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Livgard & Lloyd is a full service law firm with particular experience in litigation, Social Security disability, estate planning, probate, real estate and business law. We represent individuals and businesses facing legal questions that are enormously important to our clients, their employees and their families. We treat every person as an individual and listen to your specific needs.

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Social Security Disability Application Process

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a long and challenging process, which is why it is not something we recommend trying without first contacting an experienced Social Security disability attorney.  Statistics have shown that over 65% of initial claims are turned down, and an additional 87% of reconsiderations are denied as well.  But this is no reason to give up.  With the help of our experienced Minnesota law firm, we will help you receive the benefits you deserve.

In order to better understand what the application entails, it’s important to know which benefits you may be eligible to receive.  These two types of benefits include:

1.) Social Security Disability Insurance (known as DIB or Title II)

2.) Supplemental Security Income (known as SSI or Title XVI)

Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance:  Generally, to be eligible for Social Security disability, a worker must be both fully insured and currently insured.  A worker is fully insured if he or she has worked at least 40 total quarters.  A worker is currently insured if he or she has worked at least 20 of the past 40 quarters.  Other requirements include:

  • Has worked a job covered by Social Security
  • Medical condition that meets the Social Security Definition of Disability.
  • All ages are eligible that meet the minimum work requirements
  • Expected disability duration of over 12 months

Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income:  When applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, we recommend applying for SSI benefits at the same time, as the Social Security Administration will review the applications and inform the you are eligible for either.  The requirements for SSI benefits, among others, include:

  • Low income requirements
  • Medical condition that meets the Social Security Definition of Disability (same as above).
  • All ages are eligible.
  • Expected disability duration of over 12 months

To begin the process of review, an applicant must initiate the process by applying online, in person or over the telephone.  To apply for SSDI, you’ll need to fill out Form SSA-16-BK “Application for Disability Insurance Benefits” and Form SSA-3368-BK, “Adult Disability Report”.  For SSI benefits, you’ll need to fill out Form SSA-8000-BK, Application for Supplemental Security Income, and either Form SSA-3368-BK, Adult Disability Report or Form SSA-3820-BK, Disability Report-Child.

To learn more about the process of filing for Social Security disability in Minnesota, contact the experienced lawyers of Livgard & Lloyd today.

5 Things Every Glass Shop Owner/Manager Should Do Within The Next 30 Days

For people who run glass companies that replace automobile glass, here are five things you should do within thirty days of reading this post:

1) Familiarize – or refamiliarize – yourself with the AGRSS standard for windshield replacement.  This is a liability issue.  The ANSI approved Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard will likely be the standard by which your installation techniques are evaluated should there be an allegation that your technician negligently replaced a windshield.  Whether you register with AGRSS is up to you.  Following the AGRSS standard on every installation is essential to avoiding liability and, hopefully, avoiding problems in the first instance.  Find the AGRSS standard on line, go through each of its requirements and assess how your team meets that standard.  If there are issues, address them now, not later.

2)  Review the terms of your written warranty and make sure that it covers everything you want it to cover and nothing more.  Don’t have a written warranty?  Get one.  Having a well written limited warranty does many things for an auto glass replacement company.  It shows you to be a company that stands behind your work and gives comfort to your customer that they can rely on your workmanship.  It provides a tool in the constant battle to combat steering.  How many times have your customers cancelled appointments with your company because a third-party administrator suggests to the customer that you don’t guaranty your work?  You can provide the warranty to customers, post it on your web site, etc. to educate the customer.  If worded properly, a written warranty will identify what is covered by your warranty and what is not so that you don’t end up addressing perils you don’t want or have to cover.  The written warranty is an important document; it merits review from time to time.

3)  Evaluate your invoice/work order documents.  These are, perhaps, your most important tools in getting paid and earning a living.  Look at each section and make sure that it is clear, current and makes sense.  A lot of invoices I review are out of date and don’t make sense given current pricing models.  Also, make sure that every document that references payment contains an assignment of insurance proceeds rather than simply a direction to pay.  If you aren’t sure whether your invoice and work order are doing what they should, call us.  We can help straighten this out.

4)  Make an appointment with your insurance broker/agent and review your insurance coverages to make sure you have the right kinds of coverage and sufficient levels of coverage for your business.  When was the last time you had an insurance review?  If it has been more than year ago, it has been too long.  For sure insurance is expensive but it’s not nearly as expensive as not having the right insurance or not having enough insurance.  Do you have insurance to cover the loss to your business if your office manager embezzles from your company?  Are you covered if your building is hit by a tornado or has a fire?  Do you have a enough coverage if a car rolls over after you’ve replaced the windshield and the roof crushes killing or maiming a family?  Pay attention to the bad things that  happen to other businesses and see if they could happen to you and your business.

5)  Evaluate your supplier/provider relationships.  Are the businesses where you spend your money working with you as a partner or as a competitor?  Do they help your business or hurt it? For example, is your insurer someone with whom it is easy to report a claim, someone who promptly pays your claims and pays you a fair rate?  Are they a company that steers customers away from you, delays your payments or pays less than other insurers with whom you do business?  Does your glass supplier simply supply what you need or do they operate shops that compete with you as well?  In this economy, you need to be picky about those with whom you do business and make sure that they are working with you rather than against you.

Bonus Tip:   Do you have kids?  Do you have a will?  If you don’t have a will, make an appointment with an attorney and have a will prepared for you.  No one really wants to contemplate their own death.  If you have kids, however, you have to address the worst case scenario – something happens to you and your kids’ other parent.  You need to be a parent in the truest sense of the word and take care of those kids by designating guardians and making sure that, to the extent possible, your assets are orderly transferred to best take care of your kids.  Do yourself a huge favor and avoid downloading forms from the Internet or going to some web site that promises to save you money by providing a cookie cutter solution to what is an enormously important set of decisions.  It will definitely cost more to go to an attorney as opposed to filling in the blanks on a form but the value provided is significant.  Rarely are two families alike.  A competent attorney will be able to tailor your will to your situation.  Just like you wouldn’t use the wrong glass or adhesive in the installation of your family’s windshield, you don’t want to save a few dollars and get your will wrong.

Livgard & Lloyd client prevails in federal court of appeals

On Friday, June 17, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in a published opinion, ruled in favor of our client, Alpine Glass, Inc., a Minnesota auto glass replacement company, in an appeal brought by Farmers Insurance over an arbitration award issued in favor of Alpine.  An arbitrator found that Farmers had breached its insurance policy in short paying Alpine’s glass replacement invoices and awarded Alpine more than $400,000.  The award was originally appealed to United States District Judge Patrick Schiltz who rejected Farmers’ complaints about the award and refused to set it aside.  Farmers then took an appeal to the Eighth Circuit.

The unanimous panel of judges affirmed Judge Schiltz’s order upholding the arbitration award.  It also affirmed Judge Schiltz’s decision that Farmers and Safelite sending out of pricing letters and confirmation faxes does not create a scenario where the glass shop is bound to the insurer’s prices when the shop performs replacement work.  The Eighth Circuit, like the Connecticut Supreme Court in an unrelated case in 2009 and Judge Schiltz earlier in this case, concluded that the insurer’s faxes do not present an offer for what is typically called a “unilateral contract.”  Insurers have recently tried using the unilateral contract defense in responding to short pay actions.  These most recent decisions should put an end to that effort.

Click here to read the Eighth Circuit’s opinion.

 

If you are looking for legal representation contact us today.

Businesses beware of email scams

We know we’re not the first to say it, but there is no doubt it bears repeating:  email scams pose a threat to us all, both personally and professionally.  With the economy getting better but doing so slowly, many businesses are still not back to where they want to be.  Even businesses that are rebounding want to push their growth higher to make up for lost ground.  Given that climate, no one wants to pass up a new business opportunity.  Sometimes, however, you need to do just that.  What seems to be a promising, new opportunity may well be a trap where someone is using emails to separate you from your money.

Our firm, like your business, is not immune to the threat.  We regularly receive scam emails that make their way past our firewall.  Recently, the following email came in:

Dear Counsel,

Am in need of a business/contract litigation lawyer to handle a major case for us, your legal services is highly needed.  Do get back to me asap.

William Hardy.

Do we want additional clients? Of course we do.  Major cases? Even better!  The only problem is that there is no major case for us to handle in conjunction with this type of email.  This is a classic scam; a quick search of Google confirms that to be the case.

The scam begins by attempting to convince the recipient that there is big money to be made by doing business with them.  In this kind of case, a response to the initial email will often be followed by an offer to pay a large retainer.  Perhaps the offer will include a pledge that the funds will be wired directly into your account as soon as all of the account information is provided.  Instead of transferring the funds as promised, the scammers instead attempt to make an electronic withdrawal and empty the account.

Other versions of the scam involve sending a check in amount far exceeding that which was originally discussed and then asking that a refund be issued immediately.  The original check always bounces or is dishonored and the unsuspecting customer loses a large sum of money.  Our favorite variation is the email from a purported surviving relative of some deceased former king or president of a troubled far away country who needs our help to get a vast fortune out of their former homeland that they are willing to share in exchange for our assistance.  All they need is access to our bank account and some seed money and riches beyond our imagination will be ours!

While some of you may say, “that can never happen to me,” don’t be so sure.  A lawyer we know received an email seeking representation.  The email’s author provided a fair amount of detail – company names and addresses, individual names, etc. – all of which seemed to check out in that there were in fact companies with those names and people working for those companies that matched the individuals identified.  The “new client” stated that he understood that a retainer would be required and, due to the urgency of the situation, would agree to wire the retainer to the lawyer’s bank so that work could start immediately on this time sensitive project.  The lawyer then provided the bank information.  Thankfully, another attorney in his office thought something sounded fishy and did a quick Google search and found out that the request for representation was a scam.  The lawyer quickly contacted his bank and closed the account before the scammers could hit it.  Catastrophe was averted, but it was a very close call.

The moral of the story is that no matter how much you need to grow your business, be wary of new email customers that seem too good to be true.  Even when you think you are being exceedingly careful, it may not be careful enough.  For example, we are aware of a situation where a victim of one of these scams refused to send the requested refund until they were assured by their bank that the original check had cleared.  Once the verbal confirmation was received, the refund was issued.  After the refund was transmitted, however, the check was dishonored and the company was out several thousand dollars. The company later learned that the check “clearing” was not recognized by the bank as an assurance that the check was good and could not be dishonored.  Of course, the victim of the scam blamed the bank while the bank blamed the victim.  Ultimately, an agreement was reached by the parties, but only after both sides retained lawyers.  Resolving a bad situation like this is expensive and no bargain – even if the victim gets some or all of its money back.

Thankfully, Google is a very useful tool to check out email contacts and find out if they are likely a scam.  If you search the name of the sender and add any other details that are contained in the email and include “scam” as a search term, chances are you are going to find out the truth behind that fabulous opportunity.

Nobody is immune from these kinds of scams.  You need to pay attention, do some research and trust your gut instinct.  As the old adage goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Light rail construction not adversely impacting access to our offices

The construction of the light rail’s Central Corridor line between Minneapolis and St. Paul through the University of Minnesota campus and down University Avenue is now underway.  It has been well publicized that traffic on University Avenue is a mess and access to businesses along the route is difficult if not impossible.

The good news for our law firm, however, is that where we are located on University Avenue is an oasis of calm.  The light rail route will pass close by, but will not be directly on University Avenue right outside of our office – instead it will be a block or so north of University Avenue when it passes our offices.  Consequently, there is no construction here – access to our building and our parking lot is unimpeded, all four lanes of University Avenue are open and you can even park on the street if you prefer that over our free parking lot.

If you need to come to our offices for whatever reason, please do not fear what you’ve heard or seen in the press about light rail construction on University Avenue.  In our neighborhood, it is business as usual.

1000 Social Security Cases Concluded

In the Spring of 2011, Paul Livgard concluded his 1000th Social Security disability case.  While we have been able to assist clients in their initial applications and requests for reconsideration, the vast majority of the matters have been concluded following a hearing before an administrative law judge where our clients are able to make their cases before a real person and to have Paul present their medical evidence and arguments as to why they should receive benefits.

It is no secret that Paul is one of the most experienced, most successful and highly regarded attorneys handling Social Security cases in Minnesota.  As a result, the firm’s Social Security practice is currently booming.  More and more people are coming to Livgard & Lloyd seeking representation in disability matters.  Many see our television ads and relate to the scenarios described.  Others are referred by their friends or family members who have been well represented by the firm in other cases.  Still others come to us who are unhappy with their current representation, often by out of towners who won’t answer questions or who seem to see the claimant as simply the next file that has to be dealt with but only when the time to get the case resolved arrives.

Paul enjoys the opportunity to help people who, because of their circumstances, really need the help.  He also enjoys the challenge presented by the cases, many of which have lengthy and complicated medical histories.  Paul and our staff of dedicated professionals continue to treat every client as an individual and with the utmost respect.  We understand that, no matter how many of these cases we pursue over the years, your case is the most important one to you.

If you are looking for legal representation to help you through the Social Security Disability process, contact the experts today.

Welcome to our new web site

Welcome to the new web site of Livgard & Lloyd.  If you have been to our site before, you will recognize immediately that things have dramatically changed.  Not only does the site look much more professional, the content of the site now has meaning.  We have information on our practice areas and biographies for our staff (which soon will include photos) so that you’ll have a much better idea about what we do and about the people you interact with.  There is also a place where you can get directions to our offices from wherever you will be traveling.

We have added an area to provide updates and news that we believe will impact our clients.  Our goal is to add to this area frequently and we invite you to visit this page often stay up to date on issues that relate our areas of practice and our representation of our clients.  We welcome any thoughts you might want to share regarding additional information that would be helpful for you on our web site and questions you would like us to address on our blog.

We appreciate the trust and confidence that our clients place in us to handle their legal matters effectively and efficiently.  We hope you find the web site useful and informative.  If you have suggestions, questions or comments, click on the contact us link to get to a place where you can send us an email.

Minnesota Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Livgard & Lloyd Clients

On July 16, 2009, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of the firm’s clients in an important case involving the ability of insurance policy holders to assign their insurance benefits for broken auto glass to the company that performs the replacement services. The Supreme Court’s decision reverses two Minnesota Court of Appeals decisions that had invalidated assignments of insurance proceeds. Read the rest of this entry »

Livgard & Lloyd Clients Prevail in Connecticut Supreme Court Decision

On August 25, 2009, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of the firm’s clients in a case involving an effort by insurance companies to limit their obligations to pay automobile glass claims such that the insurers are able to pay less than what their policies require them to pay. The Supreme Court’s decision reverses a Connecticut trial court decision holding that an insurance company could escape liability for paying otherwise valid glass claims by sending out advance reimbursement letters to every glass shop setting forth pricing lower than what the glass companies were charging. Read the rest of this entry »