Personal Injury

1) What kind of accidents give rise to a personal injury case?

Personal injury cases have two major components: Liability and Damages. Liability is the same as fault. You must be able to prove liability against another individual or entity in order to make a recovery. Most often, liability is proven under a Negligence theory. Negligence is the failure to act in a reasonable manner under the circumstances. If a driver goes through a red light, that is negligence. If a landlord fails to fix the stairs after he/she becomes aware they are dangerous, that is negligence. If a driver is not paying attention and strikes the car in front of them, that is negligence.

The second component is damages. This means injury and the consequences of injury. Pain and suffering, wage loss and medical expenses along with other out of pocket losses generally are what make up damages recovered. Many people who are hurt tell me that all aspects of their life have been changed due to the accident and injury. They don’t feel well physically and their daily routines are no longer the same. Some feel less worthy because they cannot be as productive. Others feel like their future plans, hopes and dreams have been lost. These are all examples of the consequences flowing from an accident.

At the Law Office of Martin T. Montilino, we strive to nail down the liability aspect of the claim right away. We will investigate the accident and interview witnesses and involved persons. We also strive to know you as well as possible so that we can fully develop all the damages involved in your case. We will obtain medical records and ask your doctor to write reports. We will obtain employment information in order to document your loss of earnings and wage loss. We make sure we know all the medical expenses so those amounts are properly taken care of so you will not need to worry about those items.

2) Why do I need a lawyer for my personal injury case?

The Insurance companies have an army of claims representative’s and lawyers whose job it is to keep you away from a reasonable compensation for your claim. They may tell you that they will be fair, but don’t trust that. An injured party needs a competent lawyer to investigate the claim, obtain proper proof of liability and damages and to present the case for settlement to the insurer. The insurer knows that the lawyer can ultimately bring a lawsuit if they don’t make fair offers. If a person tries to handle the case without a good lawyer, the insurance company will not pay an appropriate amount for the claim.

Martin T. Montilino has sued the insurance companies on injury claims for nearly two decades and has obtained many, many Jury Verdicts for his clients. Once the insurance company knows that there is the potential for a lawsuit with competent legal representation, they make better offers.

3) How does the attorney get paid in a personal injury case?

There are no upfront fees. I work on a contingency basis. This means that I only get paid if we make a recovery. When you get paid, I get paid. The contingency fees is 1/3 of the recovery.

Workers Compensation

1) What steps should I take if I am injured at work?

A) After a work injury occurs, report the accident or injury to your supervisor as soon as possible. Give an accurate account of how the injury happened and the all the body parts affected. Ask to have a First Report of Injury completed and turned it in right away. If you are unable to do this immediately because you have gone to get medical attention, do it as soon as you return from the doctor. If your employer refuses to file an injury report, contact The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino for assistance.

B) Seek medical attention as soon as possible. The sooner you go for medical care the better. Provide the doctor with an accurate account of what happened and all of your symptoms. The sooner the medical documentation is in place, the less chance there is for potential problems later in process.

C) Follow the doctors orders. If you are given a note from the doctor, provide that to your employer right away. If the doctor recommends that you be off of work due to the injury, then do what the doctor says. If the recommendation is that you may work but with restrictions, then return to work and follow the restrictions. Do not work beyond the restrictions, even if you feel you must to save your job. It is better to follow the doctors orders and let the situation play out, than to try to satisfy your employer by violating the doctor’s advise. This usually turns out bad for you, the doctor is upset and no one knows your true capabilities. Contact Martin Montilino if you find yourself in this situation.

2) Who pays my medical bills?

In Workers Compensation claims, the workers compensation insurance company is obligated to pay the reasonable and necessary medical expenses that are caused by the work injury. When you go to the doctor or physical therapy, provide them with your workers compensation claim information. Usually, the medical provider will request authorization from the insurance company for the particular medical care involved. If the insurance company denies authorization, the injured worker can file a Medical Request whereby a Judge will decide if that medical care or expense should be paid by the insurance company. Contact The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino so that the Medical Request can be filed and the proper medical evidence can be obtained.

3) What wage loss is payable under Workers Compensation?

All wage loss benefits are calculated from the Average Weekly Wage (AWW). Simply stated, this is an average of your earnings per week in the 26 weeks before the injury.

  • Temporary Total Disability. If you are off of work completely due to your injury, temporary total disability benefits are paid. This is paid at 2/3 of your AWW for each week you are out of work.
  • Temporary Partial Disability. If, because of your injury and your restrictions, you make less money, then temporary partial disability is paid. This is calculated as 2/3 the difference between your reduced earnings and your AWW.
  • Permanent Total Disability. If you become unable to work permanently, then this benefit is paid. It is paid as 2/3 of your AWW and continues into the future or until age 67 depending on the particular circumstances of your case and your retirement plans.

4) What do I do if my claim is denied?

You may start a legal case by filing a Claim Petition which ultimately results in a Hearing where a workers compensation judge will decide your case. If your claim is denied, contact my office right away so the processing of your claim can begin immediately.

5) Are there other benefits beyond medical and wage loss?

You may qualify for Rehabilitation assistance or Retraining under some circumstances. You may also qualify for Permanent Partial Disability which is based upon your diagnosis and loss of function. This is a rating your doctor will provide several months after the injury is sustained.

6) Why should I hire a lawyer and particularly, why Martin Montilino?

The Workers Compensation system is very complex and there are many rules involved that most lawyers don’t know. Many rules are interpreted by court decisions so the system is ever changing. The insurance companies try to pay as little as possible. You need a competent workers compensation lawyer to help navigate through the system.

Martin Montilino has been handling workers compensation claims for almost 20 years. He knows how to present your claim in the best possible light. Further, his extensive trial experience provides you with strong litigation skills to go up against the insurance company lawyers to give you the best possible chance to win your case.

7) How are attorneys fees paid in workers compensation?

Attorneys are paid only when they recover disputed workers compensation benefits. If a recovery is made for money benefits such as wage loss, the attorney may receive 25% of the first $4,000.00 and then 20% after that. If the attorney recovers disputed medical benefits, the insurance company has to pay the fees involved in the recovery of medical.

Social Security

1) What do I need to prove in order to be awarded Social Security Disability benefits?

Generally speaking, you must prove that due to your medical condition or conditions, you are unable to sustain gainful employment. The Social Security Judge will evaluate your medical condition as well as your past relevant work history and your transferable skills and determine whether there is work available that you can do.

2) How do I start the process?

If you wish to make a claim for Social Security benefits, the starting point is to go to your local social security office and ask for an application. The staff at the office will often assist you in getting the application completed.

3) What do I do if my application is denied?

Most people who apply for disability are denied when they file their initial application. The next step is to file a Request for Reconsideration. This is the point in time where you should contact me as I will file the Request for Reconsideration and begin providing the evidence needed to prove your claim.

4) What happens if the Request for Reconsideration also denies my claim?

It is very common for the initial denial to be upheld upon reconsideration. When the decision on the reconsideration is sent to you, you should contact me immediately. At this point, we file a Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge and your case proceeds to the Hearing phase.

5) What happens at the Hearing?

The Judge will ask you some questions about your circumstances, your medical condition and your medical and employment history. There may be a doctor and a vocational expert at the hearing at the judge’s request. The judge may ask them questions. I will ask questions of you, the doctor and the vocational person in order to prove your claim.

My experience is that most people who win their social security claim, win the claim at the Hearing or as a result of the Hearing. If you are denied initially and upon reconsideration, don’t be too discouraged. Your best chance is at the Hearing.

6) How long does the whole process take?

That is a question that cannot be answered easily. Some claims are finished within a year of the initial application. Some people wait 14 months from their Request for Hearing until the Hearing date. The time involved varies depending on how busy the Judge’s calendar is and other factors internally at the Social Security Administration. As such, it is best to apply as soon as you are able