Thank you for reviewing our resources section at Rice Law Office. You will find on this page answers to common questions reqgarding employment law, personal injury law, workers' compensation law and disability/social security law. If you have a question you don't see an answer for, please send us an email or schedule a consultation at our Laonia, NH office. (click on category to see questions and answers)
What is an Employee at Will?
Most employees in the state of New Hampshire are "employees at will." This means that your employment can be terminated at any time for any reason or no reason at all with or without notice. This often comes as a surprise to employees who are unaware of how precarious their employment was until their termination. The fact is, in New Hampshire an employer can terminate an employee for wearing a striped shirt. This, of course, would be absurd, incredibly unfair, and cause tremendous emotional and financial damages to an employee, but remarkably, it would not be illegal under our law. Perhaps, not surprisingly, there is no law protecting individuals with striped shirts. The good news is there are a lot of other laws that protect employees which would make termination illegal. For example, an employee cannot be fired based upon race, religion, nationality, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy or because he or she did something that the public would applaud or refused to do something that the public would condemn. In practice, this means that employers must go through a very careful analysis for terminating employees to be sure that there is no discrimination or violation of law at the heart of the termination. A thorough analysis is necessary to determine whether an employee has been terminated in violation of the law. If you have questions, we can help.
Personal Injury Law
What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is a physical or mental injury to a person caused by negligence or a harmful act. Personal injury is also known as bodily injury.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
Statutes of limitations are time limits within which an individual must bring a lawsuit or file a claim. Failure to bring your action within this allotted time period could cause you to lose your right to file a claim. Therefore, if you were hurt, you should act quickly to contact an attorney.
I've Been Hurt in a Car Accident, How Do I Know if I Have a Case?
In legal terms you need to show three things: liability, causation and damages. In plain terms this means you have to show that the other party was at fault (liability) and that he or she caused the accident (causation). In addition, you have to show that you were injured as a result of the accident (damages). The more obvious the fault and the more serious the injury, the stronger your case.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Almost all injury attorneys work on what is called a "contingent fee basis." This means that the attorney gets paid only if they are able to obtain a money settlement or judgment for you. Of course, you are always entitled to hire an attorney at an hourly rate, but usually, this kind of payment is cost prohibitive and most clients opt for the contingent fee agreement. In addition to your attorney fees, there are costs involved in your case for things such as doctors' opinions, court fees, etc. which you will have to pay. Attorneys are permitted to advance these costs for you, recognizing when you are hurt and out of work, you don't have the money to pay for attorneys and expensive litigation. If you have been hurt in an accident through no fault of your own.
I was in a car accident two weeks ago and the insurance company for the other driver has already offered to pay me for my injuries. Is it okay for me to take the check?
It may be, but first you should consult with a personal injury attorney. It may be that the insurance company is simply offering to assist you with your ongoing medical bills or make payment for your damage to your vehicle, but they may also be attempting to make an offer in settlement. Acceptance of that payment may require that you sign a release of all claims. Depending on the circumstances, if you have been injured, it would not be wise to sign any kind of release or accept payment without first consulting an attorney. Once you have released your claim, any additional treatment, injuries or loss wages will not be covered by the insurance company. So, while a quick payment may seem tempting, there may be huge consequences attached. That check today may leave you with huge bills to pay tomorrow. Be patient and be smart because if it seems to good to be true... it probably is. If you have been hurt in an accident through no fault of your own and you have questions, call Rice Law Office at 528-5299 for a free telephone consultation.
I was in a car accident and the insurance company for the other driver has already contacted me. Is it okay for me to give them a statement?
No, not if you have been injured. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you should first seek an experienced personal injury attorney before giving any statements to the insurance company.
Are Trucking Accidents Different Than Motor Vehicle Accidents?
Yes, commercial vehicles like semi-trucks, tractor trailers and 18-wheelers are larger and heavier than passenger vehicles and, therefore, trucking accidents typically cause much greater harm. Moreover, because commercial motor vehicle drivers have additional requirements for training, education, experience and knowledge and there are legal limitations placed on both the drivers and their vehicles aimed at keeping the roads safe, if an accident is caused as a result of a truck driver's failure to follow the established standards and rules, a claim can be brought not only against the driver, but potentially against the trucking company.
Although large trucks are only responsible for a small percentage of motor vehicle accidents by comparison to passenger vehicles, the size and weight of trucks and commercial vehicles increases the likelihood of significant bodily harm and even death. For this reason, these cases need to be analyzed carefully to determine causation, but also in order to identify the responsible parties.
If you have been injured in a trucking accident, you can call Rice Law Office for a free, no obligation telephone consultation to discuss your case at (603) 528-5299.
What type of Damages am I Entitled to if I am in a motor vehicle accident?
If you have been injured in an accident through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to payment for medical bills, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages, loss of earning capacity or reimbursement for property damage.
Medical expenses include expenses incurred to treat your injury, such as doctor's visits, hospital expenses, emergency room charges, chiropractic care, physical therapy and even reimbursement for medical devices which you may require as part of your recovery, such as, neck braces or crutches. In addition, if the evidence establishes that you are likely to need ongoing care in the future, as a result of the accident, payment for this expense may also be recoverable.
In cases of negligence, as an injured victim you may also be entitled to pain and suffering damages for the physical pain which you suffered as a result of the accident or injury. Sometimes it is difficult to calculate the value of this type of damage, but typically the jury will take into consideration the nature of your injury, the severity of your pain, and how long you suffered in order to determine the amount of this potential award.
Often, the trauma of a significant accident can result in mental or emotional distress. A victim's symptoms post-trauma can include apprehension, fright, anxiety, nervousness, worry, grief and shock. Since serious injuries usually result in accompanying loss of income, the isolation and financial stress that result from being out of work can compound an injured party's damages and compensation for this damage may be available.
Of course if an accident and injury results in lost time from work, you may recover lost wages for the amount of money you would have earned between the time of the injury and the time of a judgment or settlement had you not been injured.
In addition, if you can show that your ability to earn money in the future has been impaired, you may be entitled to damages for lost earning capacity. Typically, the jury will take into consideration your past earnings in determining an appropriate damage award under this category.
Another category of damage which is perhaps less well known, is referred to as loss of consortium. This damage stems from the loss of benefits of family life when a spouse or family member is injured. Serious accidents can affect a victim's relationship with family members and that loss is potentially compensable under New Hampshire law.
Finally, the property damage to your vehicle is typically handled as a separate matter. The assessment of damage to your vehicle is usually determined quickly and compensation for those damages can be paid without affecting your personal injury claim. While the damage to your vehicle can be determined almost immediately after the accident, the other injuries discussed above develop over time. It is important that injury victims remain patient and do not fall into the trap of accepting an early settlement before all of their damages are determined.
If you or a family member has been in an accident, you probably have many other questions. Rice Law Office can help you with your questions. We can help explain the accident laws and accident reports to you so you know and understand your rights. We can give you valuable insight regarding your case and provide information about how to handle your injury claim.
What documents and information do I need to give my injury attorney related to my accident?
**content needed here**
IRS revised regulations on taxation of damages for injuries.
On January 23, 2012, the IRS issued new regulations governing the taxation of damages for injuries or sickness that are received through a settlement agreement or a judgment. 77 Fed. Reg. 3106 (Jan. 23, 2012).The new regulation is:
(c) Damages received on account of personal physical injuries or physical sickness--
(1) In general. Section 104(a)(2) excludes from gross income the amount of any damages (other than punitive damages) received (whether by suit or agreement and whether as lump sums or as periodic payments) on account of personal physical injuries or physical sickness. Emotional distress is not considered a physical injury or physical sickness. However, damages for emotional distress attributable to a physical injury or physical sickness are excluded from income under section 104(a)(2). Section 104(a)(2) also excludes damages not in excess of the amount paid for medical care (described in section 213(d)(1)(A) or (B)) for emotional distress. For purposes of this paragraph (c), the term damages means an amount received (other than workers' compensation) through prosecution of a legal suit or action, or through a settlement agreement entered into in lieu of prosecution.
(2) Cause of action and remedies. The section 104(a)(2) exclusion may apply to damages recovered for a personal physical injury or physical sickness under a statute, even if that statute does not provide for a broad range of remedies. The injury need not be defined as a tort under state or common law.
(3) Effective/applicability date. This paragraph (c) applies to damages paid pursuant to a written binding agreement, court decree, or mediation award entered into or issued after September 13, 1995, and received after January 23, 2012. Taxpayers also may apply these final regulations to damages paid pursuant to a written binding agreement, court decree, or mediation award entered into or issued after September 13, 1995, and received after August 20, 1996. If applying these final regulations to damages received after August 20, 1996, results in an overpayment of tax, the taxpayer may file a claim for refund before the period of limitations under section 6511 expires. To qualify for a refund of tax on damages paid after August 20, 1996, under a written binding agreement, court decree, or mediation award entered into or issued after September 13, 1995, a taxpayer must meet the requirements of section 1605 of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996.
If a taxpayer received a judgment or settlement between Aug. 20, 1996 and Jan. 23, 2012, and already paid taxes on it, then the taxpayer can seek a refund provided that the damages for which taxes were incorrectly paid were, in fact, on account of personal physical injuries.
Consult with a tax lawyer or tax accountant if you have questions about how this change may impact you or your case.
Thanks to NELA member
Alan R. Kabat
Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC
1775 T Street, N.W.
Washington , D.C. 20009-7124
tel. (202) 745-1942 (ext. 242)
fax (202) 745-2627
For sharing this new information!
Workers' Compensation Law
Am I entitled to benefits if I get injured at work?
Employees who suffer an injury at work may be eligible for workers' compensation coverage which offers a host of benefits.
If your claim is accepted, you're eligible for payments for your lost time for work (at 60% of your average weekly wage), payment of all reasonable and necessary medical bills which are related to your work injury, temporary alternative duty if you're able to return to work but need light duty or part time employment in order to help transition back to full time, reinstatement to your old job if your employer has more than five employees, vocational rehabilitation services if you need retraining or job seeking assistance for reemployment and lastly, you may also be entitled to a permanent impairment award depending on the type of injury you suffer.
If your injury is serious, it is vital that you understand your rights now and in the future. If you have been denied any of these benefits, you may need to help with the appeal.
How do I pay for legal representation for a Workers' Compensation claim, is it affordable?
We understand that people who are injured at work are worried about how they will pay for medical bills and meet all their expenses while they are out of work recuperating. At Rice Law Office, we offer our services for these types of claims on a contingent basis. This means we get paid a percentage of what we recover for you in the form of back wages, permanent impairment or in the event you settle your case. We do not charge you by the hour and we don't get paid unless we prevail in your claim or get you benefits. In addition, New Hampshire law allows attorneys to get paid directly from the worker's compensation insurance company in certain cases in which the employee wins a claim on appeal or for denied medical bills. If we win one of these cases, we seek reimbursement for our fees from the insurance company.
I have been terminated, how do I know if I have a claim?
New Hampshire is an "employment at will" state which means that without an employment contract you can be terminated at any time for any reason with our without notice. However, you cannot be terminated in violation of the law on the basis of a protected class, like age, race, religion, gender, pregnancy, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation or marital status or for doing something the public would applaud or refusing to do something the public would condemn. You can't be treated differently, harassed, punished or terminated for these reasons or for taking advantage of your rights under workers compensation, family medical leave act or a host of other state and/or federal laws. Employers also must follow their own policies and guidelines for termination if they have binding written policies in place.
Before accepting a case, we will ask you a series of questions to determine if your termination is illegal and therefore whether you may be entitled to reinstatement or compensation for your damages.
Can I get compensation for pain and suffering for a Workers' Compensation injury?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. While compensation for pain and suffering is available for successful personal injury claims, it is not available under the workers' compensation laws. The good news is, you may be entitled to something called a permanent impairment award. This is a lump sum payment for injuries that are deemed permanent and which are listed as being covered injuries under the statute. Unfortunately, not all injuries that are permanent are eligible for this compensation. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you determine if you may be eligible.
If your claim has been denied, or you have questions about your right to a permanent impairment,call Rice Law Office at (603) 528-5299 for a free evaluation.We can explain your rights and help you file an appeal to get the benefits you need.
My doctor released me to work...?
My doctor released me to work with a 10 pound lifting restriction, but my boss says he can't take me back, do I have to find another job?
Under New Hampshire law, you have a right to temporary alternative duty (TAD) which means your employer is required to provide you with accommodated work during your recovery period to allow you time to transition back into full time full duty work. If TAD isn't available, you have the right to continue receiving benefits for your lost wages until you can return to work. Moreover, even if you are out of work and your employer has to put somebody else in your job to cover your duties, you may be entitled to reinstatement if you are able to return to your job with reasonable accommodations, within 18 months. This is true regardless of whether your employer has to fill your position temporarily or not.
If you have questions about your right to return to work or you have been denied payment of lost wages or medical bills, Call Rice Law Office at (603) 528-5299 for a free evaluation. We can explain your rights and help you file an appeal to get the benefits you need.
I was hurt at work, what should I do?
It is your duty to immediately report your injury to your employer. You should include the exact date, time and location of the accident and, if necessary, you should seek immediate medical attention. If your injury occurred in and during the course of your employment regardless of whether anyone was at fault or not, you should be covered for your lost wages and medical treatment.
If you've been denied these benefits, Call Rice Law Office at (603) 528-5299 for a free evaluation. We can explain your rights and help you file an appeal to get the benefits you need.
Can I get Social Security Benefits and Workers' Compensation at the same time?
Yes, it is possible to be eligible for both workers' compensation and social security disability benefits. In fact, you may also be entitled to other disability benefits for injuries you've suffered at work or in an accident. Injured employees may be eligible for compensation through private disability insurance and/or through employer pension or state retirement disability plans. Each of these benefit plans may have different eligibility requirements and some of them may take offsets (deductions) if you are receiving benefits under another plan at the same time. Rice Law Office can help with this. Our focus on employment law includes representation in social security, personal injury, workers' compensation, discrimination and termination cases. Often, employees who are injured at work or elsewhere become disabled and risk losing their jobs. The laws which govern these cases can be complicated and it is important to carefully consider your options before ruling out or ruling in any type of claim. The toughest thing about these cases is you don't know what you don't know until it is too late and it's important to call an experienced employment attorney early before your options have been limited by time or lack of information.
At Rice Law office we lend you our experience to even the playing field. With our help, you can take advantage of the benefits you have paid for and earned over the years when you need it the most.If you are hurt, you need to focus on getting better; let us take care of the rest. Call Rice Law Office at (603) 528-5299.
Disability Social Security
Can I get Social Security Benefits and Workers' Compensation at the Same Time?
Yes, it is possible to be eligible for both workers' compensation and social security disability benefits. In fact, you may also be entitled to other disability benefits for injuries you've suffered at work or in an accident. Injured employees may be eligible for compensation through private disability insurance and/or through employer pension or state retirement disability plans. Each of these benefit plans may have different eligibility requirements and some of them may take offsets (deductions) if you are receiving benefits under another plan at the same time. Rice Law Office can help with this. Our focus on employment law includes representation in social security, personal injury, workers' compensation, discrimination and termination cases. Often, employees who are injured at work or elsewhere become disabled and risk losing their jobs. The laws which govern these cases can be complicated and it is important to carefully consider your options before ruling out or ruling in any type of claim. The toughest thing about these cases is you don't know what you don't know until it is too late and it's important to call an experienced employment attorney early before your options have been limited by time or lack of information. At Rice Law office we lend you our experience to even the playing field. With our help, you can take advantage of the benefits you have paid for and earned over the years when you need it the most. If you are hurt, you need to focus on getting better; let us take care of the rest.
Call Rice Law Office at (603) 528-5299.