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THE INJURY LAWYERS YOU WANT

  • Trucking companies can be held responsible for a truck accident

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    When Chicago drivers take to the roads, they put an immense amount of trust in the other motorists with whom they are driving. A negligent individual can make a choice that results in serious injury for those around them at any moment. This is especially true for the drivers of large commercial vehicles. Due to their enormous size, commercial trucks are among the most deadly vehicles on the roads. For this reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created specific regulations to which commercial drivers must adhere. Failure to do so could cause a serious accident in which other motorists are killed and negligent drivers face severe civil and criminal penalties.

    Fleet Maintenance

    Proper maintenance of a commercial fleet is one of the most basic tenets of maintaining roadway safety. If a vehicle does not undergo routine maintenance, motor carriers are unable to fix broken or improperly maintained parts before they cause or contribute to a truck accident. The FMCSA requires that every commercial vehicle pass an inspection at least once every year. The requirements for inspections can be met over time through periodic inspection programs offered and administered by individual states, roadside inspections performed at weighing stations in which inspectors adhere to Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Alliance inspection standards, at commercial garages that adhere to federal standards, or through self-inspection performed by the motor carrier or driver.

    In order for an inspection to be considered valid, it must provide the following information:

    • The name of the person who performed the inspection
    • The motor carrier
    • Inspection date
    • VIN of the vehicle being inspected
    • All components included in the inspection

    A sworn statement certifying the accuracy and integrity of the inspection is required, and all reports must be kept on file for a minimum of 14 months.

    Detailed regulations are also in place dictating the types of equipment that trucks must use and how they are to be used.  Parts included in maintenance regulations include headlights, reflectors, hazard warning signals, lighting devices, power supplies, fog lamps, wiring systems, brake systems, window construction, and nearly any other part on a truck, whether seemingly minor in importance or essential for successful operation of the vehicle.

    Consequences of an improperly maintained vehicle

    When trucks are not properly maintained, serious accidents often occur. NBC Chicago reports that an Illinois man who was recently traveling with a friend in Wisconsin on a fishing trip was killed when a tire flew off of an oncoming commercial vehicle and crashed through the man’s windshield. He was a passenger in the vehicle, and his friend, who was driving, was not injured in the accident. The victim’s family stated that he was likely killed instantly from severe blunt force trauma. Law enforcement officers know that the tire came from a large utility truck or trailer, but are still searching for the vehicle to which it belongs.

    Improper loading and securement

    Improper loading can also present unique dangers to those on the nation’s roads. The FMCSA details cargo securement rules for all commercial vehicle drivers. Securement systems must be capable of meeting performance requirements when a vehicle applies the brakes, when it is turning, and when it is speeding up. When these actions take place, large amounts of force are placed on the cargo and it has the potential to come free from its constraints if not properly secured. This could cause the load or its components to spill over onto the roadway, which could be disastrous for the motorists around the truck. If a load comes free from its constraints, it may also shift its position on the truck, leading to a dangerous imbalance. This imbalance could cause the truck to easily tip over or jackknife when a driver makes an overzealous course correction, suddenly turns, or even when passing through an area of high wind.

    Time limitations

    An area of particular concern for trucking companies is ensuring that their drivers are rested while on the road. The FMCSA has issued detailed guidelines which limit the number of hours a driver can spend in service. Truckers are prohibited from working more than 14 hours each day, and no more than 11 of those hours are to be spent behind the wheel. Drivers cannot work more than 70 hours a week unless they prove that they have rested for 34 consecutive hours, including two nights of rest from 1-5 a.m. Truckers are also required to take a 30 minute break within the first eight hours of each shift.

    Many truck drivers are paid by the load, so they can potentially increase their earnings by increasing speed and the amount of time they spend hauling freight. Additionally, many motor carriers pressure their drivers to make certain deadlines that would require an unsafe amount of time behind the wheel or unsafe speeds. These incredibly detailed regulations are necessary to keep truckers and their motor carriers from placing profits above safety.

    Effects of sleep deprived drivers

    The consequences of what can happen when drivers do not adhere to FMCSA rest regulations have never been more publicly known due to the recent trucking accident involving comedian and actor Tracy Morgan. The well-known entertainer was traveling in his limo on the New Jersey Turnpike when it was hit in the rear by a tractor-trailer. The collision crushed the back of the limo, killing Morgan’s friend and colleague James McNair and sending Morgan to the hospital with critical injuries. Investigators discovered that the driver of the truck had been awake for more than 24 hours prior to the incident. He is currently facing vehicular homicide and assault charges.

    Those who have sustained injuries due to the negligence of a truck driver should contact a personal injury attorney in Chicago immediately. An experienced trucking company liability attorney can help victims receive the compensation and closure they need in order to reclaim their lives.

     

  • Pedestrians often victims of hit-and-run accidents

    Car withh pedestrians

    No excuse for fleeing drivers

    Across Chicago and the nation, law enforcement officers and other legal professionals witness the rate of hit-and-runs as it continues to climb every year. The best car accident lawyer teams are increasingly faced with many pedestrian injury cases involving a driver who fled the scene. While these matters are complex and drivers make the choice to flee based on many factors and causes, the law in all 50 states is clear: no amount of justification can rectify leaving another person to die in the road.

    Hit-and-run rates on the rise

    According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hit-and-run accidents have seen a 13.7 percent increase since 2009. The most sobering part is that these increases came at a time when the overall traffic fatality rate decreased 4.5 percent. The American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety further analyzed the relevant data and found that these accidents make up 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities. Moreover, 60 percent of hit-and-run fatalities victimize pedestrians.

    Tragic stories of loss

    Fox 2 Now reports that a 16-year-old Granite City, IL boy and two of his friends were recently walking to a friend’s house when the group was struck by a car. The boy was thrown 30 feet and died on the way to the hospital while one of his friends suffered a bruised spleen and broken leg. The driver never stopped his car or offered the injured pedestrians any kind of aid. Law enforcement officials believe they have found the driver, however, and have taken the 26-year-old man into custody. Officers state that had the driver stopped and rendered aid, he would not be facing charges now because it appeared it really was an accident.

    Toughening laws

    Many cities are seeing a sharper increase in hit-and-run accidents than the rest of the country. According to USA Today, Los Angeles is facing an epidemic where nearly half of all collisions within city limits involve a driver who then flees the scene of the accident. The national average is 11 percent. LA Weekly estimates that 20,000 hit-and-runs occur there every year, with 4,000 ending in death or injury. Those who have been drinking, who don’t have a valid license, and the very young are the most likely to flee when they realize what has happened.

    Many states are toughening laws in an effort to keep the numbers from getting any higher. They include tougher sentences and closing previous loopholes that encouraged drivers to flee in some situations.

    Finding relief

    Those who have been injured during a hit-and-run accident can find relief from their financial and emotional injuries by contacting a Chicago personal injury attorney. Attorneys can help guide patients through the claims process and get them the compensation that they need in order to heal and move forward with their lives.

     

  • Electronic records and medical errors

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    Many hospitals, clinics and medical offices in the Chicago area have been transitioning to a completely digital system for all of their patients’ health records. With federal law demanding that doctors and hospitals make the switch by 2015, many have already taken the opportunity and the offered incentives and completed the transition. With the new setup, however, many patients and healthcare workers are raising concerns they have over the potential errors that these new electronic records often cause, which in turn lead to serious consequences for patients.

    Easy errors are likely

    The ease with which doctors and nurses can make mistakes with electronic medical records has become alarming to many within the healthcare system. Nurses are particularly aware of the dangers and have begun speaking up about the high likelihood for mistakes. With a simple click of a button, patients can undergo unnecessary surgeries, receive improper medications, or fail to receive treatment because their intended treatment was improperly documented in another patient’s file. Each of these errors could easily result in the death of a patient.

    Prescription errors more likely

    Some opponents to electronic medical records point to prescription mistakes as one of the most obvious ways that the technology can lead to patient harm. Bloomberg reports that the nature of the computer programs used to manage the health records are the most suspect in these cases. Drugs and dosages are often chosen from drop-down menus, making it very easy for healthcare workers to accidentally choose the wrong prescription drug or the wrong dose of the right drug. In some cases, computer programs have ordered medications for patients without being prompted to do so by medical personnel.

    Instances of real harm

    The potential for harm is real when medical records are not properly maintained, and these medical errors can be fatal. An elderly Pennsylvania woman recently died after she failed to receive her proper medication while being treated in the hospital. The woman’s son, who is a doctor, took her to the hospital to be treated for stroke. While there, he saw that her medications were correctly listed on her electronic chart. However, a few days later when her regularly contained heart condition began to flare up, he checked again and the prescription drug used to maintain her heartbeat was no longer on her chart. The woman suffered clotting, hemorrhaging and needed emergency brain surgery. She died a short time later.

    Patients who have been injured due to the mistakes of medical personnel using electronic records can find relief with the help of a Chicago medical malpractice attorney.  They can help patients recover from their actual injuries as well as the financial injuries that often accompany medical malpractice claims.

  • Can platooning technology prevent trucking accidents?

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    Cases a Chicago truck accident lawyer sees daily 

    A Chicago truck accident lawyer understands that thousands are killed every year due to accidents with large trucks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 104,000 individuals were injured and 3,900 killed in 2012 due to accidents involving large commercial trucks, numbers that saw increases from the year before.  In 2012, large trucks had a greater chance of being involved in a fatal multiple vehicle crash than a fatal single crash. A semi-tractor trailer’s ability to cause so much damage exemplifies just what makes these vehicles so dangerous. In efforts to reduce the number of injuries and fatal accidents, researchers have developed a technology that they call platooning in which vehicles can travel in a safer environment on the nation’s highways.

    What is platooning?

    According to the CEO of the company responsible for the technology, platooning is when two vehicles travel in succession with linked communications and data systems. ABC News reports that the link allows the vehicles to synchronize their acceleration and braking in a way that may increase safety and create a better environment for fuel economy. Drivers maintain complete control over steering their respective trucks and can break away from the platoon at all times.

    The CEO believes that platooning technology and safety go hand in hand, and trucks engaged in this symbiotic relationship may help drivers avoid the conditions that create accidents.  Using sensors from each truck, data is collected and sent in real-time to a central operations center for analysis. In addition to data on current weather and highway conditions, as well as other factors, the system determines when trucks are able to safely platoon, how fast they should be traveling, and how much distance should be kept between the two vehicles.

    Initial reception

    Even though the developing company has a serious interest in making sure the technology is successful, initial reception of the platooning technology has been very positive with many other agencies backing up the company’s claims. Law enforcement, a leading trucking organization and highway safety experts have overseen recent tests of the system, and many of the claims from the developers appear to be legitimate. One key feature that excites many agencies is the stopping time that the system creates. Normal reaction time for a driver is between 1 and 2 seconds. The platooning system reacts and begins to slow its trucks in just a fraction of a second. Researchers and agency officials alike believe that if the system proves itself, it has the potential to prevent many fatal crashes in the future.

    Unfortunately, the technology is not now available and trucking accident fatalities are likely to continue at the same rate as previously seen. Those who have already been injured in a trucking accident can contact a Chicago personal injury attorney to get information, start the claims process, and receive the compensation they need.

  • Study: Voice-activated vehicle systems cause distraction for drivers

    Driving in the night city

    Hands-free does not necessary mean safe

    When drivers opt to put hands-free devices and technology in their vehicles, they often do so under the impression that they are increasing safety for them and all those around them. This idea may come from attempts by local, state and national campaigns to end the highly prevalent practice of texting and talking on a cell phone while driving, something a motorcycle crash lawyer knows is potentially deadly. Although the intent behind these campaigns was well-meaning, switching to hands-free devices may not be the way to increase safety after all. According to recent studies by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah, the use of voice-activated systems within vehicles could be a huge contributor to distraction for many drivers.

    About the studies

    During the two simultaneous studies, researchers examined various infotainment systems from common auto brands and as well as the voice system found on popular smartphones that can be used to perform a variety of functions such as navigation, texting, posting to social media sites, and noting appointments on a calendar, all without touching or glancing at the device. Each system was graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 showing no distraction and 5 being as distracted as individuals performing complex math and verbal problems. Testing was performed by 162 volunteers and university students while in three separate settings: a lab, a driving simulator, and in cars in local neighborhoods.

    Results

    The smartphone system received the worst rating at 4.14. Two drivers using the smartphone voice system rear-ended other vehicles in the driving simulator portion of the testing.  Among the infotainment systems, scores varied from a reasonable 1.7 to a very distracted 3.7. Four infotainment systems were found to be more distracting than talking on a regular cellphone.

    Researchers found that the most distracting systems made errors despite clear and distinct commands from drivers. This increased frustration levels and the amount of cognitive functions required to use the devices; drivers had to spend a lot of mental energy thinking about how to say things in the proper way to get the systems to do what they wanted.

    Lack of regulation

    Despite the clear dangers that these systems place on motorists and all those around them, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has only issued voluntary guidelines for automakers to follow when providing these built-in systems to buyers. This increases the likelihood that accidents causing serious injury will continue to occur because of these distracting devices. Those who have been injured due to the distraction and negligence of another driver should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss their claim for compensation.

  • Common errors found on Social Security Disability applications

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    Most people in Illinois know that the Social Security Disability denial rate is high. Unfortunately, lack of a legitimate disability is not always the reason for claim denial. Instead, denials often occur because of mistakes applicants make when claiming disability benefits.

    Medical evidence errors

    Many applicants fail to provide appropriate medical evidence to support their claims. The Social Security Administration requires statements and diagnoses from licensed professionals. Evidence from specialists with a history of treating the patient is also preferred. Specific information about accepted medical evidence is provided in the book Disability Evaluation Under Social Security.

    Claims are often denied when applicants don’t establish the condition’s duration, progression and daily effects with medical evidence. Applicants also must show they have pursued reasonable, doctor-recommended treatment. Claims are often denied if applicants have refused or stopped seeking treatment.

    Poor documentation of mental conditions is another common misstep. Applicants should seek ongoing treatment to establish proof of any mental conditions. People who suffer from mental and physical conditions should not omit the mental conditions from the Social Security Disability application. If a physical condition does not qualify for benefits, an individual’s combined conditions could merit a medical-vocational allowance.

    Applicants also may make the mistake of staying with doctors who do not support their disability claims. A doctor’s opinion can be highly impactful. For instance, a doctor’s evaluation of Residual Functional Capacity can reveal functional limitations that medical records may not suggest. If a doctor does not consider an applicant’s condition disabling, the applicant should seek treatment elsewhere.

    Non-medical mistakes

    If an applicant suffers from an impairment listed in Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, along with specified symptoms, the condition is automatically considered disabling. In other cases, the SSA evaluates how the condition affects the individual’s ability to work. The following work-related application mistakes can undermine a claim:

    • Continuing working. If monthly employment income exceeds $1,070, an applicant is not eligible for benefits. Working also may suggest the applicant is not fully disabled.
    • Collecting unemployment benefits. These are awarded to people who state they are able to work but unable to find employment. SSD benefits are not available to people who can work gainfully.
    • Submitting a vague work history. The SSA will find an individual disabled if the individual cannot perform work he or she is reasonably qualified for. Without detailed employment history, the SSA may misunderstand an individual’s qualifications.

    Finally, many applicants assume legal help is unnecessary or unaffordable. However, Social Security Disability attorneys can prevent various common errors on SSD applications. These attorneys work on a contingency basis and only collect fees if a claim is approved. For many applicants, giving up the fee is preferable to risking claim denial.

     

  • Drunk Illinois woman causes car accident after her release from jail for DUI

    Auto accident attorneys see many repeat DUI offenses

    Drunk man driving a car vehicle.

    An Illinois woman has been incarcerated and is currently facing charges for recently causing a series of accidents on the Tri-State Tollway near Elmhurst. The Chicago Tribune reports that the 59-year-old woman was allegedly driving while intoxicated when she hit a 28-year-old Illinois State Trooper who was on the shoulder of the interstate conducting a traffic stop. Instead of stopping her vehicle, she continued on and struck a retaining wall a short time later. Still another 2 miles later she collided so hard with an SUV carrying 7 occupants, one of which was a 3-year-old boy, that it flipped over. She finally came to a rest after striking a median. The trooper sustained severe injuries and remains hospitalized, and all 7 occupants of the SUV were treated and released. Auto accident attorneys see these accidents every day.

    Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident for the woman. Just 48 hours earlier, she had been released from jail after serving a 3 month sentence for a previous drunk driving offense. In that accident, she failed to heed a red light and slammed into another driver who was making a left-hand turn. The driver was uninjured. She tested at twice the legal blood alcohol content limit.

    These crashes mark the woman’s second and third DUIs in a nine month period, and her fourth overall DUI. Despite her multiple offenses and a request from prosecutors for a three year sentence, the Judge sentenced her to probation, a $4,500 fine, and random drug testing.

    Illinois and drunk driving

    In Illinois, driving under the influence of alcohol accounts for 34 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities each year according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and that number is continually rising. In a study of repeat DUI offenders, MADD found that there were two million drivers convicted of three or more DUI offences, and over 400,000 drivers with five or more DUIs. The National Highway Safety Administration believes that as many as one third of all first time offenders will continue to drink and drive.

    DUI Felony Study

    Prosecutors across the nation are frustrated and concerned with the constant leniency they see these repeat offenders receive, knowing that the next time a defendant drinks and drives, someone may end up seriously hurt or dead. A study performed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyzed 161 felony DUI cases from 1999 to 2006. The maximum sentence these drivers could get was three years incarceration and three years probation, and to qualify for the law, none of the prior offences could involve an injury or death. Of the 161 defendants, only 43 percent went to prison with an average sentence of 18 months. Seventy offenders were sentenced to 3 to 12 months in the county jail, although half were able to spend their days in community work release programs. Not one driver received the maximum sentence despite all having multiple DUI convictions.

  • Third-party lawsuits and construction worksite accidents

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    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 8,000 American employees are injured on the job every day. Some of these injuries are relatively minor, requiring only a short recovery period. Others can be career-ending or even fatal. Many injuries on construction worksites can be traced back to a complicated set of circumstances, often involving negligence by a third party. Disabled employees may wish to file a third-party lawsuit to recover damages after an accident. Illinois workers’ compensation law allows these suits to be filed in some situations.

    Not all injured workers can file lawsuits

    The Illinois workers’ compensation system is designed to minimize the number of personal injury lawsuits filed by employees. In exchange for a fixed schedule of benefits, workers generally waive the right to sue. There are a number of exceptions to this rule, many of which apply to the injured construction worker and the complex situations found on construction sites.

    When can an injured employee sue?

    According to Illinois workers’ compensation law, injured employees may file a civil suit under the following circumstances:

    • The employee is disabled while working or traveling for work with another professional in the field.
    • The employee is injured on the job by a defective product.
    • The injury is a direct result of a violation of Illinois workplace safety legislation.

    All three of these situations occur regularly in the construction industry. Employees who find themselves disabled by an incident of this sort should be aware of their right to file a third-party suit.

    What happens in a third-party suit?

    In many cases, a third-party suit is filed against a subcontractor who holds primary responsibility for a construction worksite accident. Although construction workers cannot sue their own employers unless they can prove negligence or safety violations, they have the right to sue subcontractors who cause disabling workplace injuries. If workers are hurt in a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver who is not associated with their employer, they can also sue for compensation. These personal injury claims are not limited by Illinois workers’ compensation law. They can include damages for emotional distress, compensation for pain and suffering, and punitive damages when applicable.

    Sometimes Illinois workers’ compensation is not enough to help an injured construction worker pick up the pieces after an accident. To find out whether you should consider filing a third party lawsuit, contact  a personal injury attorney today.

  • 4 common motorcycle accident injuries

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    Effects of a motorcycle accident in Chicago

    When a biker is involved in a motorcycle accident in Chicago, their entire lives are often turned upside down. Due to the lack of protection that a bike offers to its driver, accident injuries are often severe for motorcyclists. While each situation that leads to an accident may be unique, bikers often experience some of the same, common injuries during a collision or accident.

    Head injuries

    Head injuries are one of the most common ailments that motorcyclists face following an accident. They can include traumatic brain injury or an injury to the face. Brain injuries are especially dangerous, and may have severe, life-long consequences. Many accident victims with TBI face months and years of recuperation where they must re-learn how to do basic tasks such as talking, walking, toileting, and feeding themselves. In severe cases, even these tasks permanently elude patients.

    Many states have passed laws requiring bikers to use helmets in an attempt to keep head injuries to a minimum. A study done by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that unhelmeted riders were more likely to experience a moderate to severe head or facial injury than their protected counterparts.

    Spinal Injuries

    The bones and nerves located in the spine are incredibly sensitive parts of the human body. When the trauma of a motorcycle accident occurs, the spine is very susceptible to injury. When these injuries happen, accident victims can have minor injuries to the discs or soft tissue that may heal over time, or they may be left paralyzed. Paralysis can involve the complete loss of control of motor functions from the neck down, or having more limited loss of function in the arms or legs. Patients with spinal cord injuries often require long-term care at assisted living facilities.

    Broken bones

    Motorcycles often lack safety features commonly found in other motor vehicles, so there is little to nothing there to help absorb any impact that bikers experience as the result of an accident. That leaves only a biker’s helmet, if they are wearing one, and their bones to suffer the effects of the force of a collision. This often results in severely shattered and fractured bones. These broken bones can cause further damage by tearing through neighboring tissue and organs, which in turn can lead to potentially fatal internal bleeding.

    Road rash

    One of the most common injuries from motorcycle accidents is termed road rash. This condition occurs when an accident victim’s skin is injured after being drug along road surfaces during an accident. Due to friction with the road surfaces or pavement, the external layers of the skin are rubbed off, which often results in abrasions, cuts and bruises along any exposed part of the body. Road rash can range in severity and deep scarring can occur.

     

     

  • Social Security Disability for children and how it works

     

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    Parents who are raising a disabled child in Illinois may struggle to provide for the child’s care and special expenses. Many parents wonder about the availability of outside support, such as Social Security Disability benefits. A person must be at least 18 to qualify for his or her own SSD benefits. However, different benefits, including dependent benefits and adult child’s benefits, may be available to disabled children if they meet certain criteria.

    Dependent benefits

    If a minor child has a parent who is eligible for SSD benefits, the child can receive dependent benefits. These benefits are available regardless of the child’s health and the family’s financial standing.

    A child’s dependent benefit may be as high as 50 percent of the benefit amount the parent receives. However, the amount may be reduced if multiple children in the same family collect dependent benefits. The SSA does not allow total dependent benefits to exceed 150 to 180 percent of the original benefit amount.

    The children of SSD benefit recipients may collect dependent benefits until age 18. Then, the SSA evaluates whether these children qualify for continued benefits. A child who remains enrolled in full-time secondary school may collect dependent benefits until he or she graduates or turns 19, whichever occurs first. A disabled child may also continue collecting benefits after turning 18. However, these are no longer considered dependent benefits.

    Adult child’s benefits

    The SSA establishes distinct policies for adult children and Social Security Disability benefits. A disabled adult child may receive a “child’s benefit” or a regular benefit. A child’s benefit is based off the earnings record of a parent who qualifies for SSD benefits. This benefit is only available to adult children with disabilities that began before age 22. A regular benefit is based off of the child’s own earnings record, provided he or she has worked enough to qualify for benefits.

    There is no set time at which a disabled child automatically loses eligibility for benefits. However, the child must keep meeting the SSA’s disability criteria to continue receiving benefits. Starting from when the child turns 18, the SSA evaluates disability on the basis of three criteria:

    • The child cannot perform any work he or she performed before.
    • The child is not able to adjust to any other type of work due to his or her physical or mental conditions.
    • The disability must have lasted one year. Alternately, the disability could be expected to last one year or result in death.

    After the initial disability evaluation at age 18, a disabled adult child faces Continuing Disability Reviews. The prognosis of the disabling condition determines how frequently these reviews occur. Reviews typically are scheduled every three or seven years. However, conditions with a high likelihood of improvement may be evaluated more frequently.

    Certain events may also trigger a disability review. These events include changes in the medical condition, failure to follow a treatment plan or the development of new treatments for the condition. If the child is still found disabled during the review, he or she may continue collecting child’s benefits or regular benefits.

    Qualifying for benefits

    The SSA has a few different means of evaluating disability. There are three basic ways that an SSD applicant may establish medical eligibility for disability benefits.

    First, the applicant may suffer from a condition listed in the book Disability Evaluation Under Social Security. This book contains various conditions the SSA considers disabling, along with associated symptoms or functional limitations. If an SSD applicant proves he or she suffers from these symptoms or limitations, the condition is automatically considered disabling.

    Second, the SSA may find that an applicant’s condition and its effects are equal in severity to a listed impairment. When an applicant “equals” a listing, the SSA considers the applicant’s condition disabling without further review.

    Third, an applicant may receive a medical-vocational allowance for a condition that is not automatically considered disabling. The SSA evaluates the condition’s specific effects, along with the individual’s skills as an employee. The SSA may consider age, education and work history. Then, the SSA determines whether the condition prevents the individual from performing work he or she is reasonably capable of doing.

    Qualifying for disability benefits through a medical-vocational allowance can be difficult, due to the close level of scrutiny. To meet the SSA’s medical criteria, disabled adult children must provide substantial documentation to support their claims.

    Documenting the disability

    The SSA outlines permissible evidence in Disability Evaluation Under Social Security. First, an accepted medical source must document the disabling condition. Accepted medical sources include licensed physicians, psychologists, optometrists and podiatrists. Speech-language pathologists with sufficient professional qualifications are also acceptable.

    The SSA prefers medical evidence from professionals with a history of treating the adult child and condition. The SSA will consider objective evidence, such as medical images or laboratory test results, from non-accepted medical sources. Other acceptable evidence includes clinical findings, treatment plans and descriptions of the effects of treatment.

    The SSA also accepts statements from medical professionals that describe the adult child’s Residual Functional Capacity. RFC indicates what kind of work-related tasks the individual can perform. An RFC evaluation can be highly detailed. For example, it might note how long the person can stand or how many times the person can lift a certain amount of weight. This evidence can be useful for people seeking medical-vocational allowances.

    The SSA also accepts personal statements from people who know the applicant. Co-workers, family members and friends may all attest to the disability and its effects on daily life. This evidence is not conclusive on its own. However, it can bolster a disabled adult child’s disability 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.