Experience with Serious Injury
While in college I had a severe automobile accident. I was on my way to vote for the first time in the November 1984 election. I was driving through an intersection when a car made a left turn and hit me head on. My car swerved out of control and before I knew it my car was on the sidewalk.
My low back started to hurt. I thought it would go away. It did not. I developed constant low back and leg pain. I walked with a limp. I had to use a pillow in my car to be able to tolerate driving. It was painful to sit while in class. Some weekends would be spent mostly in bed due to the pain.
In early 1986, I had multi-level lumbar spine discectomy surgery. It was a scary experience. I did not know if it would help. I just had to have faith.
I heard of many who had not been helped. I was afraid of hospitals and needles. I had a mylegram before my surgery. This is where you are awake and a radiologist injects dye into your spine. This was a very scary experience. I had the surgery and spent a week in the hospital recovering. It took several months, but most of my pain was resolved. I am very thankful for the job Milton Heifetz, M.D. did on my back.
Even with my back surgery, I did not miss time from my studies. It was painful, but I worked through it.
After graduating from college in 1989, I went to work at a local accounting firm that specialized in auditing the garment industry. I eventually went to work for two other accounting firms where I manly did tax work. I sat for the Certified Public Accountant Exam in 1989 and passed all four sections on one sitting. The pass rate for CPA candidates passing all four sections in one sitting is only 15%-20%. I obtained my CPA certificate in 1991 after satisfying the State Board of Accountancy experience requirements.
From Accounting to Law
Both of my parents were lawyers who worked in the injury law field. My father, Jack Koszdin, had his own Workers Compensation Law office and, at one time, he was a partner in the largest statewide workers’ compensation firm in California in the 1970’s. As a child, I was exposed to stories about the law at home. When I was in high school, I worked at my father’s office in various jobs. First as a file clerk, then as book keeper.
I decided that I wanted to become a lawyer because I wanted to help people and do more interesting work than tax return preparation, projections, and bookkeeping work.
In the fall of 1993, I enrolled in law school at the University of San Francisco. While in law school, I did an internship with the Alameda County District Attorney’s office Consumer Fraud and Environmental Protection Division. I saw how complex fraud cases were put together and selected for prosecution.
Upon Graduation from law school, I took and passed the July 1996 California Bar Exam on the first try. A year later, I took and passed the July 1997 Nevada Bar exam on the first try.
I went to work at the Law Offices of Koszdin, Fields & Sherry after passing the California Bar Exam. I worked there for two years. While there, I did learn the basics of Workers Compensation Law. Jack Koszdin did give me good insights. However, working for one’s family is not always the best option. In July 1998, I started my own practice from scratch from my house. I had only done one trial. It was tough. I rented out the three bedrooms plus I had another person sleeping on the sofa in the living room. They paid my mortgage and utilities. Those were very tough scary times.
I was able to obtain several total disability awards and settled several large cases in my first two years. My workers’ compensation practice grew. I tried many workers compensation cases and gained a reputation for taking cases to trial rather than taking low settlements. My practice grew.
In 2004, the workers’ compensation laws were changed. With the prospect of less income from workers’ compensation cases and with encouragement from a friend who had worked many years for a large local Social Security law firm, I decided to start helping people in the Social Security and SSI cases. It was a challenge because I had never worked for anyone else doing Social Security disability SSI law. I stumbled, made mistakes, learned, and improved.
I have now done almost 600 Social Security administrative law hearings. I found Social Security SSI law very satisfying because of the difference winning a case makes in a client’s life.
I was amazed when they cried because they won an SSI case that would pay them $ 600 to $ 700 a month. I find this a truly rewarding experience.
My mother, Bobbie Koszdin, worked at my law firm from the beginning until she was age 80. One day in June 2009, I saw that she was out of breath. I told her to go to the doctor. She eventually did go to the doctor. The doctor immediately checked her into the hospital. The doctors discovered that she had a rare lung condition called interstitial pneumonitis. She left the hospital a week later and was connected to oxygen tanks and concentrators for the next three years. She could no longer live alone. I left my home and moved in with her. I took care of her and worked to make her final years as comfortable as possible. This experience gave me great insight to what people with lung disabilities have to cope with and the care that a severely disabled person needs on both a medical and emotional level.
I also practiced criminal defense for several years. I obtained valuable jury trial experience. The vast majority of attorneys who practice workers’ compensation and Social Security disability SSI have never had the valuable insight that jury trial experience provides in presenting arguments, gathering evidence, presenting forensic expert witness testimony, cross examination of police officers and forensic experts, and having to make snap decisions in case presentation. Social Security, SSI and Workers Compensation are administrative law systems where there are no juries and the rules of evidence do not apply.
Understanding the Challenges You Are Facing
I have been through challenges in my life that few people face. These challenges give me an appreciation for the injured worker or Social Security disability client who is in chronic unremitting pain, down on their luck, and worried about their finances and future.
My challenges give me the compassion and insight into the challenges facing disabled, injured people that few other lawyers have from their life experiences. My mother did not give up on me and I won’t give up on you in your workers’ compensation case or Social Security SSI disability case.
Please explore my website to learn more about how I use my unique life experiences and uniquely broad legal experience to help you get the best result in your Social Security SSI or workers’ compensation case.
My mission is to help those who are seriously injured on the job avoid becoming victims of the new post 2004 workers’ compensation system. Our goal is to get our clients as well as possible both physically and financially.
I am a sustaining member of the National Organization of Social Security Claims Representatives (NOSSCR) and have 10 years experience in representing disabled individuals in many types of cases, including claimants seeking Social Security Disability – SSI Benefits.
Our office serves all of Southern California.
- Nevada – License acquired in 1997
- California – License acquired in 1996
- Managing Partner at Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Van Nuys, California, 1996 – present
- Juris Doctor, University of San Francisco School of Law, 1996
- Bachelor of Science, California State University, Northridge, 1989
- Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Star, 2005 and 2006
- National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives, Member 2004 – present
- Los Angeles County Bar Association, Social Security Law Section, Member 1998 – present
- The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) is the most powerful, and most knowledgeable legal voice for the injured workers of California. Serving California’s injured workers since 1966, CAAA has been built with the support of its members who recognized the necessity of an active voice for injured workers.
- Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with third party research. The Rising Stars list is even more selective. While 5% of attorneys are Super Lawyers, only 2.5% of attorneys state-wide can claim the Rising Star distinction.
- Social Security Hearings and Appeals at Law Review CLE, 2012
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