Firm Overview

Patricia A. Smith is a member of the Bars of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia. She represents persons who reside throughout the three-state area.

Employment Issues

This firm predominately represents individuals against large corporations or institutions. We also advise small businesses and corporations on minimizing their risk by the proper handling of issues pertaining to employment and fringe benefits, and matters that arise with their employees. We represent persons in litigation on a variety of matters including breach of an employment contract, wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

Example case

We represented two private security contractors working for a security company with multi-million dollar contracts with DOD and the State Department to provide protection in Iraq. When on a mobile security detail, our clients saw their supervisor fire his weapon for no reason into the windshields of two separate vehicles, likely killing the drivers. When they told their manager of what they had seen, the company fired them. As another example, the firm has represented women in sales positions who performed at the top of the performance charts, winning top company awards, only to be demoted and have their territories taken away, with their territories being given to under-performing males. We have seen this scenario in too many large corporations. We have successfully litigated and/or resolved these and many other wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment and retaliation cases.

Insurance and Employee Benefits

We represent and advise persons on all types of insurance matters, on their employee fringe benefits (i.e., pensions, severance plans, life, health and disability insurance), and on issues pertaining to employee compensation and medical leave.

We actively litigate against insurance companies and plan administrators when those entities unlawfully fail to pay benefits. Whether you purchased your policy on the open market as an individual policy or obtained group insurance coverage through your employer, we can assist in this process.

In 1974, Congress passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), a law that governs all employer provided insurance (medical insurance, life insurance, disability insurance) and other benefits like formal severance plans, pension plans and 401(k) plans. Submitting a claim for these benefits can become very complicated. Pursuing an appeal of a denied claim, even more so. The appeal of a denied insurance claim is extremely important because often the record that is developed before the insurance company is the only evidence that a court will ultimately see.  For that reason the appeal has to be very comprehensive and its submission must include all evidence that a judge would need to see. If you need to appeal a denial of a claim for disability insurance or life insurance, make certain you talk with an attorney experienced in ERISA cases. You only have 180 days to prepare and submit an appeal, so you should not delay. You should also consider consulting with an attorney when you are submitting your initial claim for disability insurance. Insurance companies commonly deny these claims.

Through court litigation and administrative processes the firm has assisted numerous persons suffering debilitating illnesses and diseases in obtaining the benefits due them from the insurance companies.  

Example case

We assisted a pathologist with MS who had severe hand tremors, mobility issues and who had lost her visual color distinction. The insurance company had denied her disability insurance claim and said she could work in her occupation. Of course her work involved putting biopsied material on slides in a microscope and comparing the visual results (including color) and against known files to state the diagnosis. We obtained a reversal of  the insurer’s decision at the appeal level. Also, we assisted two different individuals who had brain surgery for the removal of tumors, which left them cognitively impaired. Again, these reversals were obtained at the administrative appeal level before the insurance company.  

Not all examples are as obviously wrong-headed as the insurers' decisions in these examples. What is apparent is that a disability insurance company will deny a claim even when the evidence to the contrary is very strong. An insurer is a profit-making entity and it does not make a profit by paying claims. We have also assisted persons suffering from such illnesses as AIDS, HIV, various cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), lyme disease, fibromyalgia, severe depression, bipolar disorder and many others.