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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I know if I have a good accident or personal injury case?
A:  Contact me and we can discuss your case. My initial consultation on a case is always free.

Q: What is the definition of disability used by Social Security?
A:  Under the Social Security Act, “disability” means “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

Q:Even though you cannot receive Social Security benefits during incarceration, can you get disability if you are out of jail or prison and residing in a half-way house? “I was transferred from prison to a halfway house that is under the control of my state’s Department of Corrections. Can I have my benefits started again since I am no longer in prison?”
A: Under the Social Security regulations, the answer is “no.” Social Security will not pay benefits while you reside in any facility under the authority of your state’s Department of Corrections. Even though you are no longer in prison, you are still under the control and custody of your state’s Department of Corrections until you complete your court-ordered sentence and you are officially released, or until the Department of Corrections places you on parole.

Q:After you are released from jail or prison, will Social Security let you restart your benefits or will you have to start a new application?
A: The answer depends on the kind of benefits you received (Social Security Disability Insurance – SSDI, or Supplemental Security Income – SSI) and how long you were incarcerated in jail or prison.It is possible to restart SSI benefits if you were incarcerated for less than 12 months.After you are incarcerated for a year or longer though, you have to start a new claim for benefits
For SSI beneficiaries, benefits are terminated when the individual is incarcerated for a year or more.
Restarting SSDI after incarceration:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are suspended during incarceration. For Social Security beneficiaries, benefits remain suspended until the inmate is released. As far as I can tell, there is no time limit on restarting a SSDI claim after incarceration.

Q: How long do I have to wait after becoming disabled before I can file for Social Security disability benefits?
A:  Not even one day. You can file for Social Security disability benefits on the very same day that you become disabled. Many individuals make the mistake of waiting months and even years after becoming disabled before filing a Social Security disability claim. There is no reason to file a Social Security disability claim if one has only a minor illness or one which is unlikely to last a year or more. However, an individual who suffers serious illness or injury and expects to be out of work for a year or more should not delay in filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits.

Q: If the claimant dies before a decision is made on their disability case, can the disability claim proceed?
A:  YES. Sadly enough, this type of situation does occur every now and then. That is, a claimant with a pending case dies before a decision is made either by a disability examiner or an administrative law judge. A deceased claimant’s surviving spouse or family member may continue to pursue the disability claim for the benefit of the claimant’s estate. Typically, the family member who chooses to do this will need to submit a copy of the claimant’s death certificate as well as a completed substitution of party form. Regarding benefits that may awarded in such a situation, these would be payable to the claimant’s estate and, if an attorney represented the case (assuming the case was for social security benefits versus SSI benefits), the social security administration would follow its normal procedure of processing the attorney’s fee.

Q:  I am still on sick leave from my employer. Can I file for Social Security disability now or do I have to wait until the sick leave is exhausted?
A:  Yes you can apply and No you do not have to wait until filers sick leave is exhausted.  If based on a prognosis from your treating physician, the filer believes work restrictions will exceed 12 months or more, they should file for Social Security disability benefits ASAP.

Q: I got hurt on the job. I am drawing worker’s compensation benefits. Can I file a claim for Social Security disability benefits now or should I wait until the worker’s compensation ends?
A:  You do not have to wait until the worker’s compensation ends and you should not wait that long. An individual can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits while receiving worker’s compensation benefits. It is best to file the Social Security disability claim as soon as possible because otherwise there may be a gap between the time the worker’s compensation ends and the Social Security disability benefits begin.

Q: How many different types of Social Security disability benefits are there?
A:  There are at least five major types of Social Security disability benefits. Disability Insurance Benefits is the most important type of Social Security disability benefits. It goes to individuals who have worked in recent years (five out of the last 10 years in most cases) who are now disabled. Disabled Widow’s and Widower’s Benefits are paid to individuals who are at least 50 and become disabled within a certain amount of time after the death of their husband or wife. The late husband or wife must have worked enough under Social Security to be insured. Disabled Adult Child Benefits go to the children of persons who are deceased or who are drawing Social Security disability or retirement benefits. The child must have become disabled before age 22. For Disability Insurance Benefits, Disabled Widow’s or Widower’s Benefits and Disabled Adult Child benefits, it does not matter whether the disabled individual is rich or poor. Benefits are paid based upon a Social Security earnings record. Supplemental Security Income benefits, however, are paid to individuals who are poor and who are disabled. It does not matter for SSI whether an individual has worked in the past or not. SSI child’s disability benefits are a variety of SSI benefits paid to children under the age of 18 who are disabled. The way in which disability is determined is a bit different for children.

Q: How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?
A:  The best, surest way to file a Social Security disability claim is to go to the nearest Social Security office in person and wait (often for a few hours) to see someone to file the claim in person. In the alternative, a person may contact Social Security by filling out and submitting the form available on the Social Security Web site link or by calling to arrange for a telephone interview to file the claim.

Q: What is my motor vehicle or motorcycle claim worth?
A:  The value of your accident injury claim depends on the severity and permanency of your injuries. Contact me now for a free consultation so I can assess your claim and tell you what I think it is worth.

Q: Should I accept the initial offer that the insurance company has given me?

A:  Not without talking to a lawyer. Insurance companies rarely offer you a fair amount for your injuries or replacement of property.  Two typical examples in  personal injury are in one case the client was offered $4,000 before he hired me. In another case the client was offered $1,500.  In both cases, after the facts of the case became known following discovery, the clients obtained 10 to 20 times their original offers  several months thereafter and before trial. Insurance companies do not get to unilaterally determine the value of your personal injury case or property insurance claim, that is up to you or a jury. If you have already received an offer for your injuries, contact me and I will let you know if I think it is a fair offer. I will not charge you for this consultation.

Q: Can I legally record a telephone conversation I am having with my soon to be divorced spouse and have it be admissible?
A:  The answer in most cases is YES you can; but watch out for wireless transmission to a third party who records the conversation! People v Collins, 438 Mich 8, 11; 475 NW2d 684 (1991), held that police recordings of a conversation with consent of one participant do not violate either the United States or Michigan Constitutions. 11, 40. Moreover, in Lewis v LeGrow, 258 Mich App 175, 185; 670 NW2d 675 (2003), the Court analyzed MCL 750.539c and concluded that “a participant in a private conversation may record it without ‘eavesdropping’ because the conversation is not the ‘discourse of others.’” Likewise, the federal wiretapping act, 18 USC 2510 et seq. provides: “It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication, where such person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception.” 18 USC 2511(2)(c). A participant in the conversation is not prohibited by the statute from recording the conversation without the permission of the other party or parties involved in the conversation. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539(c) states in part a private conversation legally cannot be overheard or recorded without the consent of all participants. The statute which prohibits a person from willfully using any device to eavesdrop upon a conversation without the consent of the parties thereto and which defines “eavesdropping” to mean to overhear, record, amplify or transmit any part of the private discourse of others without their permission contemplates that a potential “eavesdropper” must be a third party not otherwise involved in the conversation being eavesdropped upon.

Q: How soon after I becomes a “person of interest” or am charged in a criminal case should I call you?
A: Call me immediately. In a criminal matter, do not give the police or any other person a statement until you have ask for and have had the opportunity to consult with a lawyer. In criminal prosecutions, this helps to assure constitutional protection guarantees during crucial initial investigations, identification line-ups, searches, seizures, and arrests. I make a point of returning all calls and e-mails promptly. I will make arrangements for a jail visit if require!.

Q: If I am questioned by U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents or police or law enforcement officers, do I have any rights not to answer their questions?
A:Know your Rights! Under United States law, when you are questioned you do not have to answer:
When and where you were born.
Your address.
Where your parents were born.
Where you lived before living in the United States.
Where you come from.
How you came to the United States.
What is your nationality.
Where your passport is from.
Whether you have a Social Security number or not.
Whether you or your family members have a U.S. permanent residence (green card) or other immigrant documentation.
You can choose to answer other questions, such as your name. However, if you are unsure what questions to answer, the best thing to do is to assert your rights by remaining silent and asking to speak to an attorney. Remember, what you say can be used against you later in the legal process.

Q: If I have been seriously injured in an accident, how long should I wait before acting an attorney?
A: While the answer will depend on the type of injury and immediate concerns required for the persons’ medical condition, it’s best to contact the attorney ASAP. I make a point of returning all calls and e-mails promptly and I will make arrangements for a home or hospital visit if required! If you have been seriously injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle, before giving a police statement you should verbally request to first speak with an attorney and if possible arrange ASAP to consult with a lawyer. In personal injury cases other than providing notice, I advise my clients not to discuss anything with insurance company representatives until you have meet with a lawyer. This provides several advantages including gathering and preserving initial and often necessary critical facts, proofs and evidence, Res Gestae witness identities and statements (observations and verbalized comments made at or during the time of event) and photos of the scene. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle or motorcycle crash, you need to know immediately what insurance coverage is available to cover your immediate medical expenses, replacement services and lost wages.

Q: Will I get to talk to a lawyer if I call?
A: Yes. Everyone who calls for an initial free consultation gets to talk to me. I do not have my staff screen cases. Usually you will get to speak with me right away. Otherwise, if I am with a client or busy, I will contact you, generally later that same day.

Q: Should I call you even if I want to handle the claim myself?
A: Yes. In a few minutes over the phone I can usually give you an estimate of what your claim may involve or is worth so you don’t get ripped off.

Q: In an motor vehicle accident, can I recover if the other driver had no insurance?
A: Yes. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can recover money for your medical bills and pain and suffering even if the other driver had no insurance. I recommend that you buy as much uninsured motorist coverage as you can afford. It is inexpensive and can protect you if you are ever seriously injured by an uninsured motorist.

Q: How long does it take to settle most accident personal injury cases?
A: It depends on the nature of your personal injury claim. I have settled smaller claims for the full amount my client wanted within a few months, and after discussions with the individual involved or following contact by the insurance claim adjusters. Larger accident injury cases typically take longer depending on the severity and location in Michigan and may typically last 9 months to several years before a meaningful settlement is discussed.

Q: Will pursuing my personal injury case take up a lot of my time?
A: Yes and No. Often times I only meet with clients for the initial interview and to assist me with discovery questions from the opposing attorney. After that most matters can be handled as needed over the phone. As the case progresses, there will be times when we do need to appear in court, and it will take more time. I believe your time is as important as mine, so I don’t waste it.

Q: Will I have to go to trial?
A: The majority of criminal and personal injury cases don’t go to trial. However, I prepare each case as if it is going to trial. I know from experience, you have to be prepared to go to trial to maximize the offer a prosecutor is willing to make or the amount of money you may receive in your personal injury case.

Q: Why is it so important to hire a Michigan attorney who goes to trial?
A: From my experience, most cases settle before trial and you want to maximize to the fullest, your settlement leverage. If you accept a court appointed attorney or retain an attorney with little or no trial experience, the opposition may sense this as a weakness in your case or think your afraid to go to trial. Seasoned criminal prosecuting attorneys and insurance companies make it a point to know the opposing lawyers. They usually offer them less of a deal or a smaller settlement than the case is worth. I have over 20 years of courtroom experience including case trials.

Q: How do I pay your legal fees?
A: In criminal, business and most family matters, I generally accept work on a fixed fee retainer with an lump sum amount up front that will cover a fixed number of hours. The terms of my representation are discussed in detail during the initial free consultation. My fees generally range between $150/hr for time spent before trial and $200-225 per hour for trial preparation and trial.

I typically handle personal injury cases such as slip and fall, motor vehicle auto accidents, motorcycle and other injury or Social Security Disability cases on a contingency fee basis. This means YOU DO NOT OWE ME AN ATTORNEY FEE UNLESS I RECOVER MONEY FOR YOU. I do not ask for any attorney fees upfront. If there is no recovery there is no attorney fee.

Q: Are there any hidden fees?
A: In contrast to attorney fees for the prosecution of a personal injury or criminal defense case, the payment for costs such as court filing costs, medical, employment or social security record costs, expert consultations or deposition costs remain the client’s ultimate responsibility. I may ask to have you pay all or some of these costs up front. These can be deducted in part initially from the retainer or some attorneys elect to take these costs out on the end in addition to their attorney fee.

I do not charge you any fee for the initial or subsequent consultations, during the course of the case if they are at my request and required in the preparation of the case or for trial.

Q: Do you charge more for filing a lawsuit or going to court?
A: I may ask that you pay as a retainer, the costs of my initial appearance or costs required by the court as filing fees. Otherwise my hourly fee does not increase for filing a lawsuit, going to court, litigating motions, or going to case evaluation. The only time my fees increase is if we go to trial or arbitration, which usually happens in less than 10% of my cases and this will be spelled out in our initial retainer agreement.

Q: I don’t want to sue the person because we are neighbors or know someone in the family. What happens to the person I sue? I do not want to put them into bankruptcy.
A: In all cases as the client you make the final decision on how the case will proceed. Although the lawsuit will have the other persons name on it, we initially are going after the insurance company’s money. In virtually every case, the person we sue does not have to pay, as their insurance company attorneys pay to defend the case and pay the settlement or verdict amount, as well as the legal fees and associated costs . In cases where a verdict may exceed the policy limits, the insurance companies may still be obligated to pay excess coverage benefits, as it is often their fault for not settling earlier within policy limits.

Q: Lawsuits can be expensive, will it cost me any money up front for filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees, and any other costs?
A: Filing a lawsuit, paying court costs and necessary expert witness fees can be very expensive. Every year attorneys spend thousands of dollars in litigation costs. I know that most people cannot afford these costs up front, so I make every effort to forward these costs up front in cases I take.

Q: What types of Michigan accident cases have I handled?
A: I have experience in many types of Michigan personal injury cases ranging from medical and health care negligence, toxic chemical exposures, wrongful death, or motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents, to injuries associated with inadequate mall, hotel or casino security, slip and fall or dog bite.

Q: What types of Michigan criminal cases have I handled?
A: I have concentrated my criminal practice on controlled substances, criminal sexual conduct, (CSC) assault and battery, in addition to theft related matters, including embezzlement, bank fraud, uttering and publishing, home invasion and robbery in state and federal courts.

Q: Is there a statute of limitations in Michigan for a criminal offense?
MCL §767.24 states in part;
A: •No limitation: murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, or a violation of the Michigan anti-terrorism act, chapter LXXXIII-A of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.543a to 750.543z punishable by life imprisonment
•Within 10 years after the offense is committed or if the individual is unidentified and evidence contains DNA, within 10 years after the individual is identified or by the alleged victim’s twenty-first birthday, whichever is later: CSC 2,3,4, and Assault with Intent to Commit Criminal Sexual Conduct(includes charges for “attempt” or “conspiracy to commit [MCL 750 520 (c)(d) or (e) (g)]; M.C.L. 750.145c; Child Sexually Abusive Activity or Material (includes charges for “attempt” or “conspiracy to commit),
10 years; kidnapping, extortion, assault with intent to commit murder.
•6 years: all others including perjury!

Q: Is there a Federal Statute of limitations for a criminal offense?
A. The federal statute of limitations is 18 USC 3282(a), and it provides the following:

Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, no person shall be prosecuted, tried, or punished for any offense, not capital, unless the indictment is found or the information is instituted within five years next after such offense shall have been committed. However, 18 USC 3282 has many exceptions, to numourous to list and it would be advisable to contact an attorney regarding your particular case.

NOTE: This website is provided as advertisement and for informational purposes only and Paul R. Jones makes no warranties, either express or implied, in this listing. Information in this listing, including specific laws or other Internet Web site references, is subject to change without notice.

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