Get Answers to Your Benefits Questions in Our Disability FAQ
Dealing with the process of applying for and receiving disability benefits, whether it’s through the Social Security Administration (SSA), your employer, or a private insurer, can be a challenge, and many people are left with questions about what they can do to get the help they need. At the law offices of Loyd J. Bourgeois, we understand how hard it can be to get the answers you need. That’s why we’ve put together the following list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers dealing with personal injury, disability benefits, claims, and appeals and the related law in Louisiana.
The following are some FAQs that I receive as a Louisiana attorney. They may answer some of the questions you have regarding your Social Security Disability appeal, your long-term disability insurance denial, or your personal injury claim. If you have a question that is not answered here, please call the legal team of Louisiana Disability Law, Loyd J Bourgeois at 985-240-9773.
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Will the Long-Term Disability Insurance Company Spy on Me?
One of the most frequently asked questions in our long-term disability practice is “Will my long-term disability insurance company spy on me during this process?”
More often than not, unfortunately, the answer is YES! I have piles of videos right here in my office of hard-working claimants who are fighting for disability who have been spied on by the long-term disability insurance carrier.
Some signs to know when you may be spied on by your carrier is as follows:
- If they send you a form asking about your activities. The carrier may call it an activity log. The carrier wants you to take them through your day. What do you do each day? What time do you do your activities?
- Another question the carrier may ask you is “when is your next doctor’s appointment?” What they are looking for is information to know when you're going to be out of the house and about because people often do multiple things at one time. For example, you may go to the grocery store, then go to the doctor’s office, and then go meet a friend – while you are out. They are looking to get you at that point in time.
- Some other indicators of when you may be spied on by your long-term disability insurance carrier is:
The carrier may get up to get a private investigator to follow you around to establish that you can do certain activities.
My advice to you is pretty simple - be brutally honest with them telling them everything that you do even the minute details.
Do not over exaggerate! For example, you don't want to say "I cannot drive" because if they find you driving they can say “oh this person is not credible.” You don’t want to say "I do not go out of the house," because if they find you just walking to your mailbox to check your mail they prove you a liar.
It is OK to do these things. You do not have to prove under your disability insurance policy that you are completely inactive but if you tell the insurance company those things, it makes you out to be a liar when you are doing activities contradictory to what you told them on the activity log.
As long as you are brutally honest with the long-term disability insurance company, you won’t give them any ammunition to deny your claim based on your credibility. That is one small victory that you need to take advantage of!
I am long-term disability lawyer Loyd Bourgeois. I want to help you fight the long-term disability insurance company who wants to take your premium but does not want to pay your claim.
Give us a call at 985-240-9773 so we can help you fight for the benefits you paid for, earned, and deserve!
Should I meet the at-fault person’s insurance adjuster when they examine my car for property damage?
No. Under no circumstances should you be with the property damage adjuster when they take pictures of your vehicle. It is important to remember that these insurance adjusters work for the other side. They are not there to help you. They are trying to pay as little as possible for both property damage and bodily injury.
It is not uncommon for them to play tricks, such as asking you to retrieve information from your car’s glove compartment in order to photograph you bending over into the car. This can be used later against you during the injury case.
We strongly advise that you have a family friend or other relative there when the adjuster examines the vehicle. It is also important that no one talk to the adjuster or reveal details about the accident or injuries sustained.
Look over our personal injury FAQs for answers to questions like "Should I Give The Insurance Company A Recorded Statement?" and "How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?" Have a question that you don't see listed? Or do you have a specific question about your unique case? Our team here is always glad to answer your questions. Our injury consultations are free, and we take care of you right from our Luling office.
Just call us at 985-240-9773 or use our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.
What should I do immediately after a car wreck?
Believe it or not, I sometimes get phone calls from clients at the scene of their car accident wondering what they should do. Should you find yourself in a car accident, here is a list of the 9 things you should do immediately after the accident.
- Immediately after your car accident, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you, and anyone in the car with you, are safe. Of course, if anyone is seriously injured, that takes top priority.
- Call the police. Louisiana law prohibits people from leaving the scene of an accident until a full report has been made to the police.
- Exchange information with the other driver or drivers – usually the police officer will obtain and provide this information but you must be sure that you have it. Write down the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, vehicle make, model and color, as well as the insurance information of the other driver or drivers involved.
- Get contact information from any witnesses.
- Do not make statements to the other driver or anyone else about the cause of the accident, but do tell the police.
- If you are hurt, wait for the paramedics to examine you. If they advise you to go to the hospital, follow their advice.
- Take pictures of all damages to your car and any others BEFORE moving the cars to the side of the road. Ideally, you should document the accident where it happened.
- If you are injured or feeling bad at all, go to the ER as soon as possible. This protects you, from a medical and legal perspective, and starts a document trail to prove you were injured.
- Follow up with your doctor as required.
This is good information to know before you find yourself panicked at the scene of an accident. If you were in an accident and have questions about what you need to do next, give me a call. 985-240-9773
Do I Have To Submit The Worker’s Comp Report to SSA?
We recently represented “Donald” who was injured on the job when attempting to lift a heavy object. Donald’s injury required surgery. Luckily for Donald, his injury was covered by worker’s compensation so it paid for the surgery. After Donald did not recover as expected, he filed for Social Security Disability.
At some point during the process, however, Donald’s worker’s compensation insurer required he take a Functional Capacity Exam to determine whether or not he could return to his previous work. The FCE found that Donald was capable of working at the same physical level as before his injury. Clearly, this FCE did not support Donald’s claim for disability benefits – where we must prove that Donald’s limitations prevent him from performing any work. Simply put, this type of evidence hurts Donald’s claim.
The question is this – Do we have to submit this unfavorable worker’s compensation report to SSA even though it does not help Donald’s claim?
The answer is YES!
SSA has an “all evidence” policy that you and your representative must follow. This means that all evidence obtained in your case, even if it is unfavorable, must be submitted to SSA on your claim.
But, there is hope.
If you have unfavorable evidence from a worker’s comp doctor or any other doctor, you should promptly advise your attorney so that an effective strategy can be developed to minimize the negative evidence.
In some cases, one strategy we employ is to have your own doctor prepare a letter detailing why the negative evidence is wrong and/or problems with the methods, technique or conclusions of the negative evidence. Other strategies may be appropriate or required depending on your specific case.
If you have a worker’s compensation claim or other negative evidence that you must submit to SSA, you should seek representation from a skilled and knowledgeable SSA attorney to help in your disability claim. Our team would love to help – give us a call or use our contact form.
Can I negotiate my own personal injury claim? And if so, where do I start?
Sure - you can negotiate your own personal injury claim. There is no law that says you have to hire a lawyer. But, just like you can change your brakes without being a mechanic or install a new roof on your house without being a roofer – some things are best left to the experts. And, unlike hiring a mechanic or a roofer, you don’t have to pay anything upfront to have a personal injury attorney start working on your case!
Louisiana Personal Injury Lawyers are paid by receiving a portion of the money they are able to win for you. Additionally, most lawyers will front the costs of the case (like filing fees, expert costs, deposition costs, etc.) until the case is resolved. If you choose to pursue your own case, you will be responsible for all costs, which sometimes run into the thousands of dollars.
Insurance companies are aware that individuals do not have the training or the legal skill necessary to file a lawsuit and try a case to a successful conclusion and as a result will offer a significantly lower amount of money to someone trying to negotiate their own claim.
Without the legal skill and training, you may not accurately understand the value of your case or take into account all of your damages. This is why hiring a lawyer to handle your case or claim is usually in your best interests. If you still want to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company yourself, start by reading all the articles on this blog – we have great advice about insurance adjuster tactics and what documentation you need to prove your case.
How long does it take to settle my case so I can catch up on my bills?
The length of time for settling a case depends on many factors and no lawyer can make guarantees on either the outcome or the timeline for that outcome. Some of the factors are how serious the accident was, how badly you were injured, how much medical treatment you require, and which insurance company represents the at-fault driver. They’re all tough to deal with, but some are worse than others!
Let’s say the other driver is clearly at fault in a rear-end auto accident. Maybe you suffered a soft tissue strain sprain and required an X-ray to assess the damage and a couple months of physical therapy to help heal. Even a very basic case like that can take between five to eight months to settle. It can be a long process, depending on the facts and circumstances of the accident, to make sure you receive fair compensation.
I’ve already accepted a settlement from the insurance company, but I’ve since had more medical bills. What can I do?
Unfortunately, if you have already signed a release form with the insurance company, you’ve lost the ability to pursue legal action against either the at-fault driver, their insurance carrier, and possibly your own UM insurance. The best possible scenario is to avoid this situation altogether, which you can do by not signing the release form until you have absolute medical clearance from your doctor that you are finished with treatment.
If your injuries are of the type that will require future treatment(s), you need to take this into account in any settlement or resolution. If you need help determining if the insurance settlement offer is fair and will cover all of your current and future expenses, give us a call at 985-240-9773.
Does the amount of property damage to your car matter in your injury case?
The short answer is NO!
The medical literature shows that there is no direct correlation between the amount of property damage in an accident and the type and severity of injuries received. A person is a minor fender bender with less than $500 damage can sustain severe injuries, and a person in a significant collision where multiple vehicles are “totaled” can walk away with no injury.
Everyone has different injury tolerances. Two people who experience the same accident can have different injuries - this is because everyone — biologically speaking — is built differently. Some people may have a genetic tendency to be more predisposed to certain types of injuries. For example, women tend to sustain different types of injuries than men.
Also, the fitness level and age of an individual can have a lot to do with the type and severity of injury received in an accident. As such, factors like wear and tear on the body and the actual individual’s injury tolerance, which is genetic, bears no relationship to the amount of property damage in an auto case.
However, you need to be aware that many people including jurors are often biased towards the opinion that no/minimal vehicle damage means no/minimal personal injury. If you were injured in a no/minimal vehicle damage case, you will likely need a skilled attorney knowledgeable about defenses to this argument to effectively recover for your injuries.
If you have questions about your personal injury claim, give us a call now at 985-240-9773 or fill out our contact form.
Do Social Security retirement benefits affect my Long-Term Disability payment?
A recent caller to the office – let’s call him Al – asked an interesting question. Here is our exchange:
"Al, let me see if I understand your question correctly,” I asked.
“You have been receiving long-term disability payments through an insurance plan and that LTD insurer reduced your benefits by the amount of your Social Security Disability. Correct?”
Al said, “Yes.”
I continued, “Now that you have reached full Social Security Retirement age, your Social Security Disability is now Social Security Retirement. And, you want to know if the LTD insurer can continue to offset the LTD benefit by what you now receive as Social Security Retirement. Correct?”
Al said, “Yes.”
“Great!” I exclaimed. “I just like to make sure I am understanding what you are asking.”
“Al,” I said, “Here is my lawyer answer – I don’t know.”
I explained to Al, and now to you – how and whether any Social Security Retirement payments affect your LTD payment will be a function of the specific language of your LTD policy. And, each policy is slightly different. You will need to obtain a copy of your policy and read specifically what it says about receipt of any Social Security benefits. How SS Disability and/or SS Retirement benefits are construed and/or offset are policy specific.
In most ERISA plans that I have reviewed, the LTD policy only pays benefits until you reach your Social Security Retirement age. If this is the case, the effect of receiving full SS Retirement benefits will be that you are now aged off of the LTD benefit.
In private LTD plans, the policy period varies and how each policy handles offsets for SS Retirement differ.
So, as I told Al – “You need to get a copy of the policy and review it. And, if you don’t understand what you are reading or what you are looking for, give my office a call to schedule an appointment where we can review it together.”
Al set off to find a copy of his policy. If you have this question, you should do the same!
What kind of doctor should I see for my car accident injury?
This is a question I am frequently asked. I strongly recommend that anyone who is hurt in an auto accident go to the emergency room immediately. However, emergency rooms only determine if you have any emergency medical needs and provide basic medication such as anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxers, and minor non-addictive pain relievers. It is important to know that most injuries worsen a day or two after an accident and can become unbearable over time, thus the medications and treatment you receive at the emergency room can be of tremendous benefit.
After going to the emergency room, you’ll need follow up care and that MUST mean a facility with a medical doctor on staff who understands crash injuries and is skilled in treating these type of injuries.
Additionally, most of these facilities also have a massage therapist, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, and additional medical professionals on staff to help you through the treatment process. If your pain persists, most doctors will request for you to have an MRI to further evaluate the type of injury you have and determine your treatment needs.
If you have injuries such as knee, wrist, hip, ankle or other types of injuries besides neck and back injuries, you should follow up with an orthopedic doctor.
If your neck or back symptoms persist you may be referred to a neurologist, neurosurgeon, or orthopedic spinal surgeon for a consultation.
In summary, be sure to go to the emergency room after a car accident even if your pain is not significant because it may increase over time. Next, you should follow up with a facility that has a medical doctor on staff to treat your injuries and not just a chiropractic or massage therapist’s office. While massage therapists and chiropractors are an important part of the treatment process, you need a medical doctor directing and coordinating your treatment.