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People We’ve Helped


SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY LONG TERM DISABILITY AUTO ACCIDENT CASES PEDESTRIAN CASES PREMISES LIABILITY CASES

We helped these people get the benefits they deserved.

Social Security Disability

“Kathy” a 32-year-old former bartender and avid figure skater, was severely injured in a car accident. She had undergone unsuccessful spinal surgery which was followed by the implantation of a spinal stimulator to ease her pain. She testified that she was unable to maintain any position without pain. This pain was helped little by the use of the spinal stimulator and substantial doses of narcotic medication, leaving her drowsy and lethargic.

“Roy” worked as a bartender at a restaurant for many years. He loved his work and although his arthritis grew worse over the years, he still showed up for work without fail until he could no longer take it. His doctor told him to stop working to preserve himself so he could still be social with his family and lend guidance to his grown children. Since he always worked hard, putting in long hours including weekend work, “Roy” failed to see doctors on a regular basis. He came to us after he had been denied benefits. His case was successfully appealed and he was awarded a new hearing at which time he was awarded benefits.

“Danielle,” a 25-year-old woman, was badly burned as a result of a house fire. Despite many surgeries, the disfiguring scarring left her in chronic pain and feeling extremely depressed. After contacting the Chief Judge before the hearing, we were able to arrange for an on-the-record decision in order to spare Danielle the embarassment of having to travel and appear at a hearing.

“Norm,” a 50-year-old former construction worker, suffered from degenerative back and neck conditions which were inoperable and had become aggravated by the presence of arthritis. He was no longer capable of his past work and was extremely limited in his ability to move or remain in a seated position for any substantial period of time. He had become unable to do household chores and had become dependent on his family for assistance with all activities of daily living.

“Maya” was an eight-year-old who suffers from a learning disability causing her to be unable to keep up with her peers in school. She would become inattentive and unruly due to her frustration at school. When she was finally assessed by the school system, she was found to be two grades behind her age group in math and reading abilities. Although originally denied benefits, her case was successfully appealed and benefits were awarded when her test results were completely explained to the presiding judge, who gained a better understanding of the educational testing process utilized.

“Deborah,” a 44-year-old former police officer, developed a condition called blepharospasm, a disorder resulting in uncontrolled facial twitching and blinking. This condition was unsuccessfully treated with botulism toxin injections and surgical stripping of muscle from the eyelids. She testified that she saw life as if she were constantly in a strobe light, making it impossible for her to concentrate on tasks or focus on anything which required more than minimal focused vision.

“Jim,” a 60-year-old former construction worker, contracted full body psoriasis, a painful skin rash which caused constant itching, irritation and bleeding. This was confirmed by whole body photography placed in the claims record showing the whole body involvement of his condition. This condition was not improved by any available prescription or holistic remedy evidenced by the bag filled with attempted remedies produced at his hearing. A subsequent psychologic examination arranged at Social Security’s expense determined that Bob was unable to pay sufficient attention to tasks due to interference by his painful itching so as to be unemployable.

“Frank,” a 53-year-old former minister, suffered from sleep apnea, a condition causing unrestful sleep due to snoring and restlessness. His condition had resulted in narcolepsy (uncontrolled periods of sleeping). This condition was not relieved by prescriptions or medical devices. Frank testified at his hearing that he survived on “love offerings” given to him by parishioners in return for his counsel and handyman repairs in their homes. Testimony at his hearing by two supervising bishops demonstrated that Frank had not performed any handyman activities for several years and barely was able to stay awake for a few minutes. Frank slept through their entire testimony and awoke only after the hearing ended when he learned he was to receive benefits.

“Bill” suffered from a bad back caused by a bulging disc which caused him to limp while he walked. Although he had been a very good athlete throughout his life, he could no longer participate in sports as he once did. Unfortunately, his condition became so severe that he could no longer sit or stand for more than a few minutes at a time causing him to be unable to sustain any job. His previous conditioning allowed him to keep a youthful appearance although he had gained a significant amount of weight due to inactivity. At his original hearing, the presiding administrative law judge ignored the findings of his treating physician and based his decision on the nonexamining reviewer employed by the Social Security Administration. The decision was overturned on successful appeal and “Bill” was given a new hearing before the same judge who listened to the compelling evidence and rendered a decision in “Bill’s” favor. Persistence in many cases such as this pays off in the end.

“Lila” suffered with an insect bite for many years which became infected and would not heal. Over the years, she sought treatment from every specialist and could not be helped. In fact, her infection grew worse until it had eaten all the way to the bone in her leg. The infection site was raw and painful. It also smelled very badly due to the dead tissue surrounding the permanent hole in her leg. Additional information was obtained from her doctors which substantiated “Lila’s” claims of pain and physical restrictions. Photography of the wound site was also entered into the record to demonstrate the severity of the condition.

“Rhonda” suffered from panic attacks for years. When the attacks hit, she would sweat and lose her breath, feeling as if she would pass out. These attacks grew worse over the years despite continual medical treatment with drugs and psychologic therapy. The attacks became triggered any time “Rhonda” was placed in enclosed spaces such as buses, crowded areas and elevators. “Rhonda” adapted to her condition by walking up stairwells one floor at a time and open a door at each level to prevent attacks. Unfortunately, her hearing was held at a modern building in which the stairwells were secured and could only be utilized for exit purposes. The building management would not permit her to walk up the eight floors to the hearing room and required that she use the elevator. We had a Social Security Administration employee witness the conduct of “Rhonda” in the elevator during the eight flight trip. “Rhonda” became panicked and put her face into her boyfriend’s chest. After the short trip, she was unable to speak at all. A half hour later at her hearing, “Rhonda” could only rock back and forth and could not express herself. The testimony of her boyfriend and the Social Security employee were presented and benefits were awarded.

“I was so excited and happy for my husband when he called me and told me about the Social Security decision, removing all the blame and changes for him. We are all very indebted to you. It would not have happened without your handling.” – Mrs. N

“About 2 years ago, you helped GC get SSI….I wanted to let you know that G died suddenly….The work you did for him allowed G to live his almost last 3 years with dignity. I will always be grateful to you for the patience and kindness you showed to him.” – Mrs. C

Long Term Disability

Jimmy Giles was a well-known running back in the National Football League who has a long career, playing both for the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After taking the beating that only NFL defenders can deliver, Jimmy suffered from numerous orthopedic conditions which made it difficult for him to move without suffering pain. When he applied for disability the NFL denied his claim, stating that his conditions were not related to his League career. This, of course, was nonsense. Unfortunately, it took multiple appeals and two lawsuits to achieve final success in this case and Jimmy received all his disability benefits.

“Bryan” and “Susan” were seriously hurt in an automobile collision. Bryan suffered from a severe lower back condition while Susan’s cervical spine was badly injured. Both were insured by different insurers who both denied their disability payments. Susan’s claim was paid upon administrative appeal. Since Bryan’s claim was much larger, the insurer fought the claim and litigation was necessary. In the end, the insurer’s false representations were revealed and Bryan’s claim was fully paid.

“Richard,” a 59-year-old former anesthesiologist, had to stop practicing medicine as a result of the fatigue and exhaustion he suffered due to the effects of sclerosing cholangitis, a form of liver disease, and hepatitis C. The defendant insurer wrongfully denied Richard’s long term disability benefits application. Richard made his application over one year after ceasing his medical practice. He had been treating on an informal basis with a specialist who had not kept complete medical records. The insurer failed to review the ample blood testing evidence and CT scan which demonstrated the extent of disease processes. In addition, the insurer did not undertake a vocational analysis to determine the duties of the claimant’s work as an anesthesiologist as part of the “OWN OCCUPATION” policy definition governing disability in this matter. In addition, there was evidence in the claims file of coordinated activity between the claims handler and an in-house reviewing physician resulting in a questionable medical denial of benefits.

“Larry,” a 53-year-old former electronics marketing manager, suffers from central nervous system angiitis accompanied by depression. The long term disability carrier attempted to terminate benefits after two years of payment asserting a mental health limitation under its policy. Larry underwent a new MRI and neuropsychologic testing which revealed organic brain damage which was the cause of his deficits. These new findings were further supported by CT scan evidence which revealed cerebral atrophy, confirming an organic cause rather than any alleged mental involvement. This strong evidence resulted in a reinstatement of benefits and payment of all past due benefits.

“Hanna,” a 43-year-old former physician, suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Hanna had consulted multiple specialists and holistic practitioners across the country in her attempt to seek relief from her painful and exhausting condition. The medical records only told part of the story. Record supplementation including functional capacity assessments with vocational expert opinion, as well as medical literature, set forth the appropriate diagnostic criteria. This, in combination with the overwhelming concert of medical and vocational opinion, prompted the insurer to pay long term disability benefits.

“Edward,” a 42-year-old former vice-president of a publishing company, suffers from HIV and related fatigue. His HIV condition had been stabilized in terms of T-cell count and viral load through the use of an “HIV cocktail” of drugs. Unfortunately, Edward still suffered from severe fatigue and gastrointestinal side effects from his medication regimen. The insurer took the position that his condition had been “successfully” treated and any remaining disability was caused by depression despite the fact that depression had been mentioned only twice in the nearly two hundred pages of medical documentation concerning Edward’s condition. Medical studies and pharmacological evidence were researched and submitted. This evidence documented a host of side effects of the medication regimen suffered by Edward. One of the side effects cited was cognitive deficits, which was confirmed though neuropsychologic assessment that was also made part of the successful appeal for benefits. Subsequently, Edward’s partner, “Tom” suffered similar deficits from HIV and its associated regimen. Edward received benefits for a period of time until he sufficiently recovered and returned to work.

“Doug,” a 52-year-old former corporate executive suffers from multiple spinal injuries resulting from several accidents. As a result of his conditions, he was no longer able to manage the many duties of his former demanding work resulting in approval of one of the largest claims ever paid by the disability insurer following a successful appeal which included extensive documentation of the many symptoms suffered by Doug and their effects on his ability to move and think.

“Ron” was a software analyst hired by the United States government through a contractor. He served overseas and made very good money. As a child, “Ron” had been diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. He was one of many adults who survived this disease, but his attacks have grown more frequent and have become very debilitating. These often occurring attacks caused Ron to cease working and apply for short term disability benefits. After being paid short term disability, he was denied long term disability despite no change in his condition. A full appeal was prepared in which medical literature was cited which substantiated his condition with further confirmation from his specialists.

“Max” was a successful podiatrist who suffered a terrible heart attack. It turns out that he suffers from arteriosclerosis which ran in his family. As a coincidence, his father suffered a fatal heart attack in the same year of life as his son. The difference is that “Max” survived his heart attack and required a quadruple bypass to clear his clogged arteries. “Max” became increasingly short of breath and suffered from chest pain despite his doctor’s efforts. This was made worse by the sense of anxiety he suffered in losing his livelihood and fear that his condition would become fatal. Eventually, he could no longer sustain his busy practice and applied for disability. Evidence in the form of medical testing and literature was gathered which proved that “Max” could no longer manage the stress of his former work on a sustained basis.

“[This note] is a symbolic reminder of how good a person I think you are and how you allow your clients piece of mind, by placing their trust in you, of just having to worry about getting well and nothing else. For all your kind words, patience and professionalism, thanks Scott.” – S.T.

“Where would I have been if I had not made that first phone call to Elkind & Shea! I shudder to think about it. My gratitude, appreciation for the lawyer you are, but glad you are the person you are too!” – M.L.

“For the first time, I feel I have an advocate and voice. It is easy to see why you are referred to as ‘the best’ in your field. Thanks again for your support and the valuable work you are doing on my behalf. I can’t tell you how decent it feels to finally have someone in my court.” – V.G.

Accidental Death

“Joey” was a super fit athlete who enjoyed training for and participating in triathlons despite a history of epileptic seizures. On one occasion, he had a near drowning incident in his fitness club pool after which his medications were modified with no problems for nearly a year thereafter. While practicing “porpoising” training, which requires descending to the bottom of the pool and resurfacing, Joey drowned in the same pool and was rendered comatose. Testing following the incident at the hospital revealed that his medications levels were satisfactory and he had no post-seizure activity. After his family made a claim for accidental death benefits, the insurer denied benefits stating that Joey’s medical condition was responsible for his death. This firm produced substantial medical authority which set forth that seizures do not kill people, but, rather that accidents which are caused by the seizures. There were several legal case precedents backing this very same position as well. The insurer kept denying the case until the Court ordered them to pay all the benefits.

“Bob” was an auto worker who enjoyed going to his neighborhood bar after work to have drinks and play pool. One day, a new woman visited the bar and Bob was smitten. He asked her to go to a couple’s anniversary dinner to be held that evening. She agreed and the two went to a the neighborhood store and bought an anniversary card to give the couple that evening. Bob ran home to shower and change his clothes for the gathering while the woman waiting at the bar for him. Bob had several drinks in his system and drank more while at home. On his way back to the bar, he ran off the road and was killed. When Bob’s family made a claim for accidental benefits, the insurer stated that Bob had engaged in drunken driving and was responsible for his own death. This firm produced several witnesses who rendered statements concerning Bob’s satisfaction with his life, the woman’s testimony as to Bob’s excitement about their meeting, and, lastly, the card saved by the couple that they received from the recently passed Bob. The insurer paid the benefits.

Auto Accident Cases

“Leonard” was a 45-year-old father who suffered a car accident the day before his only daughter’s wedding. He treated successfully and recovered. Unfortunately, the insurer fought the claim and arbitration was made necessary. At the arbitration, Leonard produced photographs from his daughter’s wedding in which he was seen wearing a cervical collar which could not be removed due to the severe pain he suffered. This resulted in an award of benefits far higher than anticipated.

“Gwendolyn” was a former 36-year-old government employee who was struck in the rear by an intoxicated driver. She suffered injuries to her spine and a decline in her ability to remember. Her impairment was so severe that she could no longer perform work and was determined to be disabled by the Social Security Administration. She underwent extensive psychologic testing which documented her cognitive decline. The matter eventually went to trial at which time five experts testified on her behalf resulting in a substantial verdict.

“Mark” was driving his small sports car to work one day when he was struck from behind with such force that his car was pushed underneath the higher vehicle in front of him.”Mark” had several gaps in his treatment as he had to travel for his work. His work was listed as several different jobs to different physicians. The gaps in treatment and inconsistent job references led the insurer to contest coverage. The case resulted in an arbitration at which, after completing many lengthy forms, it was disclosed that “Mark” was a CIA operative and was working on dangerous missions overseas for which he allowed us to see photography of his work although the exact nature of his missions and locations could not be disclosed. At the conclusion of the hearing, a substantial award was made and the defense representative admitted that he could not say a negative remark about “Mark” as he had made an impressive effort to help this nation despite his injuries.

Pedestrian Cases

“John” was transferring equipment from his work van into another work van owned by his employer at his employer’s residence. John was struck by a motorist who failed to see him, pinning his legs between the bumpers of both vehicles and causing severe injuries. Along, the residential neighborhood was a curved road which did not allow view beyond one or two parked car lengths. On the day of the accident, the sun was shining brightly, making vision for the striking driver even worse. Following extensive investigation, a full map of the neighborhood including all angles with appropriate photography proved that the striking driver was traveling at an excessive speed for the required safe stopping distance required.

Premises Liability Cases

“Carrie” was a three-year-old child who was severely injured while playing in the kitchen in the apartment where her mother lived. Evidence revealed that Carrie stepped on the stove door causing it to tilt forward and pour hot soup on her. Injuries included burns to approximately 40% of her body requiring extensive surgery and rehabilitation. Police investigation revealed that the contractors who recently renovated the apartment had failed to install the stove anti-tip device which was still taped to the appliance. Since no party would admit to ever touching the stove, a lawsuit was filed against the property owner, the property manager, the construction company that performed the renovation, and the subcontractors for negligence in failing to install the bracket. The responsible parties each contended that some other party was at fault. We settled the case for $1.5 million for which a carefully structured settlement was arranged in order to take care of the child’s medical and educational needs for the rest of her life.

“Luis” was visiting his brother’s apartment and was offered food on the stove. When he tried to use the gas stove to warm the food, the stove exploded causing him to suffer extensive burns over his body. Following several surgeries and rehabilitation, Luis remained severely disfigured despite successful rehabilitation allowing him to regain use of his body. Investigation during the lawsuit determined that the exploded stove was over 40-years-old and received no maintenance in over ten years. Further, the property manager disposed of the stove the day after the explosion resulting in unlawful destruction of the evidence. The insurer relied upon the absence of this important evidence as well as the testimony of the local fire marshal who reported that Luis was at fault for lighting the stove himself. Deposition of the fire marshal revealed that he had no knowledge of the alleged stove lighting other than a conversation with an unidentified witness who did not speak English (The fire marshal spoke no Spanish). The fire marshal admitted that he found no evidence that Luis tried to light the stove in the form of a lighter or matches. Extensive motions were filed with the court concerning the destruction of the evidence and the fire marshal testimony which resulted in a large settlement on the day of trial.

“Mary” lived in apartment building which would leak water into the entry hall when it rained hard. One day, she was late for work as her friend sounded her car horn for “Mary” to hurry up and leave. In her haste, “Mary” forgot it had rained hard the evening before and could not see the transparent puddle of water at the bottom of the staircase. She slipped and broke her leg. It was shown that the apartment management was aware of the condition, but made no effort to repair the defective condition.

“Joan” was stuck in her apartment following a snowstorm and realized she had run out of toilet paper. There was a small store in her apartment complex located a few hundred yards from her building. She bundled up and proceeded to the store at which time she slipped and fell. Her fall resulted in a broken ankle. The landlord would not pay compensation claiming that it was not responsible for an “Act of God.” During depositions and from official weather reports, it was shown that the apartment complex management failed to make any effort to remove the snow despite every opportunity to do so. In fact, the management failed to adhere to any of its own snow removal policies due to insufficient labor and equipment.

 

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