How to act around people with disabilities

Some useful tips

spinalIllness and disability have profound effects on the disabled person and also the loved ones or caregivers. Unless you’ve been there yourself, it is hard to understand the effects of pain and loss of function.

I was sent a link to this page and found many great tips. You can download the booklet here. Please share these with others. And let me know if you have your own experience or tips to add to the conversation. You can post a comment here or email Marjory Harris at


Is a free consultation really free?

What you need to know before you sign a fee agreement

Some lawyers promise a free consultation and then pressure you to sign up. Worse, some send hearing reps to your house who pressure you to sign up.

My consultations are not only free, they are free from pressure tactics.

Why do I spend time giving free legal help? First, I like to help people. I started as a hospital volunteer at age 14, and found that many people appreciated a bit of attention or kind word. I felt good helping people. I never felt I needed to be paid for everything I did to help others — being of service is its own reward.

Second, it’s good for business. Even if someone does not select me as their lawyer, they may refer a client later. Years ago a client came to me who got my name from someone she sat next to on a BART train. That person said she had hired someone else and always regretted it. So there is no rush or push to sign someone up. There have always been enough clients.

When you are having your free consultation, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and interview the lawyer. If the lawyer is too busy to see you and delegates this to someone else, just leave — you are not getting a legal consultation. You are getting a taste of what will come later if you sign up with this busy lawyer. He or she will not be available to answer your questions, explain their strategy, or get your consent.

Ask who will be handling your case. A lawyer who delegates everything to an assistant will be sending out boilerplate form letters, taking knee-jerk actions rather than exploring the most effective strategy, and you will not know or understand the “why” and the “what” of the actions taken in your case.

You have the right to know what is being done in your name. Make sure you assert that right (politely, of course — no one likes being shouted at or listening to abusive language).  A lawyer who does not want to talk with his or her clients, who does not want to explain anything, may or may not be doing a good job with your case. But how will you know? And will you feel good about your choice of representation?

DWC Announces Temporary Total Disability Rates for 2017

Newsline No.: 2016-65                                               Date: June 14, 2016

DWC Announces Temporary Total Disability Rates for 2017

The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) announces that the 2017 minimum and maximum temporary total disability (TTD) rates will increase on January 1, 2017. The minimum TTD rate will increase from $169.26 to $175.88 and the maximum TTD rate will increase from $1,128.43 to $1,172.57 per week.

Labor Code section 4453(a) (10) requires the rate for TTD be increased by an amount equal to percentage increase in the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) as compared to the prior year. The SAWW is defined as the average weekly wage paid to employees covered by unemployment insurance as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor for California for the 12 months ending March 31 in the year preceding the injury. In the 12 months ending March 31, 2016, the SAWW increased from $1,120.67 to $1,164.51—an increase of just under 3.912 percent.

Under Labor Code section 4659(c), workers with a date of injury on or after Jan. 1, 2003 who are receiving life pensions (LP) or permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are also entitled to have their weekly LP or PTD rate adjusted based on the SAWW.

The first quarter 2015 SAWW figures may be verified at the U.S. Department of Labor website, as can the first quarter 2016 SAWW figures.