I moved to Vermont in 2000 after completing law school in Colorado. I immediately started representing injured workers making Workers’ Compensation claims and people suffering personal injuries because of the fault of others. Soon after that I also started representing disabled people in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York in claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). I have been recognized as one of the very top lawyers practicing in the area of Social Security Disability law in all of New England by the national publication, Super Lawyers. I am also an expert in the thorny relationship between Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability benefits. I have educated lawyers from across the country on the relationship of those two benefits programs and have consulted with numerous attorneys in Vermont and other states on how to get the best results for their clients from Workers’ Compensation settlements.
At Jarvis & Modun we take an approach to representing clients that is different from some other firms. When a person is injured or becomes disabled, he or she may be entitled to compensation and benefits from multiple sources. Many attorneys won’t represent clients in all of their potential claims. Some focus exclusively on personal injury, Workers’ Compensation, or Social Security disability. I have represent injured and disabled clients in most major areas of injury and disability law. Many times I have pursued multiple claims for the same client. I have pursued personal injury claims and workers’ compensation for the same clients. I have pursed Social Security Disability and long-term disability for the same clients. Most frequently, I pursue workers’ compensation and Social Security disability for the same client. The relationship between the various areas of injury and disability law can be complicated, and my clients are often relieved to have a single lawyer who can advise them of those relationships and pursue multiple claims on their behalf. The only major area of disability law in which I no longer represent clients is the area veterans’ claim. While I have represented veterans in service-connected disability claims in the past, I have found the bureaucracy at the VA too difficult to deal with.
I represent people at all levels of the Social Security claims process. Unlike some law firms, Jarvis & Modun never sends a paralegal or non-attorney representative to represent a client at a Social Security hearing. We understand the importance of a disability claim in the lives of our clients, and we believe that our clients deserve representation from a trained lawyer. Personally, I have represented clients from initial applications for benefits, through hearings in front of administrative law judges, into United Stated District Courts, and as far as the United States Court of Appeals. I believe that these programs are vitally important for our country as a safety net for those who cannot work at no fault of their own, and I fight hard for my clients.
Some of my most rewarding Social Security Disability and SSI cases have come from representing clients with intellectual disabilities. A few years ago I represented a young man who suffered from microcephaly that caused him to have impaired eyesight and an intellectual disability. He had tried to work in a grocery store but had lost the job because of mistakes he had made in maintaining his personal appearance. My client’s IQ had been tested, but this had been done with a test created more than 10 years before it had been used. The medical literature suggested that the scores from that test were too high. I initially argued this to the administrative law judge (ALJ), but he did not accept my argument and denied the claim. Next, I brought the case to the U.S. District Court. It said that the ALJ should take a closer look at the claim and sent the claim back to him. Before the second hearing, my client had his IQ tested again using an updated test. This time the scores were significantly lower and showed that he was medically disabled because of his intellectual disability. The ALJ awarded him benefits.
In Workers’ Compensation, I have tried and argued cases before the Vermont Department of Labor, Vermont Superior Courts, and the Vermont Supreme Court. I get great satisfaction from holding insurance carriers accountable for injuries that occur at work and from making sure my clients get the benefits they deserve and need.
One Workers’ Compensation case that stands out in my mind is of a woman who twisted her knee at work. I represented her in her initial claim and made sure that she received the benefits to which she was entitled. At the end of her claim, her doctor said that she was at an increased risk for needing a knee replacement surgery in the future. Sure enough, a few years later her knee had gotten worse and she now needed a total knee replacement. We asked the insurance carrier to pay for the surgery. However, the insurance carrier sent my client to an “independent” medical examination with a doctor that it hired. That doctor said that although my client had been suffering from gradually worsening knee pain ever since her work injury, her knee condition was no longer related to work. With the help of my client’s treating doctor, we challenged the insurance company’s denial. After a formal hearing, the Vermont Department of Labor sided with us and awarded my client benefits for the knee replacement.
I have also represented Vermonters who are the victims of vehicle crashes, premises liability, and other cases in which they have suffered personal injuries because of someone else’s fault or negligence . These cases are particularly rewarding in their own right.
I have represented clients with all sorts of serious medical conditions and disabilities. These include: