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A Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation and Defense Base Act Law Firm Fighting for the Injured.
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Florida has experienced the tremendous loss associated with the Parkland shooting which is now among the 10 deadliest mass shootings in America. It is time for us to come together and implement change so these mass shootings stop.

Many people are coming up with ideas. I have been encouraged by the Governor’s recommendation to restrict the age at individual can buy AR rifles to 21 although 25 would be better.  I like the idea of banning AR rifles altogether, but what do we do with the ones that exist?

I like the idea of better background checks and stopping the availability of AR rifles to those with mental illness. We need to be able to stop an evil person who has an AR rifle and starts threatening people before he acts.  We should be able to arrest and incarcerate them at that point and confiscate the AR rifle(s).  We want to allow police to proactively arrest an evil person seeking to kill one or more with his AR rifle before he strikes.

DSC00817-1-291x300I want to share an important lesson I learned when I was a young law student. I defended a minor who was charged with the burglary of a home. I was successful in defending the case and winning the trial for him. As a result of that he was released from juvenile court jail and I went on my Christmas vacation. When I returned, I learned he went out before Christmas and killed two people at random coming out of the shopping mall.  That was a true wake up call for me and I realized it would not be my calling to go into criminal defense. It made me realize that an evil person will always do evil even when given a second chance, put in a loving home or given help.  They will look at you, do evil and say, “You knew I was evil when you tried to help me.”

I see that when there is a tragedy such as a mass shooting there is focus on why the person did it.  Was he not schooled properly, not given enough help and so on? It may be interesting to look back but inevitably the person was evil and would commit an atrocious act in the future.
People might say, “He was a ticking time bomb,”   “I knew he would shoot up the school someday.” He had a screw loose.” Ok let’s say all those things were known to be true.
Law enforcement can do nothing. Why?  They can’t arrest people on possibilities, on crazy likelihoods or suspicions unless the person has put his plan into words written or spoken.  Remember the Las Vegas shooter never exposed his plan.  So what we need to do is give law enforcement the ability to prevent these tragedies from continuing to occur.
That is why I put my idea out as The Simple Solution. Continue reading →
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Longshore benefits are available to workers injured on recreational yachts over 65 feet and to those working on towboats or tugboats of any size per 33 USC 902 which is the Longshore statute.  When the injury occurs on such a maritime vehicle, the questions are 1. what benefits are available and 2. what caused the injury.  Let’s discuss the benefits that are available first.

Now under the Longshore statute, the injured worker will receive 2/3rd of the injured worker’s gross 52 week average of pay up to a maximum of $1,471.78 per week in 2018. If the accident caused death, then the family will receive $3,000 in funeral expenses PLUS compensation pursuant to 33 USC Section 906-909. This means the wife will receive 50% of the average wage of the decedent up to the maximum (presently $1,471.81 per week.) If there is one or more children an additional 16 2/3% will be paid again up to the maximum weekly compensation rate. The definition of children includes adopted children, stepchildren, an acknowledged child born out of wedlock,  or a child born after the death  of the injured worker. The widow’s benefits will terminate with her remarriage except for a two year stipend of compensation that will be paid in a lump sum.  In the case of remarriage, the remaining children would then receive additional compensation. If one child then that child would receive 50% of the worker’s average wage and if there are additional children then all together the children will receive benefits equal to 66 2/3 %  of the worker’s average weekly pay.  Now the benefits paid to a minor  child do not continue forever as they end when the child turns 18 or if the child is a student pursuing full time school their weekly benefits can be paid up to age 23.

If the deceased worker leaves no surviving spouse or child, then benefits will be paid to those DEPENDENT relatives including grandchildren, brothers or sisters or parents or any other person satisfying the definition of dependent under 26 USC 152.  These people must prove the injured worker contributed to their living expense in some way, ie rent, cash, payment of bills, place to live, or the like.

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Tourists, visitors to Florida, and city pedestrians: Please realize there is a high incidence of pedestrians knockdown accidents and bicyclists being struck by cars in Florida. As a City, Fort Lauderdale is ranked last in terms of safety. These are reasons to look all ways and be super careful when crossing a street even if you have the right of way.  You can be dead right in Florida and often the person who hit you has no insurance to pay for your injuries. Florida has more uninsured drivers than any other state.

FullSizeRender_4-1-300x257Why is this? Well Florida has no upper age limit on drivers and it has a lot of elderly people who drive to get around.  Florida also has many tourists who drive and are unfamiliar with Florida traffic and laws.  Consider that all rental cars are only required to provide $10,000 in Bodily Injury Liability Insurance.  Worse yet Florida does not require drivers to carry ANY Bodily Injury Liability Insurance. That is correct only Property Damage Liability and PIP are required by Statute.  Unless the driver caused prior injuries in which case he is required to have Bodily Injury liability insurance which the driver can’t afford so they drive with no insurance.

People with multiple accidents, drug or alcohol addiction or serious illnesses may not be able to buy affordable auto insurance and thus will drive with no insurance. Only uninsured motorist coverage will protect you and your family member for these injuries. Uninsured motorist coverage is construed broadly and covers your entire family household.

PIP which is also called Florida’s No-Fault law provides $10,000 in payment of medical bills and lost wages for injuries caused by a car accident where the person is a pedestrian or a bicyclist. The Florida Law recently required that the injured person obtain medical treatment within 14 days of the accident for PIP to pay. When the doctor opines there is a emergency medical condition, the full $10,000  in PIP can be paid. Most people don’t realize their PIP or medical payments coverage will pay for their injuries in Florida when they live out of state, out of country or are just visiting.

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Si usted se lesiono mientras trabajaba en el extranjero para un contratista estado unidense, lo primero que debe hacer es reportar su lesion y presentar un formulario LS-203 con prueba de que lo notifico a su empleador DBA. Es una buena idea enviar dicha notificacion por correo electronico al ajustador y tambien al mismo tiempo mandarse una copia ha usted mismo, para que posea prueba del envío. Asegurase de enviarnos un mensaje de texto a 1-754-317-2823 para una consulta gratuita especialmente si usted esta teniendo problemas psiquiátricos despues de ser estacionada en una zona de guerra. Es muy importante que usted tiene su abogado presentar una reclamación dentro de un ano de haber un psiquiatra diagnosticar una condición psiquiátrica causada por su empleo.
Una vez que el examinador de reclamos de OWCP esta asignado a su caso, entonces usted puede tener una conferencia establecida a traves de una solicitud por escrito para una conferencia informal. Con esta solicitud por escrito usted proporcionara detalles, documentacion y prueba medica para sus derechos y beneficios. Una vez que el examinador de reclamaciones de OWCP emita la recomendacion a su favor puede tener la esperanza pero no la expectativa de que la compania de seguros comience a pagar. Asegurese de que la recomendacion se ocupe de todos los problemas por los cuales busca compensacion para que el juez pueda decidir sobre todas esas cuestiones. Entregue su declaracion LS-18 antes de la audiencia 14 dias despues de la recomendacion emitida. 

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While rare, an attorney should always consider the viability of pursuing a third-party claim where a DBA injury is due to the negligence of a third-party other than your employer. This is allowed under 33 U.S.C. Section 933 (a) but has a strict requirement of notification under subsection (g)Compromise obtained by person entitled to compensation:

IMG_9967-e1496774041913-1-225x300“1.  If the person entitled to compensation (or the person’s representative) enters into a settlement with a third person referred to in subsection (a) for an amount less than the compensation to which the person (or the person’s representative) would be entitled under this chapter, the employer shall be liable for compensation as determined under subsection (f) only if written approval of the settlement is obtained from the employer and the employer’s carrier, before the settlement is executed, and by the person entitled to compensation (or the person’s representative). The approval shall be made on a form provided by the Secretary and shall be filed in the office of the deputy commissioner within thirty days after the settlement is entered into.

2.  If no written approval of the settlement is obtained and filed as required by paragraph (1), or if the employee fails to notify the employer of any settlement obtained from or judgment rendered against a third person, all rights to compensation and medical benefits under this chapter shall be terminated, regardless of whether the employer or the employer’s insurer has made payments or acknowledged entitlement to benefits under this chapter.”Do not settle your third-party case without first obtaining written permission from both the employer and the DBA insurance company to settle the third party claim.  If you settle the third-party claim without getting written consent you will lose all future compensation and medical treatment payable by the DBA insurance company. If you are settling your third-party case for less than the compensation you are entitled to under the DBA case, you must obtain written approval on Longshore DBA Form LS-33 which must be filed within 30 days of the settlement with the District Director.
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Ganar un caso de DBA es fácil, cuando se lo hace honestamente. Una vez que usted muestre el 1% de la causa de su lesion en el extranjero puede recuperar el 100% de su tratamiento medico. La Seccion 20a le da una presuncion de compensabilidad sobre las causas cuando usted establece que usted fue lesionado y la lesion ocurrio en el extranjero. Y ciertamente si usted es honesto,  recibirá probablemente los beneficios medicos los salarios que se han perdido por un periodo de tiempo.

Llegara un momento en que la compania de seguros llevara a cabo una encuesta de mercado de trabajo para mostrarle que hay puestos de trabajo disponibles que usted puede desempenar. Cuando se reune con el representante de la compania de seguros que lleva a cabo la encuesta de mercado de trabajo, por favor, entienda que debe ser totalmente honesto acerca de la informacion sobre sus trabajos anteriores, incluso revelando cuando se le despidio. Tambien debe responder con sinceridad si tiene alguna condena de delito grave (arrestos). Los abogados de la compania de seguros recolectara sus registros de empleos anteriores, registros medicos y antecedentes penales. Si usted ha mentido a la persona de la encuesta de mercado de trabajo, el abogado de la defensa o al medico de la compania de seguros, estas declaraciones falsas son una razon importante para que el juez niegue su reclamo. Nadie espera que sea perfecto, pero si honesto. Yo pienso que este mundo seria muy aburrido si todos fueramos perfectos.

La misma regla en cuanto a la honestidad, se aplica tambien con su historial medico. Si tuviste dolor o heridas en la parte lesionada de tu cuerpo en el pasado, debe ser sincero y debe revelarlo. Si no recuerdas una lesion anterior o un dolor previo, es mejor decir “no lo recuerdo.” No hay necesidad de salir con una extremidad y decir “No, nunca me lastime la espalda, o el cuello, etc.” ya  que  en algun lugar de su historial medico pasado ​​esta registrado dicho dolor o lesion previa. Si usted no recuerda esas lesiones, pero aun así da la impresión erronea de que ha mentido, el juez tomara eso como una razón para negar tu reclamo.

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So if you are injured working overseas for an American Contractor, the first thing you do is report your injury and file an LS-203 form with proof you served it on your DBA employer. It is a good idea to email the adjuster as well and copy yourself so you have proof you sent it.

IMG_9968-e1496774833618-1-225x300Once the OWCP claims examiner is assigned to your case, then you can have a conference set up via a written request for an informal conference. With this written request you will provide details, documentation, and medical proof of your right to benefits. Once the OWCP claims examiner issues the recommendation  in your favor you can hope but do not expect insurance company to start paying. Be sure the recommendation addresses all of the issues you are requesting so that the judge can then rule on all of those issues. Serve your LS-18 pre-hearing statement 14 days after the recommendation issued.

You should consider hiring  a law firm specializing in DBA cases even if they are far away from where you live. This firm is not afraid to jump on a plane and come see you so you know who you’re talking to or we can schedule video conferences via Facetime or Whatsapp. We employ multiple staff fluent in Spanish. It is important that you feel comfortable with the law firm representing you. Do not make the mistake of hiring a local Worker’s Compensation attorney who is not familiar with defense base cases which are governed by Federal law. These are very specialized cases and most of the attorneys that handle them reside on the East Coast, the West Coast and the Gulf  States. This is true because those attorneys usually handled Longshore claims  for people injured near the navigable waters or oceans.  Longshore cases are governed by the same law which applies to DBA cases.  Also, choose a firm that responds to your emails or telephone calls as you and your injuries should be treated respectfully.

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The good news is winning a DBA case on causation is fairly easy.  Once you show 1% of the cause of your injury is due to being overseas you can recover 100% of your medical treatment. Section 20a gives you a presumption of compensability on causation where you establish that you were injured and the injury occurred overseas. And certainly if you are truthful and respectful you will probably receive medical and lost wage benefits for a period of time. 

IMG_0631-1-300x225There will come a time when the insurance company conducts a labor market survey to show there are jobs available that you can do. When you meet with the representative of the insurance company conducting the labor market survey, please understand that you must be totally honest in terms of supplying information about your prior jobs even revealing when you were terminated. You must also answer truthfully if you have any felony conviction. Attorneys for the insurance company will subpoena your prior employment records, medical records and criminal records. If you have lied to the labor market survey person, the defense attorney and/or the insurance company doctor, these false statements give the Judge a reason to deny your claim. No one expects you to be perfect, just be truthful. I like to say it would be a very boring world if we were all perfect.  Continue reading →

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To obtain a large settlement under the Defense Base Act, it is easiest to start by receiving medical benefits under the Defense Base Act.

IMG_9968-e1496774833618-1-225x300First, file a LS-203 which is essentially your claim for compensation benefits from your Employer and their insurance carrier. Then, once the employer turns in the notice to the insurance company, you will be set up with medical care. Give the doctor an accurate but brief description of your injury. Virtually all injuries abroad are compensable as you must be duty fit. So whether you are hurt because you fall in the shower, sprain your back while working out or twist your ankle walking,  you are entitled to medical care. Initially, it will be provided on the base in country, and then at home when you return home.
Next: You Choose Your Doctor
You have the absolute right to choose your treating doctor. NEVER let the insurance carrier pick a doctor for you.  We like to help you choose a doctor who will be favorable for your case. Continue reading →

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How long does an injured longshoreman or civilian contractor have to file a claim under the Longshore or Defense Base Act? The answer, in most instances, is one (1) year from the date of the injury.

What happens if you are paid compensation and your employer terminates the payments? You should likely retain a qualified attorney immediately. But with respect to the statute of limitations, if your employer voluntarily pays compensation benefits  and then terminates those payments, you will then have one (1)  year from the time that your employer terminates compensation benefits for you to file a claim for additional compensation benefits.

If your claim is due to what is referred to in the act as an “occupational disease”, like hearing loss or  exposure to harmful chemicals, you have two (2) years to file your claim. The time does not start until  you first become aware of the relationship between the occupational disease, your disability, and your employment. An occupational disease is  an illness or medical condition which develops as a result of exposure to harmful conditions or substances in the workplace. With occupational injuries, the insurance companies love to litigate against injured workers over when the disease manifested itself, and when the employee became aware of the link between the disease and his or her employment. Often,  the diseases or conditions as a result of exposure does not  manifest itself for years or decades, and not until you have retired or left a particular employer. It is therefore important to retain a qualified attorney to represent you as you navigate the intricacies of the Longshore and Defense Base Act.

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