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Social Security Disability Case

Car accident leaves woman with “hangman’s fracture.” Machelle goes to bat (3 times) to win Social Security disability claim and motor vehicle accident claim.

While “Claire” was driving in New Mexico, an 18-wheel semi-tractor trailer suddenly changed lanes. To avoid being run over by this “monster truck,” she jerked her car to the left and drove into the median. Her car rolled numerous times. Claire sustained severe injuries including a fracture of one of her cervical vertebra, which is known as “hangman’s fracture.”

Claire and her husband initially hired another Colorado Springs lawyer to pursue her Social Security disability claim. However, this attorney was not responsive. The couple decided to make a switch and, thankfully, found Machelle Gielarowski.

Two factors complicated this case:

  1. Although the car accident happened in New Mexico, Claire lived in Colorado. Lawyers always look at the question of jurisdiction. Which state’s laws apply to this case? Since Claire lived in Colorado and bought her auto insurance policy here, Machelle determined this was a Colorado claim.
  2. Prior to the accident, Claire had been suffering from debilitating knee and back pain and had undergone multiple surgeries. Previously, she had worked as a receptionist but had not worked for over a year.

This auto accident significantly compounded Claire’s pain and suffering. She was in severe pain, her neck was immobilized in a giant neck brace for 9 months, she had virtually no range of motion, and one of her neck arteries was crushed!

Machelle tried the case before a local Social Security administrative law judge, which included presenting testimony from our client’s treating doctor. The administrative law judge denied the claim and found that Claire could return to her previous work as a receptionist.

Machelle appealed this denial to the US Federal District Court, who found that the administrative law judge had erred in denying Claire’s Social Security benefits. Claire’s case was remanded to the hearing level, and Machelle retried the case in front of another administrative law judge.

This time, Machelle and her client received a fully favorable decision back to the original date of Claire’s debilitating ailments, prior to the car accident. Next, Machelle successfully settled Claire’s motor vehicle accident case. Claire continues to be in pain and unable to work. Her Social Security disability income and Medicare health insurance coverage help to ease her challenging situation.

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