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A Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation and Defense Base Act Law Firm Fighting for the Injured.
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When one person dies in a rocket attack, everyone injured in that rocket attack can make a claim for damages under the anti-terrorism law set forth at www.usvsst.com.  The US Department of Justice has a website that explains the rights of US victims of state sponsored terrorism. US victims include contractors working under a contract  which their employer has with the US Government. PHOTO-2024-04-11-11-01-41-225x300These rights can be found at www.usvsst.com. It provides compensation to individuals or the personal representative of a deceased individual who holds a final judgment issued by the United States District Court, awarding the individual compensatory damages. The judgment must arise from active international terrorism for which a foreign state sponsor of terrorism was found not immune from the jurisdiction of US courts under the foreign sovereign immunities act (FSIA) and the individual must submit the applications found at the website, not later than 90 days after the date of obtaining the final judgment from the District Court.

Presently the funding through this website has paid about 25% of the awarded damages to contractors since 2016 since the fund does not have money every year to make disbursements.  Attorneys’ fees are

IMG_5463-300x254contingent on obtaining these benefits and has been limited to 25% of the benefits paid on usvsst disbursements. Fees can be higher where a law firm has to find and recover money from other third parties. A restrictive view of the ability of contractors to make a claim under this Act was recently taken by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided March 8, 2024. The case was Borochov vs. Islamic Republic of Iran and Syrian Arab Republic case number 22–7058.

This law firm is committed to fighting terrorism and pursuing money damages for the contractors who suffered injuries where a fellow contractor paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Let us file a claim for you. For those of you that have retained us on the terrorism claim we will shortly contact you with a family member intake form because your family members who suffered emotional and psychological damages from your injuries are entitled to make a claim for compensatory damages. Family members include siblings, spouse, children, parents and each can get their own award if the contractor’s injuries had an emotional and psychological impact on that family member.

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Recently, I was honored by the Broward Bar with the Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence in Workers Compensation. I was touched and proud to be recognized for my hard work and dedication to helping the injured. My high school English teacher was the one who told me to go to Law School.  I know how lucky I was to have my parents be able to pay for my education. They both worked full time and had only one child to educate. Imagine if they had more children to educate. It would have been so difficult. I wanted to DO MORE to help others get educated. Seeing people get injured I realized how difficult it would be for an injured parent to pay for an education for their children.

IMG_0534-1-220x300I am proud to say I still get emails, letters and calls of thanks from people I helped. One man called and left a message: He said tell Jo Ann my settlement helped my son go to college. That made me so happy. I know education is important to help people break out of the cycle of poverty. Plus it is important to tell children they can achieve their goals by getting the education they want. That is why I encourage my clients to know they can achieve anything they can dream. My Partner, Vance B. Moore, left me with a plaque saying, “If you can dream it you can do it”. It quotes Walt Disney and Vance was a huge Disney fan. He is watching from heaven now. You would never find a man who would do more to help people. WE are proud to continue his vision.

That is why this firm announces its donation to the 440 Scholarship Fund which pays for education for children of the injured, but to get it you have to apply. That is why I include this application link. Application – Friends of 440 Scholarship Fund

If you need help with the application either reach out to Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, PA or contact Lori@440scholarship.org The Friends of 440 Scholarship Fund is a charitable organization whose purpose is to make the dream of attending college classes a reality for eligible students who are dependents and descendants of an individual who has been injured or killed in the course and scope of their employment and/or who received benefits under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law. In addition, dependents of individuals whose primary employment is connected with the operation and/or administration of this same law are also eligible to receive scholarships. Continue reading →

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On February 24, 2023, JoAnn Hoffman received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Broward County, Workers Compensation Division of the Florida Bar for her decades long work helping the injured in Florida.

IMG_1063-225x300How far have we come and how far can we go to be Fair to all people? That is the question that still exists today. So I have these personal comments that brought me to this post:

I saw racism when I was a child… and sexism,…and oppression of the poor. My family did not have much money but we worked hard and slowly earned our way out of poverty.

My recognizing injustice began as a young child when I saw my mother injured in an accident. She lay in bed for months missing work. Her attorney called her and told her he settled her case for $350. I found that offensive and made it my life’s mission not to let that happen to other people. There was no internet then, no one to reach out to. Her case was just finished.

I went to law school because my high school English teacher told me I was

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Congratulations to Jon Stewart who spearheaded a long and hard fought battle to win medical and disability benefits for veterans who breathed smoke from burn pits during their service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Although not widely known, virtually all of our service people and contractors stationed in the Middle East were exposed on their bases to the daily burning of their trash, plastic, medical waste, and toxic chemicals in open burn pits. Everyone breathed that polluted air on the army bases and it was not good.

What you need to know about the PACT Act and where it takes us from here:

  1. Many military and contract workers developed cancer, respiratory illness or lost their lives. Until now there has been limited recognition of this tragedy. Now with the passage of the PACT Act under S. 437 Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act the surviving veterans will get proper treatment and disability for cancer and respiratory issues through the Veterans Department.  Some conditions are presumptive and other conditions require a diagnosis from a doctor relating the condition. Also the VA can have you examined by their doctor. Certain conditions carry a presumption that they came from the burns pits so benefits can be awarded without a causal connection statement from a medical doctor.
  2. These cancers are now presumptive:Burn Pit
    • Brain cancer
    • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
    • Glioblastoma
    • Head cancer of any type
    • Kidney cancer
    • Lymphatic cancer of any type
    • Lymphoma of any type
    • Melanoma
    • Neck cancer
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Reproductive cancer of any type
    • Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type

    These illnesses are now presumptive:

    • Asthma that was diagnosed after service
    • Chronic bronchitis
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Chronic rhinitis
    • Chronic sinusitis
    • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
    • Emphysema
    • Granulomatous disease
    • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
    • Pleuritis
    • Pulmonary fibrosis
    • Sarcoidosis
  3. Veterans can apply for coverage under the PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins) Act.  This link takes you to the application form.  To quality the veteran must show employment during the time periods at these locations:
    • Iraq between August 2, 1990, and February 28, 1991, as well as from March 19, 2003, until burn pits are no longer used in this location;
    • Southwest Asia (including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar) from August 2, 1990, until burn pits are no longer used in these locations; and
    • Afghanistan, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, and Djibouti from September 11, 2001, until burn pits are no longer used in these locations.

    This is a much needed recognition for many people who suffer with these conditions. For the families who had their service member return home only to suffer a long unexpected painful death from cancer or respiratory disease, the loss has been devastating. Family members may be entitled to survivor benefits and a modest funeral reimbursement. Read more at the VA site for the amounts.

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I would like to take a moment to reflect on the humble beginning that I came from and how the efforts of many people contributed to my ability to make a better life for my family. It’s a bit of a long read but please stay with me because I think it has a blockbuster ending.

I grew up on a small farm in Indiana. My parents worked full-time day jobs and then farmed our land when they returned home in the afternoons. In addition to saving every penny towards building a better life, my parents emphasized the importance and transformative power of education.Jo-on-tractor-300x207

Due to financial constraints, my father had dropped out of high school to work on the railroad. This would have likely been his job for the rest of his life, but for a visit from the high school basketball coach. If my father agreed to return to high school, the coach offered to provide my father with a paid assistant position with the basketball team. My father agreed, and this arrangement provided the financial means for my father to finish his high school degree.  He then went on to get a college degree so he could be a teacher and be a positive influence for others like the coach was for him.

As a teacher, my father could provide better for our family than as a railroad laborer. The county provided pensions and other benefits for teachers as well – all opportunities he unlocked by increasing his education. He wanted to make sure that others could access teaching opportunities and provide for their families too. My dad got involved in a program to help young Black students from the South become teachers. Continue reading →

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By Andriana Garrido, paralegal at Jo Ann Hoffman and Associates

*Names have been changed and faces blurred to protect the individuals involved.

I took a trip out to Iraq in July 2021, and was introduced to Moe, a remarkable Iraqi individual that risked his life to serve the US Army. His story took me on this journey that was too important not to share.

This is his story as told to me:

My upbringing in Baghdad, Iraq, was both dark and joyful. My mother recalls using a tied-up rag as a diaper for me when I was a baby because we had no money to afford anything better. When I turned 6 years old, it was a big deal because I could finally help my mother by watching my little brother while she went away to work as my father’s income was not enough. I took on the role of a caregiver at this age where I spent my days changing diapers and cooking food for my younger brother. I had a fire in me to break this generational curse of poverty and I was determined to turn it around. Despite living in poverty, I was grateful to be surrounded by loving family and friends that always helped to uplift me at my lowest. Things in my life took an unexpected turn when my father grew ill. He had to stop working so this put us in a financial hole and it became so bad, that we couldn’t even afford medication for him. At the age of 20, I started studying at Baghdad University, and it was in a class there, that I met an important person, Ali.

I formed a close bond with Ali, and he became my most trusted friend. Ali confessed that he had been working for the US Army as an Interpreter and he expressed that he saw potential in me and wanted me to join. It didn’t take much to convince me. By this time, I had seen so many wars and I was fed up with the conflict and terrorism. I watched the country of Iraq deteriorate at the hands of corrupt individuals. I had seen so many dead bodies and families lose everything they possess, being left with nothing but memories and remains of what was once home to them. Working with the US Army to help defeat terrorism, would have been an honor. I was 8 years old when I saw my first dead body laying in the streets of Iraq. In 1990, there was the war with Kuwait that left our country unstable. Then there was the war with Iran, followed by the war in 2002 that ultimately put the nail in the coffin for my country. I never knew what life was without a war. I reflected upon all of this when Ali asked if I would join him. It was an immediate yes for me. I so badly wanted to be a part of the solution despite how dangerous the task was. Continue reading →

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TRAVEL WITH US TO IRAQ IN THIS STORY – PART 1

By Andriana Garrido, paralegal at Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman and Associates

When we think of Veterans serving our country we usually think of an American-born hero fighting the frontlines in Iraq or Afghanistan. We don’t think of the Ugandan that left their family and everything they knew to fight for our war next to the American soldiers. We don’t think of the Iraqi that risked his life to work with the U.S. Army as an interpreter. They wear the uniform, they fight the grand fight, and they are given American names to protect their identities. They are our hidden heroes, and they are fighting behind the scenes for our country every single day.

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post-trau·mat·ic stress dis·or·der
noun
MEDICINE
  1. a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world.

If you are a widow or a loved one of a civilian contractor who has struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or has committed suicide as a result of a work-related injury while working overseas in a war zone you may be wondering whether your loved one’s death is covered by the Defense Base Act. Our firm can help guide you on the law and the rights of your loved one who performed work overseas.

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As we move into unprecedent times the Attorneys at Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates are here to help you not only through your legal case, but also guide you on how to get help for your personal issues caused as a result of your Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from your work-related overseas injuries. As many of our clients are suffering from PTSD, as a consequence of war, we are very vigilant and attentive to address our client’s specific needs on a day-to-day basis. Not only do we provide our clients with access to a group of attorneys in our firm with vast knowledge of their case to help them from the beginning to the end of their legal process, we also have a firm that is willing to help locate professionals who can help our clients cope with their symptoms. PTSD develops when a person experiences a form of a severe trauma and as a result of that trauma their personal life as well as their health are affected. Civilian contractors experience many of the same traumatic experiences and war related attacks as U.S. military veterans. While US Military veteran injuries are covered by the Veterans Administration, civilian contractors that are hired by the Department of State or private companies are covered by the Defense Base Act. Continue reading →

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When computing the claimant’s Average Weekly Wage, “AWW” one must include “concurrent employment” if applicable.  Fla. Stat. § 440.02(27).  “Concurrent” is a term left undefined by Florida Workers’ Compensation Law, but case law suggests it means a “second job” or “moonlighting” that is expected to continueCato Corp. v. Stuart, 711 So. 2d 1375 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998).  “Employment” is statutorily defined to mean “any service performed by an employee for the person employing him or her” but statutorily excludes work in four areas:

(1) domestic servants in private homes,

(2) most seasonal farming involving five or fewer regular employees,

(3) professional athletes, and

(4) community service imposed by a criminal sentence.

See Fla. Stat. § 440.02(16)(a)-(c) (2015).

For purposes of concurrent earnings, the phrase “any service performed” in the definition of “employment” in section 440.02(15)(a) “is extremely broad.”  Reaves v. United Parcel Service, 792 So. 2d 688, 689–691 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001).  In addition to the four exceptions, also excluded is any area of work for which coverage under the Florida Workers Compensation Law does not apply – such as an independent contractor.  Anna Maria Fire Control Dist. v. Angell, 528 So. 2d 456 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988).  As such, wages earned in such excluded areas of work cannot be included in the AWW as “concurrent employment.” See Jay Livestock Market v. Hill, 247 So. 2d 291 (Fla. 1971). Continue reading →

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You’re driving home from work and stop for yet another red light when suddenly the car behind you slams right into your vehicle. You just want to get home, so you agree to exchange phone numbers and be on your way. You can deal with this later, right? NO. You must protect yourself after a car accident, starting immediately. The following steps explain what to do – and what not to do – after a car crash.

  1. At the scene of the crash.

Call the police! Yes, you should. Getting a police report helps you begin documenting what happened most accurately. It will also make sure you have all the necessary information about the driver who hit you, their vehicle, and the vehicle’s insurance. Most police agencies now require their officers to wear body cameras, which may capture valuable information about the scene as well.

Check for injuries! If you or your passengers need to go to the hospital, the officer can call for an ambulance if you haven’t already. Document your pain by telling officers and paramedics what you are feeling.

Take pictures! You can take an unlimited number of pictures on your phone, so take multiple pictures of your vehicle, the vehicle that hit you, and anything else on scene that may be helpful. Take pictures from far away to show the entire scene and closeups to show details of any damage. The police can help get your vehicle towed if necessary.

Stay calm! This is not the time to argue about what happened or apologize for anything you feel you could have done differently. Anything you say can later be used against you, so don’t put yourself in that position.

Locate witnesses! If anyone saw the crash happen, be sure to get their information. If a dispute arises, it will help you to have an independent witness explain what they saw.michael-jin-ipHlSSaC3vk-unsplash-300x200

  1. Hiring an attorney.

Don’t delay hiring an attorney! An experienced personal injury attorney will help you through the claims process, present the strongest demand to the insurance company, and fight for you to achieve the highest possible compensation. Even minor crashes are best handled with competent legal representation.

  1. Reporting the crash.

Report the crash to your insurance company either over the phone or online. They will give you a claim number and help start the process. If you have already hired your attorney, they will help you with this too.

The other driver’s insurance company may call you and ask for a statement. Do not agree to this until you have discussed it with your lawyer. Again, anything you say can later be used against you, so remember that less is more. This statement may not be necessary at all, but if it is your attorney will have the opportunity to advise you. Continue reading →

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