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  • Photos speak louder than words: document a car accident with pictures

    Woman with technician help smoking car engine

    In 2013, 988 people were killed in 892 motor vehicle accidents in Illinois. In 2012, the national figure reached 33,561 fatalities and 2,362,000 injuries as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  With the incredibly high prevalence of these accidents, every car crash lawyer knows that nearly every individual in the U.S. is statistically likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident at least one time in their lives. Knowing this, motorists should be prepared and know what to do if an accident occurs. Chief on the list, other than providing initial medical attention to those in need, is documenting everything. One of the most accurate, fastest and most reliable forms of documentation is the photograph.

    What is important?

    When at the scene of a car accident, most drivers are unaware of what exactly is important and should be mentioned to an attorney, and what is not necessary or helpful. The answer is simple and easy to remember: everything is important. Accident attorneys need to know everything about an accident site without ever having been there and sometimes without even seeing the damaged vehicles.

    Unless an accident victim is also an attorney, they likely do not immediately know what is important and what is not. Even attorneys may miss something if they are selective in their photographs, so it is essential that parties take as many photos as possible. Crash victims can help create a more accurate view of the scene with a greater number of photographs, and with digital cameras and cell phones, there are no extra costs associated with taking extra photos. Taking a thorough set of pictures to ensure that nothing was missed is the smart thing to do.

    Specifics

    While everything is important and should be documented, there are a few areas on which motorists should focus. Any areas of obvious damage on all vehicles should be completely photographed. Motorists should include photos of each corner of the vehicles as well as the four faces. Close up photographs of damage, set next to something like a ruler or penny for scale, can help shed light on an accident as well. Other important specifics that should be photographed include vehicle license plates and interior damage to the vehicles.

    Vehicle positions

    One of the most vital photographs a victim can take is the position of the vehicles immediately following the crash. If able, motorists should always take these photos including landmarks, street lights, signs or any other feature that would help investigators understand the location of the vehicles when they came to rest. If the accident was severe enough to warrant it, photos of debris, vehicle parts and skid marks can also help recreate the scene.

    Following an accident, injured parties should seek the counsel of an Illinois personal injury attorney. With an attorney’s help, accident victims can receive compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, time away from work and lost time with family.

     

     

  • Fatal accidents involving cyclists ranks Illinois No. 5 in the nation

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    A common sight for auto accident attorneys

    The News-Gazette reports that a man was recently killed while riding his bike to work early one morning. The cyclist, a 53 year old Arthur man, was riding southbound on a road around 2 miles south of Arthur when he was struck by a car. The motorist was heading north and attempting to pass another northbound cyclist when he drifted left of center and failed to see the cyclist that he hit. The motorist was cited for improper overtaking and an investigation by the Illinois State Police is pending. This is the type of accident that Illinois auto accident attorneys see on a regular basis.

    A deadly place for cyclists

    A new report issued by the Governors Highway Association in its annual Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety ranked the five states which had the highest rates of bicyclist fatalities. The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois ranked number five on the list, making it one of the most dangerous places in the nation in which cyclists can ride. The report also shed light on the rise of fatal accidents in the cycling community. From 2010 to 2012, the number of annual bicyclist deaths has increased 16 percent. Additionally, the six states that had the greatest fatality rates also accounted for 54 percent of all cyclist deaths nationwide. These states are California, Florida, Texas, New York, Illinois and Michigan.

    Cyclist deaths are also increasing at higher rates than any other motor-vehicle-related fatalities. From 2010 to 2012, overall car crash deaths increased by just one percent. However, in 2012, bicyclist fatalities made up 2.2 percent of all motor vehicle-related fatalities.

    National Complete Streets Coalition

    Some community leaders, such as the campaign director for the Active Transportation Alliance, believe that Illinois streets and bike paths contribute to the problem of rising fatalities and accidents. Urban centers are some of the most unfriendly areas for cyclists, and these places account for 69 percent of all bicyclist deaths each year. Smart Growth America has created the Dangerous By Design report in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of most U.S. streets for pedestrians and cyclists. The report found that Illinois had 1,488 pedestrian deaths from 2003 to 2012, and many of those deaths could be attributed to roads built primarily for motorist access while ignoring the needs of the cycling and walking populations.

    Those who have been injured or who have had a loved one die as the result of a bicycle accident caused by a negligent motorist should contact an Illinois personal injury attorney. With their help, accident victims are more likely to receive the compensation that they need in order to heal and get back to riding the streets of Illinois.

  • Chronic pain not uncommon with car accidents

    sad little girl sitting against the wall

    A car accident in Chicago can leave lasting effects

    When motorists are involved in an accident, they can sustain serious, life-altering injuries. Those who suffer a car accident in Chicago they are no exception. When bodies endure such severe injuries, they rarely heal enough to take them back to the same condition they were in prior to a crash. This can lead to many people suffering for years or decades with chronic pain related to their accident injuries.

    According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, chronic pain occurs when the pain signals coming from an individual’s nervous system fail to stop firing. This would be similar to having someone burn their finger and have the pain associated with the burn last for weeks, months or years at a time.

    A study on the cause of chronic pain

    Researchers have been delving into the causes of chronic pain with great results. U.S. News reports that a recent study found in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, performed by the University of Aberdeen School of Medicine and Dentistry in Scotland, found that car and motorcycle accidents were the most likely of any traumatic event to result in victims with chronic pain issues.

    During the study, researchers examined 2,069 individuals and evaluated their pain and distress levels three times in four years. Patients were asked to disclose whether they had been involved in specific traumatic events at each session, including traffic accidents, surgery, workplace injury, hospitalization, childbirth and fracture.

    Study results

    Over 240 individuals reported a new onset of chronic pain during the study. Researchers also found that those who reported being in an auto accident were 84 percent more likely than other study participants to develop new onset chronic pain. However, they found no link between new onset of chronic pain and surgery, childbirth or hospitalization. Those who had endured fracture and workplace injury also had instances of new onset chronic pain, but they were not as pointed as that seen with traffic accident victims.

    Statistics

    The AAPM reports that as many as 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain in the U.S, affecting more individuals that diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  A National Institutes of Health study found that auto accident-associated whiplash was one of the greatest contributors to chronic pain in the nation. The study reports that in 37 percent of cases, individuals’ chronic pain was associated with traffic accidents, while lifting, sports injuries and falls each accounted for less than 10 percent of instances of chronic pain.

    Those who endure chronic pain because of car accident injuries caused by negligent drivers can turn to an Illinois personal injury attorney for assistance.

     

     

  • Proving vehicle defect after an auto accident

    Young woman calling for help

    An attorney for car accident injuries can help

    When motorists purchase a vehicle, they put their complete trust in the manufacturers and workers who built it. In many instances, however, defects in these vehicles can cause or contribute to accidents, some of which become fatal or cause victims lasting injury. Any Illinois attorney for car accident injuries should be aware of the specific requirements that must be followed to prove that a vehicle defect is responsible for at least some of the damages that a driver and their occupants sustained in an accident.

    What is vehicle defect?

    A vehicle defect is a type of product liability that is specific to the auto industry. If parts of a vehicle are prone to break and cause dangerous situations, the manufacturers can be held liable for the damages that the defective parts cause. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for making manufacturers meet certain safety standards, and when they fail to do so, the NHTSA instructs auto makers to issue recalls. According to the NHTSA, over 390 million vehicles, 46 million tires, and 66 million defective vehicle parts have been recalled since the practice started in 1966. Unfortunately, many defects are still not discovered until it is too late.

    Proving a case

    When accident victims or their attorneys believe a defective part on a vehicle caused or contributed to their car accidents, the law requires them to prove that specific things occurred in order to prove liability exists. In Illinois, accident victims to prove the following:

    • The defect actually existed in the vehicle.
    • The defect made the vehicle unreasonably dangerous.
    • The defect existed at the time the vehicle left the manufacturer’s control.
    • The Plaintiff was damaged.
    • The Plaintiff’s damages were cause by, in whole or in part, by the defect.

    Defects in a vehicle can come from many sources, including parts manufacturers, assembly errors, and design. The crux of a case lies in proving that a defect existed. To do so, the vehicle must be preserved in its entirety. Although this may sound obvious, many parties make the mistake of handing the vehicle over to the insurance company almost immediately. In cases of extreme damage, these vehicles are almost always picked for parts and then destroyed. It is imperative that accident victims who believe a defect may have been involved retain possession of their vehicle until they learn otherwise.

    These defects cost lives

    Reuters recently reported that as many as 27 deaths and 25 injuries have been tied to a defective ignition switch in some General Motors vehicles. These faulty switches may slip out of their correct position, leading the vehicle to stall and disabling the airbags. It recently came to light that GM has known for 11 years about the problem but failed to do anything about it until this year. A total of 1,371 claims for compensation for serious injury and death have been made in connection with the faulty switches.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • 4 types of exterior distractions to watch out for

    Auto Accidents

    Like other motorists across the nation, Illinois drivers are susceptible to becoming distracted while on the roads. The issue of distracted driving has become a severe problem across the nation in recent years, something to which car accident attorneys can attest. However, exterior distractions have been a problem since the invention of the motor vehicle, and they continue to affect numerous individuals every year.  According to a study performed by the University of Michigan, any outside event that draws the driver’s attention is considered an exterior distraction. In an effort to decrease potential accidents from occurring, drivers should remain aware of the following types of exterior distractions while on the roads:

    1. Other motorists

    A study performed by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania reports that the most common exterior distraction that results in accidents is other motorists. When other drivers swerve in and out of traffic or use other unsafe driving practices, the drivers around them become severely distracted and may end up causing an accident themselves as a result. This includes accidents, which are a common distraction to other motorists. When drivers pass by accidents, many often “rubber neck” and fail to keep their eyes on the road for extended periods of time, actions that can easily lead to secondary accidents.

    1. Police activity

    While high speed chases are not a common occurrence, they do happen and they are extremely dangerous and distracting events. Other more common distractions connected with police and other emergency vehicle activity include the flashing vehicle lights and sirens. Motorists may attempt to see where the emergency vehicles are coming from and take their attention off the road. Rubbernecking also occurs when police vehicles have stopped other motorists along the side of the road.

    1. Animals

    Animals in or along the roads can lead to many kinds of accidents. When a driver becomes distracted while looking at animals and fails to heed traffic or road requirements, they make an accident more likely to occur. All types of animals, common or not, can be distracting enough to cause an accident, so these animal-related accidents are not confined to rural areas.

    1. Landmarks and scenery

    A Virginia Commonwealth University study reviewed and analyzed over 2,800 police surveys and found that nearly 10 percent of accidents occurred because drivers were busy gazing at the scenery or historical landmarks. Even a quick glance away from the road can result in a crash with serious injury. However, little has been done to study the amount of distraction-related accidents along scenic byways.

    Those who have been injured in any kind of distracted driving incident can contact an Illinois personal injury attorney to schedule a consultation. With the help of an attorney, accident victims can overcome the physical, emotional and financial burdens that these accidents can cause.

  • Study: drowsy driving accidents higher than official numbers

    tired driver

    When motorists decide to get into their cars and travel the roads of Illinois, they place a significant amount of trust in other drivers that they pass. This trust includes abiding by simple traffic laws, but it also extends to more potentially serious and dangerous activities, such as speeding, driving recklessly, and disobeying traffic signals. Many motorists do everything they can to keep these laws in order to remain safe and ensure that they do not cause others harm. However, a Chicago car accident attorney understands that some drivers may be unaware of the significant dangers that come with drowsy driving and thus fail to stay off the roads when sleepy. Federal, state and local governments have done very well in creating awareness campaigns against drunk driving and increasing seat belt use, but the lack of focus on driving while drowsy may be contributing to the problem. A new study indicates the true numbers on drowsy driving may be much higher than those officially backed by the federal government.

    Examining the problem

    The study, performed by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, examined the prevalence of drowsy driving in the years 2009-2013. This study updates a previous study in which researchers at AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety found that from 1999-2008, 17 percent of fatal crashes were related to drowsy driving.

    In performing the current study, researchers reviewed a representative sample of 21,292 collisions. These collisions had to result in at least one vehicle being towed from the scene of the accident. Trained investigators assessed drivers for their level of drowsiness through the use of interviews with the drivers or other occupants of the vehicle and by reviewing police reports. In determining drowsiness, researchers used the following codes:

    • Attentive
    • Looked but did not see
    • Distracted
    • Sleepy or asleep

    When they were unable to ascertain the level of drowsiness in some drivers, researchers used the statistically approved method of multiple imputation to estimate the proportion of drivers who were drowsy. Unknown reports were estimated to have a 3.5 percent incidence of drowsy driving, which was consistent will all other data.

    Study results

    Of the 25,528 drivers reviewed in the study, 35 percent were determined to be attentive immediately prior to their accident, 5 percent looked but failed to see, 8 percent were distracted, and 2 percent were found to be drowsy. Researchers were unable to determine the attentiveness of a majority of drivers just prior to their accidents; 51 percent were coded as unknown. When cases in which drowsiness was known and those which were estimated were combined, researchers found that as many as 6 percent of drivers involved in damaging collisions are drowsy.

    Researchers went a step further and determined the relationship between crash severity and drowsy driving. They found that drowsy motorists cause 7 percent of crashes that require a person to undergo treatment for their injuries, 13 percent of crash-related hospitalizations and 21 percent of all fatal crashes. When researchers conservatively applied these estimates to nationwide crashes, they found that 6,400 fatal crashes are connected to drowsy motorists every year. These figures are as much as 10 times higher than those reported by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

    As dangerous as drunk driving

    USA Today reports that a study found in the Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal shows that some instances of driving while drowsy can be as bad as having a blood alcohol content level of 0.08. Researchers discovered that drivers who are awake for 21 hours or more exhibit the same symptoms of intoxication, such as decreased reaction times, impaired eyesight, and an impaired ability to maintain proper speeds.

    New light shed on an old problem

    The news has begun to focus on the damage that drowsy drivers can cause due to the horrific crash that seriously injured prominent actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and killed his friend and fellow comedian James McNair. The Washington Post reports that the pair and some of their friends were traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike when their limo was rear ended by a large tractor-trailer. The rig’s driver had allegedly been working for nearly 24 hours straight when the accident occurred. Mr. Morgan suffered broken ribs, a broken leg, and a traumatic brain injury in the crash. A lawsuit is currently pending against the driver and truck owner.

    Other tragedies

    These accidents occur every day to individuals in Illinois and all over the nation. An accident recently claimed the lives of a man and woman and injured several others in Pennsylvania. According to NBC, a drowsy truck driver failed to correct his rig in time, which had moved into the path of oncoming traffic. His failure to stay awake caused him to collide with 9 other vehicles. The man was charged with homicide, aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and speeding.

    Drowsy driving in Illinois

    A Chicago car accident attorney sees these accidents on a regular basis. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2013, 892 people died in car accidents. If the AAA study is correct, as many as 188 people died because drivers failed to take themselves off the road when they were drowsy. These deaths were completely preventable, and hundreds more may die in Illinois in the coming years if nothing is done to remedy the situation.

    Illinois drivers who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident because drowsy individuals got behind the wheel can find the help they need by turning to a Chicago car accident attorney. These attorneys can help accident victims receive the compensation they need in order to heal, both physically and financially, and carry on with their lives.

  • Is robotic surgery as safe as it sounds?

    operating

    As technology continues to advance and change many areas of regular life, it has also begun to transform the way surgeons perform their craft. Since the year 2000, surgeries have been performed across the nation with the help of large robotic machines. The machines often consist of three- or four-armed robots that surgeons control using a computer system. Using small cameras attached to one of the robotic arms, doctors can clearly see inside the patient’s body. The other arms are fitted with surgical instruments. Altogether, these robots are supposed to create a more sterile surgical environment, improved accuracy and result in shorter healing times than seen with traditional laparoscopic surgeries.

    Increased use results in increased problem

    According to the New York Daily News, nearly 1,400 hospitals across the nation have at least one robotic surgery system. While some may see it as progress in the right direction, many doctors are alarmed at how quickly these machines are being phased in for regular use. In 2012, 367,000 surgeries were performed with the use of robotics. In 2008, that number was only 114,000. Problems with the devices are also being reported at greater levels than ever. From Jan 2012 to April 2013, 500 problems were reported with these machines, most of them leading to surgical errors that caused patients real harm. This increase in errors has led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees use of all medical devices, to begin a survey of surgeons who use the robotic machines in an effort to see why the error rates are rising so quickly.

    Deadly mistakes

    Many families have seen the deadly injury to patients that can occur with the use of robotic machines in surgery settings. The New York Daily News reports that a Chicago man was recently killed after having robotic spleen surgery. The surgery left the man with punctured intestines that led to a fatal infection to which he succumbed. Expert testimony stated that using the robot for such a routine surgery was unnecessary and one of the doctors was not properly trained to handle the robot competently. A jury awarded the man’s family $7.5 million for their loss.

    According to the Boston Herald, a similar story played out for another family. A Boston woman learned that she had advanced uterine cancer and opted to get a hysterectomy using a robotic device because she was told it would allow her to start chemotherapy sooner. During the surgery, the robot tore her intestines, which resulted in a large infection. This infection required additional surgeries and kept the woman from receiving chemotherapy. She died just 2 years after her initial surgery.

    Those who have been injured in a robotic surgery can find relief for their injuries with the help of a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. These injury matters are extremely complex and patients are encouraged to seek the guidance of counsel as soon as possible.

  • Spinal cord injury and SSD benefits

    Medicalmonitor. MRI tomogram of human kidney

    Between 12,000 and 20,000 people will sustain spinal cord injuries this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 200,000 people, including many Chicago residents, already live with these injuries. While recovery is possible after some spinal cord injuries, severe injuries may cause paralysis and other permanent complications. If a spinal cord injury significantly restricts a person’s daily functioning and ability to work, the victim may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

    Qualifying based on the injury

    In the “Blue Book,” the Social Security Administration publishes a list of impairments that are considered disabling if they meet certain criteria. People with spinal cord injuries may qualify for SSD benefits by meeting the terms of two different impairment listings.

    A spinal cord injury may meet the listing requirements for a disorder of the spine. Medical evidence must show that the injury affected the spinal cord and caused nerve root compression. This compression must also be evident through pain, limited mobility and muscle weakness or atrophy. Loss of reflexes and sensation must accompany the muscle weakness or atrophy.

    A spinal cord injury that results in paralysis may qualify as a disabling condition under the impairment listing for spinal cord injury or nerve root lesion. The injury must cause impaired motor function in two extremities. This impaired function may manifest as paralysis, tremors, sensory loss or loss of coordination.

    Seeking a medical-vocational allowance

    A spinal cord injury may fail to meet the terms of either listing yet still prevent a person from working gainfully. If this is the case, the SSA evaluates the person’s Residual Functional Capacity, which is a measure of the person’s functional capabilities with the debilitating effects of the condition factored in. For victims of spinal cord injuries, such effects may include:

    • Respiratory or circulatory issues
    • Incontinence
    • Muscle constriction or loss of muscle tone
    • Depression or chronic pain
    • Health issues associated with a less active lifestyle

    The SSA evaluates how all of these symptoms and effects might collectively limit a disabled individual from working. If the individual cannot reasonably perform any kind of work, the SSA awards benefits through a medical-vocational allowance. If an individual can still do certain types of work, the SSA considers whether performing the work is reasonable for the individual, based on non-medical factors.

    The SSA may weigh a person’s age, educational level, work experience and applicable skills. The SSA does not award benefits if a person appears reasonably qualified for a job and capable of performing or adapting to the work. Thus, offering extensive information about personal background and work-related qualifications is essential for spinal cord injury victims who cannot meet the terms of a Blue Book impairment listing.

     

     

  • 4 tips on how to handle a workplace injury

    Yellow tractor on golden sunrise sky

    In the immediate aftermath of a workplace injury, workers may be shocked and traumatized, worrying about their physical health and the possible future of their families. Employees in Illinois have the right to medical care and financial support when they are hurt on the job. By following these four tips, you can safeguard your right to compensation after an injury.

    1. Get immediate medical care

    According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the 60 minutes after an accident are the most crucial in determining long-term survival and recovery. As soon as you are injured, you should seek immediate medical care. Go to the local emergency room if necessary. If you already have a primary care provider in the area, you also have the right to receive urgent medical care at your regular doctor’s office. Illinois workers’ compensation law provides for reimbursement of all emergency medical expenses in the hours and days after an accident. Even if your employer has a network of preferred providers for long-term care, your first priority is to seek the care you need now.

    1. Document the injury as fully as possible

    If you are injured on the job, you should document the event as thoroughly as possible. Ask co-workers and supervisors to help you reconstruct the timeline leading up to the injury. Take photographs of the area if possible, and try to capture visual evidence of any machinery, vehicles or other objects involved in the accident. The more documentation you can bring to your case, the better chance you have of full compensation.

    1. Know what your employer is required to do

    Every employer has a number of responsibilities after a workplace accident, including all of the following:

    • Covering the cost of all emergency medical care and first aid
    • Notifying the company’s insurance carrier
    • Reporting the incident in detail to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
    • Offering temporary total disability as soon as the employee has missed three full days of work

    If employers neglect any of these duties, they should be reported immediately and may be liable to penalties from the IWCC.

    1. Speak and act discreetly as you wait for a decision on your case

    Waiting for a workers’ compensation decision can be slow and tedious. Don’t make the mistake of speaking indiscreetly about your case. Use social media wisely, even among family and friends, and seek legal counsel before you make any public statements about your injury.

    You have rights as an injured worker in the state of Illinois. Contact a personal injury lawyer today to find out more about the process of compensation.

  • 5 tips on how to document your medical condition for SSD

    Notebook and pen Black and white

    Many Social Security Disability claims are denied for medical reasons. In August 2014, the Social Security Administration reported that over 20 percent of all 2010 SSD claims were denied on this basis. Some medical conditions fail to meet the SSA’s strict standards. However, as any Social Security Chicago attorney knows, many claims are denied because of poor medical documentation. Applicants can reduce their risk of claim denial by using the following five tips when gathering medical evidence.

    Choose appropriate medical sources

    The SSA considers various sources of evidence when evaluating whether a person is disabled. However, an “acceptable medical source” must diagnose the disabling condition and provide a professional medical opinion of the condition. The SSA recognizes physicians, podiatrists, optometrists, psychologists, psychiatrists and speech-language pathologists as acceptable sources, provided they carry relevant licenses or certifications.

    In addition to seeking treatment from a professional who is considered an acceptable medical source, applicants should evaluate whether the professional is supportive. A doctor’s opinion carries significant weight in an SSD claim. If a doctor believes an individual is not legitimately disabled, or if the doctor is not willing to dedicate time to supporting the individual’s claim, approval for SSD benefits is unlikely. Applicants with unsupportive doctors may want to consider seeking medical attention elsewhere.

    Long-term treatment from the same medical source can bolster an SSD claim. Therefore, applicants should focus on finding a suitable medical source as early as possible.

    Establish regular treatment records

    Regular visits to a treating medical professional can help an applicant establish a detailed and ongoing treatment record. This can help show the progression of the disabling condition. A solid treatment record can also increase an applicant’s credibility. Social Security Chicago applicants may appear dishonest if they state they suffer from long-term afflictions but lack supporting medical records.

    To further build credibility, it is essential for SSD applicants to adhere to all prescribed treatments. This is the only way applicants can prove a condition is disabling. Without a full treatment record, the SSA may question whether a condition could be managed through medication, rehabilitation, counseling or other measures.

    The SSA acknowledges a few valid reasons for failure to follow doctor-prescribed treatments. These include:

    • Inability to pay for the treatment
    • Religious beliefs that do not permit the treatment
    • Conflicting opinions from different medical sources about the necessity of the treatment
    • Mental illness or physical conditions that make following the treatment unreasonable
    • Extreme fear of surgery

    Outside of these situations, however, the risk of claim denial can be high when applicants do not follow treatment protocols.

    Show functional limitations

    Depending on the condition, medical evidence alone may not prove an individual meets the SSA’s definition of disability. Individuals who suffer from conditions listed in the “Blue Book” of impairments and meet relevant criteria may receive benefits based on medical diagnoses, tests and records. However, other applicants must supply evidence to prove the disabling condition causes significant functional limitations.

    A Residual Functional Capacity form, which a treating physician completes, can help illustrate the specific effects of a disabling condition. The RFC form supports a detailed analysis of physical or mental limitations associated with the disability. For instance, when filling out the form, a physician can note how long an applicant can stand without a break, or how efficiently the applicant can perform fine motor tasks.

    If an applicant does not qualify for benefits based on a Blue Book listing, the SSA conducts its own RFC assessment to decide whether the applicant should receive a medical-vocational allowance. Applicants benefit from asking a treating physician to complete an RFC form in advance. A treating physician can usually analyze RFC more accurately than a physician who has not met the applicant.

    Supply medical documentation

    SSD applicants should provide the SSA with as much medical evidence as possible. SSA disability examiners are responsible for securing all of the medical records relevant to an applicant’s claim. However, it is possible for examiners to overlook important records. Additionally, hospitals, doctor’s offices and other care facilities are sometimes slow to provide records. This can lead to delays or claim decisions based on incomplete medical records.

    SSD applicants can request copies of their medical records from treating sources and care facilities. Although applicants do not need to provide a full medical history, they should include any documentation that may be relevant to the claim. This generally consists of medical and treatment records, along with objective evidence, such as the results of lab and clinical tests. Applicants should also include objective evidence from non-acceptable medical sources. The SSA recognizes this evidence as valid.

    People seeking SSD benefits should submit their medical documentation along with their applications. Applicants also may want to provide contact information for all treating medical sources and facilities. This ensures the SSA disability examiner can follow up with the original sources for any additional information needed.

    Use supporting sources

    Finally, SSD applicants should supply documentation from non-medical sources to support their Social Security Chicago disability claims. Friends, co-workers, family members and other people who have personal relationships with the applicant may attest to symptoms and other effects associated with the condition. This evidence serves primarily to show how the disability affects the applicant’s work and daily life.

    The SSA considers information from non-medical sources, but this information carries less weight than objective medical evidence. Therefore, applicants should focus first on acquiring medical evidence that meets the SSA’s strict standards. Then, applicants can secure additional evidence from other sources to strengthen the claim.

     

     

     

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Our firm handles workers' compensation and personal injury claims in Chicago, Berwyn, Joliet, Cicero, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Aurora, Niles, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, LaSalle, Kankakee, McLean and Peoria Counties.