As ridiculous as that sounds, the law in Michigan has drastically limited claims against commercial property and shopkeepers. There are exceptions to the “open and obvious” doctrine and it is important to develop a case against the shopkeeper showing active negligence. Experienced legal counsel is necessary to pursue commercial premises liability claims, especially since Michigan appellate courts have attempted to severely limit these types of claims.
2) Is a landlord responsible for injuries to tenants caused by poorly maintained stairs and walkways?
a. Michigan law imposes a special duty on landlords to provide safe premises and tenants. Tenants and visitors are entitled to damages when they are injured because the landlord has breached that duty.
Social Security Disability:
1) Is age an important factor in a Social Security Disability claim?
a. The age of a claimant is very important under the Social Security regulations in the process of determining whether disability benefits are payable. For instance, it may be easier to obtain Social Security benefits for a 55-year-old person with a physical impairment than a 35-year-old person with the same physical impairment. This is because Social Security regulations recognize that older individuals have, in addition to physical impairments, certain vocational obstacles to gainful employment.
2) What are Social Security Disability benefits?
a. Social Security benefits are available to a disabled person who has paid into the Social Security system through taxes and include monthly payments and Medicare coverage. For individuals who have not paid into the system and are not, therefore, “insured” for Social Security Disability benefits may receive another type of benefit called Supplemental Security Income benefits, or “SSI” which pays a lower monthly benefit to the claimant and typically provides Medicaid coverage.
3) If I am turned down by the Social Security Administration what is my next step in enforcing my rights?
a. After the initial denial of benefits a claimant has 60 days to appeal the decision to an Administrative Law Judge hearing at which he or she can present testimony and medical and other documentary evidence of the disability. After an Administrative Law Judge's decision the claimant has 60 days within which to further appeal his case to the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration. If the Appeals Council continues the denial of benefits, the next step for the claimant is an appeal to the United States Federal District Court. All of these steps on appeal should be handled by experienced legal counsel.
4) Do national advertising disability firms provide the best representation?
a. In many cases national firms and lawyers who advertise will not provide the office conferences, personal appearances and effective representation that can be better provided by a local experienced attorney familiar with the Administrative Law Judges in the local offices.
The Choice of a Lawyer:
The most reliable method of finding the best attorney for you and your family is a combination of referral from other clients, from local reputation and from a personal interview/consultation with the attorney (not a "runner" who solicits business by police reports!). Do not be "hustled" into retaining an attorney when you are still traumatized by your injury. Responsible and professional attorneys do not pressure or hurry your important decision.
1) How about those "TV Lawyers"?
a. Only one thing is certain about the "TV Lawyers"; they are dedicated to advertising. Whether they are dedicated to a close, personal relationship with their clients, whether they provide the best communication and legal knowledge, familiarity with local courts, and whether they will be "with" you in your fight for your rights is not certain.
1) Are Ryan & Ryan consultations free?
a. Yes, consultations are free for personal injury, worker's compensation, and Social Security Disability cases.
You can trust us to fight for your rights
At Ryan & Ryan, we believe in helping you, our clients with solid and aggressive legal support and advice, while being compassionate and empathetic. We have decades of experience serving the people of Kalamazoo and Coldwater, Michigan.
1) Can I sue my employer for pain and suffering?
a. With very rare exceptions, Michigan law prevents you from recovering for pain and suffering. You are limited to workers compensation benefits which are: (1) reasonable and necessary medical costs for treatment of the injury, (2) weekly wage loss benefits during your period of disability, and (3) vocational rehabilitation in certain cases. Pain and suffering can require medical care and can result in disability, thus triggering the payment of workers compensation benefits.
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