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Jeffry K. Finer

Jeffry Finer’s Answers

5 total

  • I just received a letter in the mail to show up for an arraignment for theft 2, what steps should I take?

    I am being accused of taking an envelope of cash with 1000 dollars in it. There are statements but no eye witnesses or cameras. They found tampering with the computer record system but it wasn't under my account. I have a small record when I was 1...

    Jeffry’s Answer

    You need counsel, certainly, but not necessarily for the arraignment. Hiring a lawyer is stressful, because you may not know much ahead of time about the person and once hired it is awkward to switch. Here are the answers to your specific questions and a few thoughts to keep in mind. Since arraignment is so soon, I'm thinking you may not have time to interview and hire a lawyer and may be showing up alone. For this stage, on a summons, that's fine.

    Arraignment. You might feel much better having a lawyer by this time, but if you haven't decided on who yet, that's okay. This is the formal "reading of the charge" (but when the court asks if you need it read, you can say no, politely, and the court will appreciate the time saved).

    Because you received a "summons" and were not out-and-out arrested, it is highly likely that you will not be held. The judge will probably take the cases in alphabetical order and you will get a chance to hear how the routine goes. If you're first, just keep in mind that the court only wants to advise you of specific rights and to ask for your plea. You will plead "NOT GUILTY".

    The court will then give you a date for upcoming events (like pretrial, motions, trial). You get a piece of paper with your next court appointment. If the next day happens to be a pre-set vacation or there's any reason to think it won't work, it's easier to tell the judge right then and ask for a different date. For a good reason, most judges will set a different date.

    I tell clients to wear a shirt with a collar (male), sedate top (female), and to only answer the questions the judge actually asks. (And turn the cell phone off before you go inside). This is not the time to explain or argue. Say yes to the questions about your rights (signifying that you understand). The judge will ask if you're getting an attorney. Whether public defender eligible or getting private counsel, just say you are working on it. The judge will then ask for your plea. Then set the dates. Then you're out.

    When you go to hire a lawyer, be clear about how the fee is set (hourly? flat rate? what if it end with a plea? what if it goes to trial?), be clear how you are to reach the lawyer if there's an emergency. Bring a list of possible witnesses (phone numbers are nice, too) and a quick description of why they might know something. This helps the lawyer organize and help you.

    Good luck.

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  • What if I disagree with the amount of settlement L and I sends me? Do I not cash the check? What do I do?

    Injured left shoulder at work, should be returning to light duty, l and I are asking dr for rating.

    Jeffry’s Answer

    With respect, I must disagree with my colleagues. You may cash a settlement check and still challenge the amount. This is different from the usual rule in insurance claims and causes some confusion. For most types of insurance claims (car, home, etc) cashing a check can be deemed acceptance of the terms and can result in your losing any right to challenge the amount. THIS IS NOT THE CASE WITH WASHINGTON'S L&I coverage.

    From your question, it appears that this is a claim-closure check: that is, a "permanent partial disability" award for the permanent loss of function suffered as a result of your injury. The amount was determined by the claims manager who reviewed current medical records and determined two things: (1) that you had reached your maximum recovery (meaning, your current level of recovery is probably best you can expect) and (2) that you have lost some function, measured by objective clinical evidence, and that loss of function translates into the award sent you.

    There are many reasons that amount may be wrong. You may not have reached your maximum recovery; meaning, you may need further treatment. Or you may have related conditions in addition to the one you are receiving the award and these conditions may be permanently worse due to the injury. (For example: a broken ankle that sets poorly may later effect the knee, or hip). Another reason: the amount of the award may be inadequate based on the methods the Department uses to evaluate the loss of function.

    Handling the case from here is complicated and counsel can be very helpful in advising of your rights and helping you challenge the award.

    Some thoughts: to challenge the settlement, you will need support from a doctor (your attending doctor, or a doctor who worked on your injury, or perhaps even a doctor hired specifically to review the L&I case with your lawyer). I tell clients to think of the lawyer as a bow, and the doctor as the arrow. Can't go to war without an arrow...

    Another consideration: the award you just received is yours to cash. The only downside would be from the following possibilities: (1) the award is plainly wrong and too high. This is so rare, I can only recall seeing it once, when the Department put a zero at the end of a payment in error... (2) if you challenge the award because you believe you need more treatment, the Department will want to take the award back while you pursue this additional treatment. The Department will likely re-award the amount once treatment is concluded and it is possible that the Department will rate the award lower than the original award. Very rare, but possible. Similarly, if you are put back on timeloss (wage replacement payments) as a result of your challenging the claim closure, the Department will count the settlement award against new timeloss payments. Again, when the claim re-closes the award will be re-issued. That re-issued amount could be the same (no change in loss of function), higher (increased loss of function), or even lower (rare: but sometimes folks get more treatment and rate lower at settlement).

    So you may need to carefully budget the money while you and your attorney challenge the claim closure.

    But your question (in part) asked whether you can cash the check and still disagree with the amount. The quick and dirty answer is "Yes".

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  • Who would be to blame and what i am needed to do?

    I am currently on washington state labor and industries for an accident that happened back in may of september of 2011, the doctors cleared me to go back to work.the whole time i've complained of back pain since the accident,only to be la...

    Jeffry’s Answer

    You're not going to find relief from the missed diagnosis. Medocal malpractice claims are very difficult, expensive and even slower than Washington Labor and Industries. Further, it may be impossible to prove that the degree of injury suffered at the time of the original injury accounts for the entire injury showing up on the MRI now. You may want to search out blame, but I don't have helpful advice on what to do with it. I do have suggestions for what to do, going forward, in the Labor and Industries claim itself. Not necessarily in order...

    1. Cooperate with the retraining consultant. That's the person L&I assigned to develop a retraining program for you. Some are good. Many are not. But if you drag your feet, the vocational consultant will document "non-cooperation" and your case gets harder.

    2. Get a lawyer. There are a half-dozen top flight L&I lawyers in Spokane, some who have been doing L&I for 30+ years. It isn't the size of the ad. If asking around doesn't get you recommendations, feel free to call me. I'm in the book. Happy to refer you or take your case if that's appropriate.

    3. Did you get your time loss after you were laid off? If you returned to light or modified duties and the job "ended" due to the residual effects of your original injury you should have been placed back on time loss. Were you making the same money when you were temporarily back on duty? If your paycheck was reduced for that period of time, due to the injury, you may be able to claim a percentage of the lost income (called LEP or loss of earning power/potential).

    4. While it's the only way to keep the time loss check going (working with the voc counselor) it is true that you are likely to only land on your feet if you take your future into your hands. The voc counselor is not going to find you a job, not a decent job, NOT ANY job. The counselor is going to provide you with the minimal training to determine on paper that you are capable of doing some entry level scut work. The Department is not required to return you to your former pay-scale, or even to your maximum potential: just get you acceptable on paper for some position. So, you have a few months of "training" to get yourself ready for a return to employment. Once the vocational consultant says you're employable (not "employed" but capable of employment) your case will be evaluated for closure with a lump sum payment for your permanent loss of function. Whatever that amount is, it won't begin to replace what you've lost.

    5. If you are injured to the degree that, taking your education and background into account, you may be unable to ever find real employment. If so, the case goes to "pension review" where the Department will evaluate whether you are capable of holding a job. A win means a check each month for the remainder of your life. Unless you are in an iron lung, this is a huge undertaking and the stakes are very high. Get counsel.

    6. Have you applied for Social Security Disability? The standards are different than L&I, so what happens in one does not automatically dictate what happens in the other. SSD can also provide temporary benefits if you're able to recover in the long run.

    -Jeffry Finer

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  • Can I claim a on the job injury if I resigned 3 weeks after it happened?

    Injured on Feb 13 resigned on Mar 9

    Jeffry’s Answer

    Does your chiro's records reference how you got hurt? If so, highly likely that you will win if you persist.

    While many employers appeal claims where a worker did not make a timely notice to the boss, or even a timely filing of a claim with the Department of Labor and Industries (these are different acts), the Department is accustomed to seeing injured workers who waited many weeks or even months before filing.

    If your employer does contest, and if the Department sides with the employer, I think you will find that the appeal process for workers' compensation is fairly generous in giving workers the chance to prove their case. Those chiropractic records will help a lot, even if you waited a few days or longer before getting treatment.

    A lawyer can help you and if they are experienced in WA workers' compensation, will be able to help you assemble evidence that the injury was work-based (home-based witnesses, work-based witnesses, Chiro records, etc).

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  • Can one be charged with robbery without a victim coming forward in Washington State?

    Because of the illegal nature of what was stolen, the victim will not report being robbed so the police do not know who was robbed just that there was a robbery via text messages on the phones of the ones who committed it. The police had access t...

    Jeffry’s Answer

    As below, there's a case but it has problems without a victim. Still, the prosecutor has the "fruits" of the robbery, and some statements in the phone that look like an admission. That's enough to file charges.

    Bigger picture: "pulling over" someone in a car does not (without more) allow police to rummage through the car. Recent State Supreme Court emphasizes that rummaging through a car for evidence is not okay in Washington without special circumstances (like a warrant). So the facts of the traffic stop may be the route to suppression of the seized evidence... If charged, you would want a lawyer who was up to date and capable of reviewing the legality of the seizure.

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