Zantac Cancer Claim Information

ZANTAC CANCER CLAIM INFORMATION.

On September 13, 2019 the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning concerning Zantac and other similar ranitidine medicines (generics). The FDA reports that some ranitidine medicines, including some products commonly known as the brand-name drug Zantac®, contain a nitrosamine impurity called nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

NDMA (the contaminant identified in Zantac) is classified as a probable human carcinogen which means that it is more likely than not to cause cancer in humans. Recent studies have raised the specter of an association between NDMA and liver toxicity which can lead to the development of liver cancer and other related conditions brought about by an NDMA-induced “insult” to the liver.

Cancers that are linked to NDMA exposure include: Liver Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Intestinal Cancer, Colon Cancer, Stomach Cancer and Kidney Cancer (Renal Cancer). Other possibly related cancers include: Lung Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Testicular Cancer and Esophageal Cancer. 

BRW Injury Lawyers are investigating these claims. If you or a loved one developed any of the above cancers after using Zantac (or other ranitidine medication) for a few months, you may have a claim. For more information call BRW Injury Lawyers at 251 433-7766 or email BRW: web_inquiry@brwlawyers.com    Please share this important information.

ZANTAC is a registered trademark of Warner-Lambert Company, used under license. In the United States, 75- and 150-mg tablets are available OTC. Zantac OTC is manufactured by Sanofi Consumer Healthcare.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). Statement in compliance with Florida Bar Advertising Rules: “The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. [Florida Rule 4-7.2(d)]. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

Reasons Life Insurance Claims Are Denied & What to do Next.

There are several reasons why life insurance claims can be denied. Knowing those reasons and how to appeal or challenge a denial of benefits can be critical for families in their time of need. The following information from Life Insurance Claims Specialist and may be helpful to you or a family member. Mark’s Number One Rule: Do Not Try to Handle the Denial of Benefits on Your Own! (See the last section of this article for important information.) For a free consultation please email your life insurance benefit questions to Mark Wolfe at mark@bfw-lawyers.com. Please put Life Insurance Question in the subject line. Or call him at 251 410-7761.

_____________________

I have been helping families and clients for many years with legal issues related to life insurance benefits. Most specifically with contesting or challenging the denial of life insurance benefits. Some times a lawsuit is required to secure benefits and some times the benefits can be recovered through a pre-litigation request for reconsideration. If you’ve been the victim of denied life insurance benefits, I think the most important thing is for you to fully understand why the benefits were denied and how you may contest or challenge the denial of benefits. What follows are the most common reasons life insurance benefits are denied with some general legal information about the basis for the denial.

1. DEATH OCCURS DURING THE CONTESTABILITY PERIOD.

Most life insurance policies have a contestability period. This is a period of time, usually two years, after the policy has been issued where the insurance company can take a look back at the application and conduct an investigation to make sure all “relevant and material information” was disclosed on the application. This is sometimes called “retroactive underwriting” and is most likely to apply to policies with no formal medical examination before the policy is issued.  An example of this type of denial would be if the applicant says his or her weight is 300 lbs but then the insurance company finds medical records right before the application was submitted showing the applicant’s weight to have been 325 lbs. If this weight is higher than the underwriting guidelines for the policy, then the company may deny the claim and refund the premiums claiming had they known of the higher weight, they would not have issued the policy. Even a minor undisclosed medical condition on the application such as high blood pressure can be deemed a material misrepresentation and be grounds for denial. In general, the undisclosed information does not have to be a contributing factor to the death to support a denial of benefits and it does not have to have been an intentional misrepresentation. Simply forgetting to disclose material information or even an inadvertent mistake can be enough to support the denial of benefits.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Insurance rules and regulations vary greatly from State to State and some life insurance policies are even governed or controlled by Federal law. The legal definition as to what is or is not “relevant and material information” on an application can be different from State to State. Before accepting the denial of benefits and cashing the premium refund check, consider consulting with a Life Insurance Claims Specialist or an experienced Attorney to have the denial of benefits reviewed. Also, even if you have cashed he premium refund check, some State laws will still allow you to contest the denial of benefits.

2. DECEIT OR FRAUD.

This covers a number of different situations and may extend past the contestability period. This basis for denial covers more than an inadvertent mistake on the application such as mistakenly putting the wrong weight. It would apply to situations were the intent of the applicant was intentionally misleading or deceitful. For example a person is diagnosed with terminal cancer and then buys a life insurance policy and intentionally and knowingly does not disclose the cancer diagnosis.  Even if the death occurs outside the contestability period, the insurance company may deny the benefits claiming the policy was secured by the fraudulent suppression of material information. This can also apply to beneficiaries if they secure a policy for a loved one under fraudulent or unscrupulous circumstances.

3. THE CAUSE OF DEATH IS EXCLUDED OR
NOT COVERED UNDER THE POLICY.

Most life insurance policies exclude coverage for suicide. However, some policies only exclude suicide during the contestability period. Some life insurance policies exclude benefits if the death occurs “related to or while engaged in a dangerous activity” such as scuba diving or sky diving. Accidental Death (AD) benefit policies often exclude coverage if the accidental death is contributed to by any number of conditions or even pre-existing conditions.  A very common exclusion under AD policies or clauses is if the decedent was intoxicated at the time of death.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Exclusion clauses in life insurance policies can be legally and/or medically difficult for the insurance company to prove; however, they will often send the beneficiaries a denial of benefit letter referencing complex medical and/or legal terminology. Even if you think the exclusion sounds legitimate, you should have the denial of benefits reviewed by a Life Insurance Claims Specialist or an experienced Attorney.

4. PREMIUM PAYMENTS WERE NOT MADE.

When premium payments are not made in accordance with the terms of the policy the policy lapses and no benefits are owed. Some policies have a short grace period for late payments. Some policies have reinstatement provisions that allow for past due premiums to be paid and the policy to be “reinstated;” however, the reinstatement provisions often require a new reinstatement application and establish a new contestability period. Some times the “reinstated” policy is basically a new policy with new exclusions and conditions. One of the most common causes for non-payment of premiums is when an automatic payment withdraw is not increased periodically as premiums increase. For example, person takes out a Universal or Whole Life policy that builds cash value over time. The policy has a 10 year level premium and for the first 10 years the premium is paid timely via an automatic withdraw from a bank account. After 10 years the premium for the policy increases but the automatic payment remains the same. The accumulated cash value is then used to make up the premium difference until it is used up. Once the cash value is depleted the policy will lapse for non-payment of premiums.  Unfortunately, many Universal and Whole Life Insurance policies were sold with the representation that the cash value would accumulate at such a high rate that the premiums would always be covered or even diminish or go way at some point in the future. This has led many people, especially elderly people, to inadvertently disregard notices and information from the insurance company about premium increases and/or premium payments made via the accumulated cash value of their policy.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: There have been several class action lawsuits against insurance companies for misrepresenting or misleading consumers about the viability and achievability of “diminishing premiums” or “vanishing premiums.” You can Google those terms and the Company to see if you may be a class member or have any rights under a related class action settlement.

5. DISPUTE AS TO BENEFICIARIES.

While not necessarily a denial of benefits, a life insurance company may delay the payment of benefits if there is a dispute as to the beneficiaries under a life insurance policy. In some cases, the life insurance company may require a legal determination as to who is entitled to the benefits. As a simple rule of thumb, life insurance benefits are paid to the named beneficiary of record. This could be the person or persons identified on the application or someone identified on a legitimate change of beneficiary form on record with the company. However, issues can arise if a former beneficiary challenges the legitimacy of a change of beneficiary form. Also, if there are no contingent beneficiaries listed and the primary beneficiary is deceased, then legal action may be required to determine who is entitled to the life insurance benefits. Finally, some States have provisions that automatically remove a named spouse as beneficiary upon divorce.

DO NOT TRY TO HANDLE THE DENIAL OF BENEFITS ON YOUR OWN! 

Life insurance policies are complex legal documents that contain lots of defined terms and conditions. How those terms and conditions stand up against the laws and regulations of your State requires knowledge and expertise. Many policies have guidelines and rules for how to appeal the denial of benefits but those may or may not be binding or required. However, some life insurance policies are subject to Federal laws and regulations which require strict adherence to procedures for how appeals must be presented. In those situations, failure to properly file the appeal can prevent any further legal action to obtain benefits. Some times the denial of benefits is blatantly wrong and may entitle the victim to additional compensation over and above the policy benefit amount. If you are the victim of denied life insurance benefits, in the very least you should consult with a Life Insurance Claims Specialist or an experienced Attorney as soon as you are notified that the benefits are denied and before responding or appealing the denial of benefits. He or she should be able to give you an overview of your rights and explain the legal issues you are facing and provide you with a strategy to try and recover the benefits.

About the author: is a licensed and practicing attorney in the State of Alabama. Through his law firm he has handled denied life insurance cases in Alabama and Mississippi. He has also been a consultant on life insurance claims and cases in other States where he works with local attorneys to help secure life insurance benefits for clients and customers. He has helped families recover over one million dollars in denied life insurance benefits with the average policy value being $50,000.00. Mark provides free consultations for people who have questions about life insurance policies or benefits. Please email your life insurance benefit questions to Mark Wolfe at mark@bfw-lawyers.com for a free consultation. Please put Life Insurance Question in the subject line. Or call him at 251 410-7761.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

What to Do When You Win the Lottery!

CONGRATULATIONS! I know it’s hard to believe that you’ve actually won the lottery and I hope your hands are still shaking from excitement as you read this! Now, let’s take a deep breath and review some basic strategies before you do something you might forever regret! Such as telling your dim-wit, debt laden Bro-in-Law about your good fortune.

#1. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! There are some very important things you should do and consider before telling the world that you’re now a financial peer with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

#2. ENDORSE & SECURE YOUR WINNING TICKET. Lottery tickets are considered a presentation instrument. So if you lose it without having endorsed it, you may be SOL! Leave room on the endorsement section because you may have to add another entity (see Rule 5). Photograph/photo copy the endorsed winning ticket and then promptly put it in a fire proof safe or safe deposit box. [Also, don’t forget Rule 1, or your neighbor who never returned the rake he borrowed will be on your front door step graciously returning your rake AND now requesting to “borrow” some cash.]  

#3. FIND OUT HOW LONG YOU HAVE TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE & WHETHER IT CAN BE CLAIMED ANONYMOUSLY. There are deadlines ranging from three months to a year to claim your prize. Find out asap how much time you have to get your affairs in order before claiming the winnings.  Some States allow you to claim a prize anonymously but many require public disclosure. Also, some Lottery Rules require winners to appear at press conferences and participate in public events or announcements. [Are you still good with Rule 1? Because if not, here come all of your co-workers and their tales of financial woes.]

#4 CHANGE YOUR PHONE NUMBER. On the off chance you’ve disregarded Rule 1 but even if you have not, it’s still a good idea because sooner or later your loser Bro-in-Law is going to find out about your winnings and he has some “really boss ideas” on how to invest your money for you!  

#5. GET LEGAL ADVICE ASAP. Now you can finally tell someone about your new found wealth! The attorney-client privilege will prevent your lawyer from disclosing that you are client and/or the nature and extent of his or her representation. If you want to remain anonymous a lawyer can help you determine if the funds can be claimed by an innocuous charity or foundation that you establish and/or maybe negotiate for your privacy with the Lottery. Some lotteries will allow you to remain anonymous but you have to give up some of the winnings to do so. Even if you can’t remain anonymous a lawyer can tell you how to set up various entities to help shelter and protect your winnings from the vultures. A lawyer can also work with a tax advisor and financial consultant to help establish short term and long term priorities for your wealth.
#6.  MAKE YOUR LAWYER THE “BAD GUY.” Sooner or later, it’s likely your family, friends and co-workers will learn of your lottery good fortune. Also, there’s a good chance you’ll be contacted by legitimate and illegitimate strangers seeking financial assistance. Instead of you having to be the bad guy saying “no,” just tell them the lawyer has everything tied up in long term CITs…Charitable Investment Trusts and he or she is responsible for managing your money and all inquires for funds should go through him or her. You can let your lawyer know who you want to help and to what extent and let him or her make the delivery. 
Again Congratulations on winning the Lottery. Understand, your financial good fortune will bring a side effect of stress and concern.  Following these simple guidelines will help reduce that stress and enable you to enjoy your winnings to the fullest. 

Top Personal Injury Firm Opens Law Office in Foley, AL

One of Alabama’s most experienced auto-crash personal injury law firms has now opened an office in Foley, Alabama. The law firm of Boteler, Finley & Wolfe has been helping car crash victims with insurance claims for over 30 years. The senior partner in the firm, Mark Wolfe, has helped thousands of victims and their families recover compensation for their car crash injuries. In addition he has written numerous consumer publications for personal injury victims and he has taught CLE courses for attorneys on how to prepare and prosecute auto-crash injury claims. The attorneys at Boteler, Finley & Wolfe are all top-rated attorneys by peer review rating services such as AVVO.com.  They are the only dedicated injury law firm with an office in the Foley area. The new office address is 820 N. Alston Avenue, Suite B and free consultations are available by appointment only through the Mobile, AL office: 251 433-7766 or by rmail to Mark Wolfe, mark@bfw-lawyers.com 

Personal Injury Claims: What Are “Value Drivers?”

Today most major auto-crash insurane companies use some form of Computer Assisted Claim Evaluation Program to help them establish a “value” for a personal injury claim. These programs evaluate data about the injury claim and then provide the adjuster with a value or compensation amount they should pay the victim. Depending on the company, adjusters may have to strictly follow the evaluation or they may be able to offer more than the program’s “evaluation.”

Central to all of these programs are value-drivers. These are certain facts or factors that are input into the program. A value-driver can be either positive or negative. Meaning they can either increase the amount of compensation the victim receives or reduce the amount of compensation the victim receives. These programs can evaluate thousands of different value drivers. Even for a simple auto-crash injury claim there can be over 100 value drivers analyzed by these programs.

Obviously the diagnosis code for an injury is an important value driver but so are the treatment codes as well as the timing of the treatment. The “value” of a diagnosis code may also depend on what type of doctor made the diagnosis. A delay in care or a gap in treatment can be a negative value driver as well as inconsistent pain complaints in the medical records. Many times these negative value drivers can be limited or overridden by the adjuster but he or she has strict criteria or guidelines on what documewnts and/or facts must be presented to limit the negative value driver.

If you have a serious injury claim from a car crash, you need a law firm that understands Computer Assisted Claim Evaluation programs and knows how to properly document all of the positive value drivers and limit the negative value drivers. At Boteler, Finley & Wolfe we’ve been helping car crash victims present and prosecute their insurance claims for over 30 years. We know and understand Computer Assisted Claim Evaluation Programs better than most attorneys. We can help you. Give us a call today: 251 433-7766 or email Mark Wolfe at mark@bfw-lawyers today for a free consultation.

Reading the Fine Print on Lawyer TV Ads

Recently there have been numerous TV commercials for lawyers where someone brags about how much money the lawyer recovered for them. These people generally appear fine and gush about what a financial windfall the lawyer got them for their injury claim. The problem is the fine print disclaimers that accompany many of these commercials scroll across the screen so quickly, or are so small, you can’t read them. Many people don’t even see them let alone read them. Here’s a compilation of some of these disclaimers from some recent TV lawyer ads:

– Not an actual client testimonial or based upon a specific case.

– Dramatization: Not an actual case.

– Actor portrayal, not a real client.

– The monetary result referenced is not from an actual case.

– The monetary recoveries referenced are not typical of most injury claims and [law firm name omitted] in no way guarantees or promises similar results for specific injury claims.

–  Not a typical injury case recovery.

–  (Lawyer name omitted) will not be the lawyer responsible handling your claim or case and the financial recoveries referenced herein are generalizations of atypical injury cases. No warranty or     guarantee of a specific monetary result is made herein.

–  Not a real client or case result.

–  Not an actual case result or recovery. [Law firm name omitted] processes claims and cases via a referral to an affiliate law firm. Referral law firms are solely responsible for claim and case presentation and remit a portion of the attorney fees to [law firm name omitted.]

–  Actor and/or spokesperson is compensated for services and any reference to financial recoveries  are of non-typical personal injury matters.

–  Actual results may vary. Not licensed to practice law in Alabama.

Legal? Maybe. But doesn’t this smell of deception? A commercial runs with a “client” boasting of a huge financial recovery but hidden in the commercial is one of the above fine print disclaimers stating the results are not true or not typical.  Seems like the old bait and switch sales tactics used by shady salesmen of days gone by.  Trust between an attorney and his or her client is critical to a good relationship. Clients must rely on and trust their attorney to help them through a difficult time. If the initial basis for that relationship is based upon a deceptive TV ad, can the client really be confident that the attorney has the client’s best interest at heart?

So how else besides TV can you find an attorney? AVVO.com is an excellent attorney rating service that has lots of information about local attorneys and rates attorneys on a scale of 1-10. There’s also biographical information about the attorney, client reviews and professional achievements. Also, most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations so you can consult with more than one attorney before deciding what attorney you are most comfortable with.

It’s the Adjuster’s Job Not to Believe You!

Having represented insurance claimants for over 30 years, I have received hundreds of calls from people who are upset because, “the adjuster just does not seem like he believes me.” They are angry and frustrated with the adjuster and feel they are being singled-out when they are simply “telling the truth.” Guess what? It’s the insurance adjuster’s job not to believe you! It’s not that they are necessarily being mean or picking on you, they are simply following the law and they are trained to be skeptical about most claims.

The law requires insurance claimants to prove their claim. It’s not the insurance adjuster’s job to help you prove your claim nor do they have to “disprove” your assertion, but rather you have to prove all elements of your claim. Let’s take a look at a common claim related to a personal injury claim: lost wages. According the Center for Disease Control (CDC) it is common for someone to miss about two weeks of work for a simple cervical strain suffered in a car accident. You cannot expect to receive compensation for your lost wages by simply telling the adjuster, “I missed two weeks of work and I make $17.50 per hour.” The adjuster is going to require you to produce documentation supporting your wage rate such as a pay stub or a note from your employer. The adjuster will also require you to produce a doctor’s excuse or a medical notation in the records that the time off of work was in fact required because of the injuries you suffered in the accident. They are simply making you prove the validity of your claim. That’s their job!

“But Mr. Wolfe, I’m not like those people who fake a claim or exaggerate an injury to get money they don’t deserve,” is another common statement I hear. Yes that may be true, but adjusters deal with lots of opportunistic fraud claims every day. In my opinion, this has desensitized them to legitimate claims and makes them very skeptical about all claims. This means not only must legitimate claimants meet the legal burden of proof for their claim, they also must overcome the “burden of doubt.” Claims adjusters have been trained to look for certain “red flags” signaling a potential opportunistic fraud claim. The problem is some of the “red flags” are so broad or discretionary they can get attached to a legitimate claim. Claimants are often given a veracity or truthfulness rating. This rating can have a negative or positive impact on the benefit determination for the claim. Yet most claimants, and surprisingly many personal injury attorneys, have no idea how the claimants perceived truthfulness can impact the benefits the insurance company is willing to pay. There are things that can be done to help emphasize the truthfulness of a claimant or overcome a “red flag” that may be associated with a claim. But again, the adjuster’s job is to be skeptical about a claim.

Meeting the “burden of proof” and overcoming the “burden of doubt” can make the claim process seem unfair and frustrating. While not every insurance claim requires or needs a lawyer, all claimants should know their rights and understand the claim process. Our office provides free consultations to personal injury claimants and other insurance claimants. We also have numerous publications available to help claimants. These can be downloaded at no charge from our web site: http://www.bfw-lawyers.com/publications/

What Should I Know About Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney?

[ Written by: Mark Wolfe, Attorney at Law. The following information is provided as general advice and without charge. Questions about specific issues or situations should be directed to an experienced personal injury attorney. A portion of the following article is reprinted, with permission, from the Summer 2004 edition of Legally Speaking. NOTE: The following material is protected by all applicable State and Federal Copyright laws. Published August 2017.]

As more and more lawyers and law firms utilize TV commercials, billboards and internet ads to attract clients, it is important for consumers to know how to select an attorney that is right for their case. Flashy TV commercials and catchy slogans promising large monetary settlements may be enticing, but the consumer who needs to hire a personal injury attorney should consider and discuss three key areas before hiring a personal injury attorney. These areas are: 1) the fee for services, 2) the attorney’s experience and knowledge with similar cases, and 3) the resources the attorney has for your claim or case.

CONTINGENCY FEES

Most people now know that attorneys who represent personal injury victims do so under a contingency fee contract. (The attorney fee is a percentage of the money recovered by the attorney.) Yet the percentage or contingency amount can vary greatly between lawyers. Also, the consumer should know exactly how the contingency fee is going to be calculated. When discussing attorney fees and representation costs, there are two areas for inquiry by the consumer. The actual fee amount to be charged and how the expenses related to the claim or case will be handled. One question for consumers to ask is whether the contingency fee is going to be charged against the property damage recovery and/or medical payments (med-pay) benefits from your own insurance carrier. Many experienced attorneys do not charge fees related to property damage claims or med-pay benefits. The second area for inquiry is the amount of expenses related to the claim and/or case.

Under Alabama law an attorney can advance expenses related to a client’s claim or case such as medical record expenses, filing fees, deposition expenses, etc. However, the client is responsible for reimbursing those expenses from their portion of the settlement proceeds. Most contingency fees for simple motor vehicle accident liability claims authorize a fee percentage of around one-third (33 1/3%) plus expenses.* It is important for the consumer to know how much the expenses will be for their particular claim and/or case. Sample questions that consumers should ask about a lawyer’s contingency fee: Does your contingency fee apply to property damage? Does your contingency fee apply to benefits recovered from my own insurance, such as med-pay benefits and/or health insurance benefits? How much do you think the expenses will be for my claim and/or case? How will the expenses be handled? Do you have a sample distribution schedule for a similar case? Will I get a copy of the fee contract? * For more complicated and expensive cases involving defective products, contingency fees generally range from 40 to 50% of the net recovery (the amount after reimbursement of expenses).

EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE

You should not be afraid to ask the lawyer about his or her trial experience in handling similar legal matters. The goal in handling a personal injury claim or case is to resolve the matter for a fair amount without having to subject the client to the stress, strain and uncertainty of a trial. While it is true that most civil claims and cases settle without a trial, trial experience is critical when hiring a personal injury attorney. Insurance adjusters know and rate the experience level of the attorney representing a claimant. This is a factor in their evaluation of a claim. Talk with people in the community about their recommendations. Many healthcare professionals who treat injury victims have knowledge about the skill and trial experience of local attorneys. Sample questions that a consumer should ask about a lawyer’s trial experience: How many cases similar to mine have you actually tried in Court? Tell me about the results of those cases. How many cases have you litigated involving this insurance company? What attorney or law firm does their insurance company use? And, how many cases have you tried against that lawyer and/or law firm?

You should also listen to the attorney as he or she explains the various issues related to your claim or you case. Does the attorney know and explain issues in a way that makes you feel confident in his or ability to handle the matter? Sample questions would include: How does the injury claim process work? What factors are important when valuing my claim or case? What can you tell me about how insurance companies use computer assisted claim evaluation programs when reviewing and evaluating claims?

RESOURCES

When hiring a personal injury attorney you should also consider the resources of that lawyer and law firm. This includes the financial resources necessary for the expenses of the claim or case and the general resources such as personnel and technology. A lawyer’s commitment to having skilled and qualified support personnel is reflective of an attorney who wants the best for his or her client. Likewise, attorneys who want to be efficient and effective for their clients utilize current technology and state of the art office equipment. Simply put, if the lawyer does not want to, or can not afford to, invest adequate resources into his or her own practice, what makes you think he or she will invest adequate resources in a claim or case? Sample questions a consumer should ask about the lawyer’s resources: Do you have the financial resources to adequately prosecute my claim or case? Who else in your office will be working on my case and what will they be doing?

CONSULTATIONS ARE FREE

So why not talk to several attorneys. Consumers should be cautious of attorneys who push too hard to have a representation agreement signed immediately. Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for consultations and this allows consumers the opportunity to talk with several different lawyers or law firms before deciding which lawyer or law firm to hire. When consulting with an attorney ask for copies of material and information they have available for potential clients. NOTE: There are situations and times when immediate legal intervention may be necessary, but the attorney should fully explain such a situation.

CONSUMER ALERT: BEWARE OF MISLEADING ADS BY TV LAWYERS!

READING THE FINE PRINT ON LAWYER TV ADS. Recently there have been numerous TV commercials for lawyers where someone brags about how much money the lawyer recovered for them. These people generally appear fine and gush about what a financial windfall the lawyer got them for their injury claim. The problem is the fine print disclaimers that accompany the commercials usually scroll across the screen so quickly, or are so small, you can’t read them. Many people don’t even see them let alone read them. Here’s a compilation of some of these disclaimers from some TV lawyer ads:

– Not an actual client testimonial or based upon a specific case.
– Dramatization: Not an actual case. Your results may vary.
– Fictionalized account for advertising purposes only
– Actor portrayal, not a real client.
– The monetary result referenced is not from an actual case.
– The monetary recoveries referenced are not typical of most injury claims and [law firm name omitted] in no way guarantees or promises similar results for specific injury claims. – Not a typical injury case recovery.
– [Lawyer name omitted] will not be the lawyer responsible handling your claim or case and the financial recoveries referenced herein are generalizations of atypical injury cases. No warranty or guarantee of a specific monetary result is made herein.
– Not a real client or real case result.
– Not an actual case result or recovery. [Law firm name omitted] processes claims and cases via a referral to an affiliate law firm. Referral law firms are solely responsible for claim and case presentation and remit a portion of the attorney fees to [law firm name omitted.]
– Actor and/or spokesperson is compensated for services and any reference to financial recoveries are of non-typical personal injury matters.
– Actual results may vary. Not licensed to practice law in Alabama.

Legal? Maybe. But doesn’t this smell of deception? A commercial runs with a “client” boasting of a huge financial recovery but hidden in the commercial is a “fine print” disclaimer stating the results are not true or not typical. Seems like the old bait and switch sales tactics used by shady salesmen of days gone by. Trust between an attorney and his or her client is critical to a good relationship. Clients must rely on and trust their attorney to help them through a difficult time. If the initial basis for that relationship is based upon deception, can the client really be confident that the attorney has the client’s best interest at heart?

Seven Driving Safety Tips for the 4th of July!

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that the 4th of July holiday is the deadliest driving day of the year. An average of 144 traffic fatalities happen each year on the 4th of July and almost 300 additional deaths for the other days around the 4th of July. The IIHS offers the following suggestions for safer traveling this 4th of July:


1. FOLLOW BASIC SAFETY PRACTICES.

“If everyone buckled up, didn’t drink and drive and obeyed the speed limit, July Fourth would be a lot safer,” says IIHS spokesman Russ Rader. And it may sound obvious, but if you’re riding a motorcycle, always wear a helmet. “Motorcycle crashes also play a significant role in the deaths that occur on the Fourth,” said Rader. “If you’re considering buying a bike for the first time or getting a new one, make sure it has antilock brakes, which are increasingly standard on motorcycles. ABS can reduce your risk of dying in a crash by nearly a third.”

2. TAKE PREVENTIVE MEASURES.

Have a trusted mechanic check over your car before a long road trip or at least check your oil level, tire pressure and make sure your coolant level is correct, since cars can overheat when stuck in traffic.

3. PLAY AROUND WITH YOUR TRIP’S TIMING IF POSSIBLE.

While the days around July 4 are also dangerous, it is a bit safer to travel a few days before and after July 4 than on the day itself. TODAY’s Dylan Dreyer recommends leaving Friday before 7 a.m. or Saturday before 11 a.m. According to traffic and navigation app Waze, the worst time to travel is Thursday and Friday between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. And for the return trip, avoid driving Monday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

4. MIND THE GAP.

Use the 3-second rule to establish a safe following distance from the car in front of you.

5. KEEP YOUR EYES (AND MIND) ON THE ROAD.

Try to minimize distractions in the car, from family disputes to loose items like sunglasses, phones and other items left on the dashboard, which can obstruct the driver’s view or fall startlingly to the floor.

6. KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING.

Familiarize yourself with the route by checking the map and printing directions ahead of time. During the drive, have a capable passenger alert the driver to turns, exits and the like to minimize distractions. Avoid gazing at directions on the phone while driving.

7. GET PLENTY OF REST.

Perhaps you’ve been burning the midnight oil to wrap up projects before your vacation. But while a long car ride may mean a chance to recover as a passenger, it’s no place to let your guard down when you’re behind the wheel. Plan on taking frequent breaks, and rotating drivers whenever possible.

Read more from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety about traffic safety and traffic statistics:
http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/independence-day-ranks-highest-in-average-daily-crash-deaths

False Claims Act – Whistleblower Claims

by Mark Wolfe, Attorney at Law In 1863 the U.S. Government enacted the False Claims Actscales and gavel (FCA) as a way to stop and discourage fraud by companies who were selling war supplies to the Union Army during the civil war. It authorizes private citizens with “inside information” to bring a lawsuit on the government’s behalf against a person or business who has fraudulently or wrongly caused the Federal government to suffer a financial loss.

To encourage courageous individuals to step forward and report fraud the FCA provides that the individual who first comes forward and files the claim is rewarded with anywhere from 15- 30% of the government’s recovery! It also allows the person reporting the fraud or initiating the claim investigation to remain anonymous during the preliminary investigation and prevents retaliation once the action is formally started in Court.

These type of claims and cases have been increasing and in 2011, the Federal government recovered over $3 billion and paid almost $530 million to the individual whistleblowers who initiated these actions. Some examples of these type claims include:

– Billing for goods or services that were not provided or that were unnecessary.

– Falsifying certifications, test results, research data, safety reports, and/or product quality.

– Securing contracts through misrepresentation, kickbacks or bribes.

– Misuse or misappropriation of Federal grant funds.

– Duplicate or multiple billing for the same goods or services.

Many States, and some larger municipalities, have also enacted similar FCA laws to protect State and local governments from fraud. Alabama has not enacted FCA laws; however, if a State agency receives Federal funds it is possible a FCA claim can be maintained if the fraudulent loss is passed through the State agency back to the Federal funding. Initial reporting requirements for these type claims can be complex and tedious and may require further investigation and analysis before being presented to the Federal government for review. If you have inside knowledge or information about fraud against the Federal government and want legal help and guidance for the claim, we can help. Consultations are free and confidential. Call 433-7766 or e-mail me at mark@bfw-lawyers.com

    REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free Background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.