Frequently Asked Questions About Injury and Disability
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Who is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in New Mexico?
If you were injured on the job or suffered an occupational illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay medical bills and replace lost wages. Like many other states’ laws, New Mexico’s workers’ compensation program is a no-fault law that provides benefits to injured workers regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident.
Are You Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Almost all employers in our state are required to have workers' compensation insurance. Employers who staff three or more workers must provide workers’ comp benefits to injured workers. An employer and members of his or her family who work at the business are also considered employees. Part-time staff, temporary and seasonal workers, and many agricultural laborers are also considered employees under this rule.
In addition, an employer who has personnel in the construction industry—even if it's less than three employees—is required to have workers’ compensation insurance.
Assuming that your employer is required to provide workers’ compensation, you could be entitled to benefits if you can demonstrate the following:
- You are an employee with active standing.
- Your injury or illness was caused during the course of your employment.
Exceptions to Providing Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In limited situations, an employer isn't required to provide workers’ compensation to injured personnel. You wouldn't be eligible for benefits if you're of the following:
- Independent contractor
- Domestic worker
- Real estate salesperson who receives a commission
- Federal employee covered under federal workers’ compensation laws
- Executive who meets certain requirements and has elected not to receive workers’ comp benefits
- Sole proprietor
Contact Our Roswell Office for Help
Even if you're clearly eligible for workers’ compensation and suffered an injury on the job, your employer’s insurance company could deny your claim for benefits. Call our Roswell workers' comp lawyers today to schedule a free case evaluation to learn about your rights to workers’ compensation benefits and how our legal team can help.
How much is my personal injury case worth?
When you must make the difficult decision to file a claim for compensation after suffering an injury in a car, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident, it's important to know whether or not it's worth your time to file a claim. To start this assessment, you first have to know the damages for which you can receive a settlement.
Types of Compensation You're Entitled to in Personal Injury Cases
Although each personal injury claim is unique, most people report the same type of damages in order to regain financial stability after suffering an injury. You may be awarded compensation for the following:
- Medical bills. You're entitled to reimbursement for the cost of doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgery, prescription medications, physical therapy, and any other expenses associated with treatment for your injuries.
- Wage losses. This includes income you'll lose while you're off work, vacation and sick time benefits, bonuses, and commissions. If you must make a career change or become disabled due to your injuries, you may also be entitled to lost earning capacity, which is the future income and job benefits you might lose as a result of those changes.
- Pain and suffering. You're entitled to be reimbursed for emotional trauma, pain, and suffering caused by your accident and injury. Since there isn't a set formula for calculating this amount, you'll need the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney to value this part of your claim.
- Wrongful death. If a family member died as a result of his or her injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for the financial losses you suffered as well as the support, companionship, and advice of your loved one.
- Punitive damages. When the at-fault party’s actions are grossly negligent, punitive damages may be awarded.
Factors That Affect the Value of Your Claim
The exact amount you receive in a settlement is based on a number of factors that affect the strength or weakness of your claim. Some of these factors include:
- Liability. If the liability of the negligent party is clear-cut, or he admits being at fault, this strengthens the claim and makes it more likely that you'll receive what you are owed. When there are issues about your fault in contributing to your injuries, you may have to accept less when settling the case.
- Severity of injuries. Your claim will be worth more if your injuries are more severe or cause some permanent injury than if you suffer a minor injury that you recover from quickly.
- Insurance coverage. The amount of insurance coverage for the negligent party affects the value of your settlement in a practical way. No matter how much the amount of damages, you can only receive the insurance liability coverage in settlement of your claim.
- Your attorney. Having an experienced personal injury attorney with a track record of successfully settling and trying cases similar to yours can increase the value of the case. He or she will be able to thoroughly investigate your accident, build a strong case against the negligent party, and negotiate a settlement that provides you with deserving compensation.
Contact a New Mexico Injury Attorney Today
If you were injured in a personal injury accident, call our office today to schedule a free consultation. We'll discuss the parties who could be responsible for compensating you and the value of your personal injury claim.
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit in New Mexico?
If you or a family member suffered a serious injury in a motor vehicle, slip and fall, or personal injury accident, you may need to file a claim for compensation with the negligent party’s insurance company.
When you do this, it's important to understand the basic process, such as the types of compensation that you may be entitled to, how personal injury claims work, and the evidence that you will need to prove your case.
In addition, a crucial law to understand is the statute of limitations in New Mexico.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in New Mexico?
The statute of limitations is the New Mexico law that sets the time period for you to file a personal injury lawsuit against all negligent parties who caused your accident. If you fail to file a lawsuit within these time periods, you waive your right to do so, and the judge would most likely dismiss your case.
It is very important that you always consult an attorney to make sure you are filing your claim within the statute of limitations.
As a general guideline, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury case is:
- Two years from the date of the accident for a claim against a governmental entity, including a 90-day tort claim notice from the date of the accident
- Three years from the date of the accident for personal injuries suffered
- Three years from the date of the victim’s death if a loved one died from his or her injuries and you must file a wrongful death action
- Four years from the date of the accident for property damage suffered
Act Fast: Contact an Attorney Soon After Your Accident
One of the best ways to ensure you receive what you deserve in a settlement is to retain an experienced personal injury attorney immediately after your accident. Even if your accident happened recently and you have a long time to file a lawsuit, you might be making a big mistake that could weaken your claim for compensation.
If you wait to hire a personal injury lawyer, you limit his ability to promptly investigate the cause of your accident and interview witnesses. If too much time lapses between the incident and his investigation, scene evidence may disappear, or individuals may move or forget important details to help your claim. Your attorney can also handle all communications with the insurance adjuster and help you avoid mistakes, such as agreeing to give a recorded statement or signing the insurance company’s medical release, which could hurt your case.
Do you need to file a claim following a personal injury accident? Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options, and how we can help you fight to hold the negligent parties accountable.
What's the Social Security Disability Sequential Evaluation Process?
When you must file a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it's helpful to understand how the claims process works and the rules that apply to these cases. Knowing how the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates a person’s medical condition or illness to determine disability helps predict what might happen with your claim.
We explain the Social Security Sequential Evaluation Process that's used to evaluate whether or not you're entitled to benefits.
Questions Asked in the Social Security Disability Sequential Evaluation
In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, your medical condition must meet the requirements of a disability. It's defined as the inability to engage in any gainful activity due to a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment which is expected to last for at least 12 months or results in death.
The Social Security Sequential Evaluation is a series of five steps in the process used to determine whether you're disabled. At each stage, the SSA worker assigned to your claim asks questions pertaining to eligibility.
Here are the questions in the process:
- Step 1. Are you working above the SGA level? SGA stands for Substantial Gainful Activity, which is working at a job. For example, in 2017, the SGA level income amount is $1,170 per month.
- Step 2. Is your physical or mental condition severe? Your medical condition or illness must be severe enough to meet the definition of a disability, as discussed above. To be severe, the condition must interfere with basic work-related activities.
- Step 3. Does your medical condition meet or equal the severity of the Listing of Impairment? The SSA lists many medical conditions and illnesses in its Listings of Impairments, which is also known as the Blue Book. If you can prove your condition is included in the Listing or is substantially as severe, you can establish a disability.
- Step 4. Can you perform any of your past relevant work? If the answer is no due to your condition, it furthers your claim.
- Step 5. Can you make an adjustment to any other work? The SSA has the burden of proving that work, other than what you performed in the past, exists in sufficient number; and that you can adjust to another form of employment given your age, educational level, work experience, and impairment.
Do you have questions about filing your application for SSDI benefits? Has your claim been denied? Our experienced Social Security disability lawyers are here to help you prove that you are disabled under Social Security Administration laws. We have more than two decades of experience guiding our clients through the process of obtaining the SSDI benefits they deserved. To discuss your situation and rights to benefits, call our office or fill out our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Who's eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?
If you're disabled and unable to work, this doesn't automatically mean that you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), or that you won't have to fight for the benefits you deserve. Your eligibility for disability income depends on both your work history and disability. Here, we discuss basic eligibility requirements that you need to meet.
What Are the Work History Eligibility Requirements for SSDI?
To meet the work eligibility requirements to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify. Eligibility is based on the number of work credits you have earned. For each quarter of work with income of a certain amount, you can earn one work credit.
The amount of work needed changes, but for example, in 2017, if you earn $1,700 per quarter or more in the year, you would earn four credits for the year.
How many credits you will need to qualify for benefits will depend on your age. These general rules apply:
- Generally, you must have earned 40 work credits with 20 of them having been earned in the last 10 years.
- If you're younger than 31 years old, you may qualify for SSDI benefits with fewer work credits.
Disability Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits
You must also be considered disabled to be eligible for SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability by the following requirements:
- You can no longer perform your former job; and
- You cannot perform other work due to your medical condition; and
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or result in your death.
The SSA maintains a Medically Approved Listing of Impairments. If your medical condition is on the list, you may automatically qualify for benefits. However, if your disability isn't on the list, this doesn't mean you're not entitled to SSDI benefits.
If you don't qualify for SSDI benefits, you may be eligible for Supplement Security Income benefits (SSI). To be approved, you must be disabled and meet strict asset and income rules.
Let Us Help You With Your Social Security Disability Claim
Even if you clearly qualify for SSDI benefits, you shouldn't be surprised if your application for benefits is denied. Unfortunately, the SSA denies many legitimate claims. If you need help filling out your initial application for benefits or fighting for the benefits you deserve, our Roswell Social Security disability lawyers are here to help. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
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