DiBartolomeo Law Offices - December 2019

Makin’ It Better NEWSLETTER

December 2019

Oregon Workers’ Compensation | Personal Injury | Social Security Disability

1139 Exchange St., Astoria, OR 97103 • 503-325-8600 • JoeDiBartolomeo.com


Winter Celebrations Around the World

Winter is a time for festive joy, with celebrations to carry us through the gloomy weather and keep us cheery about ringing in another year. Sometimes it’s hard to look outside our own traditions because we love them so much, but there’s a whole world out there full of people who have their own wonderfully different ways of celebrating a season that means so much. Here are just a few you might find as fascinating and heartwarming as we do. Celebrated at the end of February to denote the passing of winter, this seven-day festival is a time of indulgence for people all across Russia. As the name suggests, piping hot pancakes (or blinis, as they’re called in Russia) are served up every day of the celebration as people stuff themselves to the gills in preparation for Lent. The blinis are golden, fluffy, and come with an array of decadent toppings, like chocolate and fruit, or savory options, like sour cream and caviar. The festival also involves plenty of dancing, winter sports like ice skating and skiing, and culminates in the burning of the Maslenitsa straw figure to signify the forgiveness of any wrongdoings suffered. That all sounds fun and dandy, but they honestly had us at pancakes. CHINA: LUNAR NEW YEAR While this holiday is celebrated all around the world with varying customs from country RUSSIA: MASLENITSA, OR PANCAKE WEEK

to country, China’s history and traditions surrounding the holiday are the most renowned. Often falling in late January, Lunar New Year marks the start of a new lunar cycle, and thus a time to reflect on the past and look to the future. Family from across the country comes together to spend time appreciating one another and their ancestors as neighborhoods are adorned in a festive scarlet red. Cash gifts are given in small red packets, and food, dancing, parades, and fireworks entertain late into the night. It all culminates in the Lantern Festival, when families light lanterns as a sign of peace and forgiveness. MEXICO: NIGHT OF THE RADISHES Celebrated every year on Dec. 23 in Oaxaca, Mexico, Night of the Radishes is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Bright magenta radishes are grown just for this one-night celebration, when they’re picked then carved into fun and intricate figurines, including Nativity scenes, mythical monsters, and much more. They’re put on display for all to enjoy for just a few hours before they start to wilt, and prizes are awarded to the best carvings. This tradition has roots (pun intended) that date back to 1897 when the mayor of Oaxaca at the time made the carving competition part of the annual Christmas market in an effort to promote local agriculture. Seeing as radishes were already an integral part of Oaxacan cuisine, citizens latched on tight and haven’t let it go since.

AROUND THE WORLD: SANTACON You may have heard of this one or even participated in the past. But for those of you who haven’t, SantaCon is open to all! Throughout the month of December in cities big and small, men and women alike dress up in Santa’s traditional red garb and get together to have some fun. The biggest gathering ever recorded occurred in New York in 2012 where an estimated 30,000 Santas all congregated to celebrate! While some like to get a little rowdy by turning their celebrations into events like festivals and pub crawls, others volunteer their time at charities or raise funds for good causes. Whatever the case, it’s a time for adults to get into the spirit of the season by harkening back to their childhood whimsy about Santa and all the joy he brings. This winter, we hope you’ll celebrate and cherish your own fun traditions to the fullest, whatever they may be. The season can be cold and drab for some, but for all, it should be a time to reflect on our past, be thankful for what we have, and tap into the potential of all the things the coming year may bring.

The Di Bartolomeo Law Office, P.C. 1139 Exchange Street | Astoria, Oregon | 503-325-8600 | www.JoeDiBartolomeo.com

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THE JOY OF A GINGERBREAD HOUSE Everything You Didn’t Know About This Holiday Tradition


Of the many seasonal traditions that sweep our nation, few are as creative, delicious, and satisfying as building your very own gingerbread house. Whether you’re looking to create a simple table decoration or bake a tasty treat to nibble on, everyone can enjoy this holiday activity! Ginger was first cultivated in ancient China, then traded into medieval Europe. There, Europeans incorporated it into culinary traditions and used it to bake cookies into elaborate shapes and works of art, including figures of animals and people. The gingerbread house first appeared in the early 19th century in Germany. Although historians don’t know an exact date, it’s speculated that it gained popularity around the same time that “Hansel and Gretel,” the popular fairy tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm, was published. THE ORIGINS OF GINGERBREAD

ingredients, roll out the dough, and set out plenty of candies and frostings to use, and remember to have fun! If you’re looking for unique gingerbread house ideas, take a look at 20 gingerbread house ideas at TasteofHome.com/collection/ gingerbread-houses.

In 2013, the world record for the largest gingerbread house in the world was broken. The house, topping out at 21 feet and covering 2,520 square feet, was built by Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas, to raise money for a local Level II trauma center. To construct the house, builders created a recipe that required 1,800 pounds of butter, 2,925 pounds of brown sugar, 7,200 eggs, 7,200 pounds of flour, 1,080 ounces of ground ginger, and a few additional ingredients. While you don’t have to challenge yourself to beat the Guinness World Record, you can still have fun creating your very own gingerbread village. Starting your gingerbread house from scratch can be a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy. Give the kids a chance to mix the BUILD YOUR OWN!

WHEN TO TAKE THE MONEY Lump Sum Payments for Partial Disability Awards

Everyone could use more cash on hand, especially when the holidays roll around. For this reason, many workers seeking partial disability benefits often wonder if they could request their award as a single lump sum payment. While this pay structure is possible, we advise you don’t make this decision lightly.

sufficient compensation for your injuries — and you give up the right to appeal for higher compensation. Thus, you run the risk of getting an inadequate sum to cover the costs of lost work and medical bills. By sticking to a monthly pay structure, you get short-term support while fighting for fair compensation for your disability.



If the insurance company has awarded you a permanent partial- disability benefit of $6,000 or more, they will break up this compensation into monthly installments. These payments will begin within 30 days of you receiving their Notice of Closure, and they will continue even if you appeal this notice. Rather than waiting to receive a portion of your benefits every month, you can instead ask to have it sent to you all at once in a “lump sum.” However, this may do more harm than good.

Lump sums can be tempting, especially when faced with significant expenses, like medical care. But, if you can, consult a workers’ compensation attorney before making this important decision. They will listen to your situation and help you identify if your benefits were properly evaluated. That way, you’ll know you aren’t leaving money on the table if you do opt for a lump sum payment. We offer free consultations for exactly this kind of predicament. Joe DiBartolomeo has written the book on Oregon workers’ compensation claims, literally . If you are unsure if you should take a lump sum payment on your partial disability claim, give us a call at 503-325-8600!


When you request a lump sum, you must ensure that the insurance company has evaluated your case correctly. Essentially, you must agree that the sum you are requesting is

The Di Bartolomeo Law Office, P.C. 1139 Exchange Street | Astoria, Oregon | 503-325-8600 | www.JoeDiBartolomeo.com

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No matter what you do, chances are your work can be stressful from time to time. It’s just part of life. However, there can be situations that go well beyond the average mental strain associated with a “long day at the office.” Maybe you develop anxiety after a traumatic workplace accident or receiving threats from coworkers. Damages to your mental health can be difficult to prove in this state, but they can still be covered by workers’ compensation. Oregon law makes a distinction between emotional damages caused by physical injuries and those that stem purely from mental stress — called physical- mental stress and mental-mental stress respectively. Both can be hard to prove, since the consequences of these conditions often don’t manifest in clear, visible behaviors. Still, it’s important to know the options available to you after a traumatic work experience. 2 TYPES OF DAMAGE

could prove life-threatening. By proving that such a debilitating mental disorder arose in the aftermath of your physical injury, you can receive compensation.


Proving that events at work that left you physically unharmed caused lasting damage to your mental health is far harder to prove. For example, you might claim that being consistently overworked has caused you to develop an anxiety disorder — but how do you prove it? Even if you are diagnosed, you have to prove that work events were the primary cause of the condition. For that reason, these claims are rarely considered, save for the most extreme circumstances. Of course, if you are being emotionally tormented by a specific coworker, you might consider a civil suit for “intentional infliction of emotional stress.” The coworkers conduct must qualify as “extreme and outrageous,” such as recklessly endangering your life. However, this personal injury claim can be complicated if you are also pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. It’s best to consult a workers’ compensation lawyer you trust to get a better picture of your legal options. A THIRD OPTION


These emotional damages are more straightforward and easier to prove than mental-mental stress injuries. A common example is developing depression after becoming disabled. This can be a debilitating condition that, if left untreated or undiagnosed,

POTATO LATKES Inspired by The New York Times


• 2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into quarters • 2 large eggs • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour • 2 tsp kosher salt

• 1 tsp baking powder • 1/2 tsp black pepper • Safflower or vegetable oil, for frying


1. Using either a food processor with a coarse grating disc or the coarse side of a box grater, grate potatoes and onion. (If using a food processor, halve or quarter potatoes.) Once grated, wrap in a clean dish towel or cheesecloth to wring out as much moisture as possible. 2. Transfer to a mixing bowl and mix in eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, and pepper. 3. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan containing 1/4-inch of oil over medium-high heat. Use a heaping tablespoon to drop batter into the hot pan, working in batches. Use a spatula or spoon to form them into discs. Fry about 5 minutes per side, until deeply browned. 4. Transfer to a paper towel-lined wire rack to drain, and serve alongside applesauce and sour cream.

The Di Bartolomeo Law Office, P.C. 1139 Exchange Street | Astoria, Oregon | 503-325-8600 | www.JoeDiBartolomeo.com

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503-325-8600 JoeDiBartolomeo.com


1139 Exchange St. Astoria, OR 97103

What’s Inside

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Winter Celebrations Around the World

Building Your Own Gingerbread House

Can Your Partial Disability Benefits Come All at Once?


Mental Damages at Work

Potato Latkes


The History Behind Christmas Lights


The first string of twinkling lights illuminating your neighbor’s house is always a telltale sign of the upcoming seasonal festivities. Christmas lights are a holiday staple, but have you ever wondered where this beloved tradition started? The tradition of hanging lights on the tree originally started with candles. Because this posed an immense fire hazard, Edward Hibberd Johnson, a close friend of Thomas Edison and vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, vowed to find a better way to decorate Christmas trees with light. In December 1882, three years after Edison’s invention of the light bulb in November 1879, Johnson hand-wired 80 red, white, and blue lightbulbs together and wound them around a Christmas tree in his parlor window. A passing reporter saw the spectacle and declared in the Detroit Post and Tribune, “One can hardly imagine anything prettier.”

Johnson continued this tradition, increasing the number of lights each year and eventually putting them up outside. But because electricity was still a new concept, many years passed before the fad took off for regular Americans. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge began the tradition of lighting the National Christmas Tree, which spurred the idea of selling stringed lights commercially. By the 1930s, families everywhere were buying boxes of bulbs by the dozen. Today, an estimated 150 million Christmas lights are sold in America each year, decorating 80 million homes and consuming 6% of the nation’s electricity every December. Whether you’ll be putting up your own lights or appreciating the most impressive light displays in your neighborhood or town, let the glow fill you with joy this season. Just don’t leave them up until February!

The Di Bartolomeo Law Office, P.C. 1139 Exchange Street | Astoria, Oregon | 503-325-8600 | www.JoeDiBartolomeo.com

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