Mar 23, 2013 Tips
What is healthcare fraud?
Healthcare fraud usually involves the filing of a false claim, with either a private organization or a government benefit program, to receive a profit. For example, a medical provider might bill for services that are not medically necessary or for a more expensive procedure than was actually performed. Frequently, medical professionals will engage in an illegal kickback. An illegal kickback occurs when a person receives a benefit in exchange for the referral of a patient that will be paid for with Medicare of Medicaid. In addition to medical professionals, a consumer might commit healthcare fraud by providing dishonest information when applying for a government program, or by using another person’s insurance information.
How often does healthcare fraud occur?
Annually, approximately 3 to 10 percent of healthcare expenditures in the United States go toward paying fraudulent healthcare claims. In particular, Medicare and Medicaid are the most common targets of abuse. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is primarily responsible for investigating and targeting fraud, health care fraud costs the government approximately $80 billion each year.
What are the penalties for a violation?
Healthcare fraud is a criminal offense. Under 18 U.S.C. §1347, anyone who knowingly defrauds a healthcare benefit program will be fined or imprisoned for at least 10 years, or both. If the violation results in serious injury or death the punishment will be increased to at least 20 years incarceration or life in prison, respectively. Additionally, a medical provider who commits fraud might have his or her medical license revoked.
How can one report healthcare fraud?
Currently, the federal False Claims Act allows anyone who has evidence of healthcare fraud against a federal program to file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government. Anyone who files a lawsuit under the Act will receive a portion of the damages recovered. Most states have also enacted false claims acts.
Many federal agencies, such as the FBI and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), have procedures to investigate healthcare fraud. Anyone with evidence of fraud can report it to the FBI or the BlueCross BlueShield National Anti-Fraud Department. There is no requirement to be a member of BlueCross BlueShield, or see this more detailed list of federal agencies. Additionally, it might be helpful to contact a state insurance fraud bureau.
What can be done to combat the problem?
Recently, the federal government has begun to pass additional legislation to target false health care claims. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes a variety of mechanisms to combat fraud.
Individuals can prevent healthcare abuse by carefully reviewing insurance policies and healthcare information. They should talk to their medical provider about what the provider is planning to charge, as well as what they will be expected to pay. It is important to never provide insurance information to any entity that is not performing medical services. Anyone who believes that fraud has been committed should report the problem as soon as possible.
Mar 22, 2013 Tips, Uncategorized
Owning a sports car is a dream come true for many people, but having a motorcycle might be even cooler. The freedom and rebellious stereotype of the motorcyclist has an allure for many. As awesome as owning and operating a motorcycle can be, these two-wheeled vehicles are still dangerous if not used with caution. While the fascination with bikes will never disappear, the rate of motorcycle accidents can be brought to an all-time low if the right steps are taken to prevent injury and death. What can manufacturers and policy makers do so that people can enjoy their motorbikes without ending up in a hospital or morgue?
Limit Motorcycle Speed
A major appeal of the motorcycle is that it is typically a fast and maneuverable machine. Adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers love the high they get from zipping down a busy highway at 120 mph. Sadly, most motorcycle accidents are the result of speeding. To keep motorcycle operators and everybody else on the road safe, manufacturers should limit top speeds to 80 or 90 mph for all production motorcycles. This will ensure that reckless drivers can’t use public roads as race tracks and still allow them to easily go with the flow on freeways. For those who want faster bikes, a fee could be paid to the state for every new acquisition.
Create Motorcycle Lanes
Many motorcyclists like to weave through traffic, frequently changing lanes. This behavior is risky, dangerous, and potentially life threatening. A large proportion of motorcycle accidents occur when a motorcycle collides with a passenger vehicle such as a sedan, SUV, truck, or mini-van. In order to reduce the mingling between the two types of vehicles, it may be a good idea to create motorcycle lanes in certain areas.
Like bicycle lanes, motorcycle lanes can be made narrower than a standard lane and placed furthest to the right of the street. Since creating new lanes for motorcycles can be costly, it might be cost efficient to designate the far right lane in specific areas for motorcycles only.
Impose Stricter Laws for Operation of a Motorcycle
Since motorcycles are more difficult to drive than a standard car, operators will be safer on the road with increased mandatory training. Requiring more supervised road-work for the acquisition of a motorcycle license, or additional written and road testing at regular intervals of every six months or so, will ensure that there are more competent drivers on the road.
A motorcycle driver who knows the laws, practices frequently, and knows how to operate his vehicle is generally a safer one. Also, there should be a federal law requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets or be heavily fined. It might not be a bad idea to require riders to wear motorcycle jackets as well.
Implement Harsher Penalties for Breaking Motorcycle Laws
To make sure that motorcycle operators are abiding by the rules of the road, fines should be increased and there should imprisonment or the revoking of the motorcycle license for repeat offenders. For the most serious repeat offenders, motorcycles could be seized, as well.
Even though slower bikes, motorcycle lanes, stricter laws, and more serious penalties won’t prevent accidents or fatalities, they will surely lower them. These tactics would make everyone on the road, not just motorcyclists, safer.
When laws are not followed by other drivers, motorcyclists can get serious injuries or even die. An attorney specializing in brain injuries, as well as other serious injuries, can help represent the cause of motorcyclists and bring justice to their cases.
Mar 8, 2013 Tips, Uncategorized
Drunk driving is a serious problem. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2011 over 9,000 people were killed in drunk driving accidents. With that many fatalities every year, it’s easy to see why many are recommending ignition interlock devices installed in every car.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock is a device that stops a car from starting unless certain conditions are met. In this case, the device includes a breathalyzer. In order to start the car, the driver must take a breathalyzer test. If their blood alcohol level is too high according to the test, the car won’t start. What’s more, if too many attempts are made and failed, the car will be locked out.
These devices are clearly designed to prevent people who would drink and drive from endangering themselves and others. If impaired individuals are kept from starting their cars, they certainly can’t cause accidents, hurting themselves or others.
When it comes to drunk driving there are two components – the perpetrator and the weapon. Removing the perpetrator’s ability to wield the weapon removes their ability to harm someone. In this case, the weapon is the car. If someone has been drinking, he or she should not be allowed to drive.
Many people don’t think they are drunk when, in fact, they are well over the legal limit. People who overestimate their ability to handle alcohol are often at fault in alcohol-related fatalities. Laws alone do not prevent these people from driving after drinking, so something more drastic is needed.
Breathalyzer interlocks are proven effective. Many are ordered by courts when a person is found to be a repeat drunken driving offender. The problem is how easy it is to access another vehicle.
Mechanically, ignition interlocks take a significant amount of time to start the vehicle. What happens if the vehicle stalls in traffic? The extra time delay causes a hazard for other drivers. This could lead to injuries, road rage, and other dangerous situations.
Then there are those who have respiratory ailments. Drivers who suffer from lung infections and asthma may have a hard time using the breathalyzer every time they want to start their car. Eventually the added stress could cause injuries or death to people who are completely innocent of driving while intoxicated.
Critics argue that forcing every driver to take a breath test before starting their car is an invasion of privacy. While it could prevent thousands of fatalities and injuries each year, it is also a significant hassle for those who do not drink and drive, or those who do not drink at all.
Advocates of ignition interlocks suggest that every vehicle should have an interlock installed. This sort of preventive measure would stop drunk driving almost entirely, but would be a significant expense. Interlocks currently ordered by courts are paid for by the offender, at a cost of approximately $200. Many people, particularly those who don’t drink and drive, believe the cost is unnecessary and invasive.
Studies suggest that, while drunk driving was greatly reduced when interlocks are installed, crashes are not. In fact, vehicles with interlocks are more likely to crash than when the interlock is removed. Part of this is due to rolling retests, or breath tests taking place while the vehicle is moving.
Whether or not breathalyzer interlock devices become widespread is a matter for the courts in coming years. They are proven to reduce drunk driving by a wide margin, but they only work while installed – they do not form good habits. A more permanent solution is needed to solve the drunken driving problem completely.
In the meantime, a certified attorney such as the ones from bayareaduilaw.com can help resolve any DUI case that comes up. An experienced attorney can bring a satisfactory conclusion for all involved.
Feb 1, 2013 Tips
The appearance of legitimacy is easy to create by con-men and women to perpetrate investment fraud. Slick brochures, websites and high tech office space with receptionists can all be organized to make an impression, and in the case of fraud, a wrong impression. The FBI says that $40 billion is lost every year to securities and commodities fraud. Here are some tips investors can use to avoid losing their money to fraud.
Investment Fraud Appears in many Forms
Con artists can appear in many guises including a wealthy looking business person, a friend of a friend and an authority on investments on the Internet. Con artists may use the telephone, mail or email to reach investors as well as advertise in reputable publications. A con artist could be introduced to an investor by a trusted, well know person who is himself duped.
How to Detect Investment Fraud
People should be wary of unsolicited investment offers that come over the phone, by email, in letters or through personal visits. If the broker tells the investor that they are one of a few lucky people chosen for this investment, it should be avoided. If brokers say they have secret, inside information that the general public cannot see, the investment could be a fraud or worse, illegal.
If the person offering the investment guarantees profits with almost no risk, it is most probably a fraud. There is always some risk, and the broker should discuss it with the investor. Also, any person who offers high return in a short time should be avoided. This is the bait to catch investors.
A broker who wants an investor to put their investment in the name of a custodian, a pool of other investors or is offering investments from overseas should be avoided.
Investors should not consider an investment that required them to put their life savings into a single investment or to take out a loan and go into debt to make an investment.
Things to do to avoid Fraudulent Investments
There are several things an investor can do to avoid being tricked by a con artist. Investors can ask the broker as many questions as possible about the investment. The broker may become nervous or avoid answering some of the questions. Ask for a telephone number for the broker and for print information about the investment. If the brochure is high quality but doesn’t give pertinent information, the investment is most likely fraudulent. Investors can also look in newsletters that are touting specific investments for who pays the investments, the amount paid and the type of payment for promoting the investment. This information should be easy to see and not buried in fine print in the back of the newsletter.
Investors should always do independent research online, and if there is not enough information, avoid the investment. They should base investing decisions on facts, not on emotions. Con artists will try to make investors feel greedy or fearful for their financial future, so they will make a decision based on emotion, not facts. Investment fraud is a serious occurrence, and if you feel that you are a victim, you may want to consider legal help.
Jan 9, 2013 Tips
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician or medical company who is responsible for your health and well-being makes an error in diagnosis, performs a procedure without your permission or otherwise jeopardizes your physical, mental, emotional or financial well-being, therefore violating your rights as a patient. It can be an extremely traumatic occurrence with far reaching medical, financial and emotional consequences. Unfortunately, medical malpractice is more common than most people would like to believe. In some cases, the patient who was victimized does not live to tell their story—it is the family that they leave behind who are left fighting for their legal and financial rights while struggling with the loss of someone they love.
Every year, as many as 98,000 people die as a result of medical malpractice. Unnecessary surgery is a huge component of medical malpractice deaths; according to The New York Times, an estimated “5,000 deaths could be avoided each year if all doctors used the most conservative indications for doing prostate surgery [alone]”. Often, an individual professional or hospital will attempt to forge an out of court settlement with an injured party or the family of a deceased victim of medical malpractice.
Plaintiffs are generally far more likely to benefit financially from an out of court settlement for a medical malpractice suit than they are to benefit from going through with a court case. One reason for this is that medical malpractice cases can be difficult to try. It must be absolutely evident that malpractice is liable for an injury or death. Some situations involve blatant errors in judgment on the part of the doctor or surgeon in question, such as a surgery that was performed on the wrong side of the body or, shockingly, a procedure that was entirely unnecessary and was performed on the wrong patient. However, the majority of medical malpractice cases are much lower risk and less dramatic. They often relate to undiagnosed conditions, errors in the dosing of prescriptions and other small mistakes that may still have big consequences. When a patient or their family brings charges against a doctor for mistakes like these, they must be able to irrefutably prove that the doctor takes primary fault for pain, suffering, delayed treatment or death.
Legal Assistance from a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Because medical malpractice cases are so important and so difficult to try, it is absolutely necessary that someone attempting to take a medical malpractice suit to court retain a lawyer who has specialized in medical malpractice. A trained and competent lawyer will know the ins and outs of medical law and with the input of the patient or their family members, will be able to construct a case that will stand up in court. Needless to say, doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals often have lawyers on retainer as a condition of their employment who are also experts in medical law. If you or a loved one have experienced pain, suffering or mistreatment at the hands of a medical professional, it is in your best interest to retain a lawyer who is an expert in medical law as soon as possible so that you can begin documenting your case.
Jan 6, 2013 Tips
Although many motorcycle accident victims are able to secure much-needed financial compensation from the party responsible for their accident with the help of a motorcycle accident lawyer, it would certainly be best if accidents and injuries could be avoided altogether, eliminating the need for taking legal action against a negligent or reckless party.
Unfortunately, it is likely that some motorists will always be irresponsible and pose a threat to those around them on the road, making it impossible for motorcyclists to ever be able to completely avoid the threat of an accident. However, there are things that motorcyclists can do to prevent or limit the severity of injuries they experience if they happen to be involved in an accident.
The greatest single thing that a motorcyclist can do to keep him or herself safe is to invest in and use the proper motorcycle safety equipment. Undoubtedly, the most valuable piece of safety equipment a motorcyclist can use is a reliable, high-quality helmet. The head and brain are incredibly vulnerable in the event of a motorcycle accident, and without the proper protective wear, accident victims could quickly find themselves facing devastating injuries, long-term disability, or even death.
Additionally, it is important for a motorcycle rider to cover up the rest of his or her body with thick, durable material, including closed toed shoes or boots, long pants, and a thick, long-sleeved shirt or jacket. By making sure that exposed skin is properly covered, motorcycle accident victims may be able to avoid devastating and painful injuries, such as road rash, that can occur in an accident.
While a motorcycle rider may not be able to prevent another party from causing an accident, they do have control over how they safeguard themselves in case an accident does occur.
Dec 27, 2012 Uncategorized
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a topic that is frequently discussed, but a lot of people do not seem to have a good handle on what exactly it means. Consider for example how many times you have heard an off-color joke in your office over the past year. Although most people do not get offended by jokes of a sexual nature, many HR employees will tell you that making these jokes can cause you to be fired for sexual harassment. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that you are always aware of the people who are within earshot before you speak, and you should also be cognizant of never saying or doing anything that can be construed as harassment.
How Common is Sexual Harassment?
It is impossible to know how many people deal with sexual harassment at work on an annual basis because so many people fail to report it. There have been studies done that indicate up to 90 percent of women will be harassed at least once during their career. The extent of this harassment can range from a woman hearing a joke that she does not like all the way to another co-worker forcing themselves on her. It is important to note that sexual harassment can happen to employees of either gender, though, and everyone should follow their employer’s anti-sexual harassment policy. In other words, women also need to be aware of their actions in the workplace, and they should not assume that all men will be okay with flirtatiousness or behavior that can be labeled as harassment.
What is the Impact of Sexual Harassment?
People who deal with sexual harassment at work can exhibit a wide range of side effects, including depression, anxiety, reduced work performance and increased absenteeism. Unfortunately, a lot of victims of sexual harassment will keep the issue to themselves, and this will cause them to be terminated when their work performance stops meeting the company’s standards. In order to stop this downward spiral, it is vital for the person who is being harassed to discuss the issue with their direct supervisor. If their supervisor is the problem, however, they should go over their head to the next person in charge. Keep in mind that failure to report sexual harassment can actually backfire on you legally in the long run. It is also necessary for you to tell the person who is harassing you that you are not interested in them.
How to Prevent Sexual Harassment
The best way to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace is to have a zero tolerance policy and to actively encourage employees to speak out if they experience any issues. By letting your employees know that you support their right to work in a safe, harassment free environment, you will enable them to feel safe enough to report an issue if it does happen. It is also necessary to conduct a thorough investigation into any sexual harassment claims and to take corrective action if you determine that the harassment did occur.
Dealing with Sexual Harassment
If your employer does not provide you with protection from sexual harassment, you might end up needing to file a lawsuit. Before you begin legal proceedings, make sure that you hire a lawyer who specializes in employment law dealing with workplace sexual harassment cases. Remember that it is important to expose individuals who habitually harass people in order to protect other employees from dealing with the same issue in the future.
Dec 19, 2012 Tips, Uncategorized
On September 5, 2012, the Huffington Post reported that actor James Franco was being sued by his former professor for defamation. After receiving a D letter grade in his course, Franco told the press that former NYU professor Jose Angel Santana was an “awful” teacher. Santana blames his subsequent firing from the university on Franco’s statement and is suing for damages. From the outside looking in, this short sequence of events might lead one to believe that Franco is in fact responsible for Santana’s firing. However, determining whether or not defamation actually occurred requires a bit more scrutiny.
What is Defamation?
ExpertLaw.com defines defamation as the issuance of a false statement about another person that causes the person to suffer harm. Defamation is broken down further into two categories: libel and slander. Libel is defined as any false statement in written form. Slander is defined as a false statement that is spoken.
The key element that defines defamation lies in the presentation of the statement. On their own, false statements do not necessarily constitute the act of defamation. However, false statements that are presented as facts do fall into the defamation category.
What is NOT Considered Defamation?
Defamation is not the presentation of false or damaging information. It is the presentation of false information intentionally or recklessly presented as facts. Therefore, this definition does not apply if the information presented is true. Although some statements may damage a person’s reputation, speakers and reporters cannot be held liable for reporting factual information that caused those damages.
In most cases, statements of opinion are not considered defamation. While many opinion statements are highly publicized, they are not necessarily intended to be considered true or false. Regardless of their effects, there is no real way to prove that false statements are intentionally disguised as opinions. Without proof of intent, the charge of defamation falls flat.
Proving and Disproving Defamation in a Lawsuit
In a lawsuit, the burden of proof always fall on the person who filed the suit- the plaintiff. The plaintiff must provide evidence indicating that the defendant knowingly or recklessly presented false information to the public. In some situations, plaintiffs can attempt to prove negligence if an opinion was presented by someone of high regard. In these situations, plaintiffs must be able to provide evidence that supports that claim.
Defendants can beat a defamation charge by providing evidence that backs up their statements. Defendants can also claim their statements were based in opinion and not meant to be considered facts. As stated previously, opinions presented by reputable sources are taken more seriously than those presented by those with low credibility. Therefore, another available alternative is to question one’s own credibility as a source.
The James Franco case is a great example of a flawed defamation lawsuit. According the Huffington Post on November 28, 2012, NYU dismissed Santana’s lawsuit. Although the university did fire Santana, it claims that Franco’s opinion was not a determining factor in his termination. While the former professor believes that Franco’s words slandered his name, most people did not take them as anything other than his personal opinion. Defamation occurs when false information is presented as a fact and results in harm. Cases like these demonstrate that one without the other establishes nothing.
Mario Sanchez knows that false associations can seriously effect your life. If falsely accused of something. be sure to seek help from a federal defense lawyer to clear your name.
Dec 4, 2012 Tips
Getting a business off the ground is a daunting prospect. As a new business owner, you’ll need to identify a market, target audience and implementation strategy. You’ll also need to pull off numerous small feats like finding a suitable work space or retail outlet and securing enough funding to support your operation until it begins to generate revenue. In the midst of all this, you’ll need to navigate a tricky minefield of legal and tax issues that could have devastating consequences for your new business.
You’ll need to incorporate your business in one form or another. There are numerous factors that should go into your ultimate choice of organizational type. If you’re a first-time business owner, it may be simplest to incorporate in a manner that limits your tax liability and increases your take-home profits. Since the performance of a given organizational type is generally situation-based, there is no single “best fit” strategy for minimizing your tax liability.
As a business owner, you can choose either to have your profits taxed as regular personal income or as “business income.” Your preference will dictate your organizational type.
If you would prefer to pay taxes on your business’s income as an individual, you can incorporate as a C-corporation, S-corporation or partnership. C-corporations are typically sole-proprietor arrangements while S-corporations usually have fewer than 50 employees. Partnerships are typically quite small as well. Collectively, these organizational types are known as “pass-through entities” because their taxable income “passes through” to their owners or shareholders.
Other methods of incorporation will shield you from personal tax liability. Depending upon the size and long-term goals of your business, you can incorporate as a traditional corporation or limited-liability corporation. In both cases, your organization’s profits will be taxed before they pass on to you as income. Depending upon the number of tax advantages that you’re able to claim as a business owner, this may reduce your effective income tax burden by a significant margin.
If you plan on keeping your business relatively small for the foreseeable future, you may wish to incorporate as a limited-liability corporation. This will also shield you from personal liability for disputes and incidents that arise during the course of your business’s operations. As the owner of an LLC, your personal assets typically won’t be at risk for seizure in the event of a judgment or settlement against you.
You’ll need to consider how the laws of the state in which you incorporate will affect your business practices as well as your legal and tax liabilities. Each state maintains different tax rates as well as ongoing licensing fees and other levies that may increase your business’s financial liabilities. In addition, the regulations to which your business is subject may vary depending upon where you’re based. Activities that are permissible in one state might be outlawed in another. If your business has more than 50 full-time employees, remember that recent changes to federal law obligate you to provide health insurance coverage to all of your full-time workers regardless of where your business is based.
If your business is mobile, consider incorporating in a “business-friendly” state with low taxes and relatively few regulations. For instance, Texas and North Carolina are commonly cited as business-friendly jurisdictions. If you wish to maintain tight control over your business as it expands, consider incorporating in either Delaware or Nevada. Both of these states have relatively lax regulatory burdens as well as owner-friendly laws that lessen the influence of minority shareholders. Most of the country’s businesses are incorporated in these two states. Keep in mind that you don’t have to move your home office in order to change your state of incorporation.
Although this listing of the general legal and tax issues involved in business incorporation should prove useful, it’s not exclusive. Before you make significant investments of time and money in incorporating and building your own business, research any legal issues that may be pertinent to the industry in which you plan to operate. Since these typically vary by jurisdiction, you should consult a local commercial attorney or business development organization to learn more about your business’s relationship with the law.
Jon Kolby knows that starting out your own business can be a daunting task. A Washington DC Business Attorney can help with the obstacles that face new and old business owners alike.