Uncategorized Blog

DUI Attorney Andrew R. Lynch

I wanted to take a moment and congratulate and refer my clients to Attorney Andrew R. Lynch.  Andrew and I have worked together on many cases in the past.

 

Andrew was just recognized as Super Lawyer, Rising Star 2016  for his work in litigating plaintiff’s personal injury cases and defending persons charged with crimes, DUI, and drug possession.  Any of one that knows me, knows I refer people with these problems to Andrew.

To contact Andrew go to www.Atlnotguilty.com or www.AttorneyAndrew.com.   He can also be reached directly at 404-373-7735.

Non-Emergency Medical Transport Radio Interview

Recently I had the pleasure of discussing Non-Emergency Medical Transport (NEMT) with fellow attorneys Stephen D. ApolinskySarah R. WatchkoJeffrey S. Warncke, and Nathan E. Woody.

Stephen D. Apolinsky deals with NEMT in the context of nursing home abuse. When Mr. Aplolinsky investigates whether nursing home abuse has occurred he examines who the patients caretakers are, up to and including the NEMT provider. Often nursing home patients cannot advocate for themselves, and need attorneys such as Mr. Apolinsky to advocate for them. When patients are transported from the nursing home to and back from their medical provider, dialysis, or the hospital, NEMT employees are responsible for their safety. When patients are injured by NEMT negligence it is not uncommon for the NEMT employees to blame the nursing home where the patient resides, and not accept responsibility.

Attorney Sarah R. Watchko represents individuals seeking legal advice concerning estate planning and administration, as well as elder law and special needs planning. Ms. Watchko’s clients often find either themselves or a family member participating in NEMT as a patient. Clients may seek Ms. Watchko out to plan for their estate before they become unable to function properly or make administrative decisions. Often Ms. Watchko’s clients take NEMT to and from medical appointments, and are unable to best determine which, if any, NEMT companies to engage with.

What does an insurance customer do who is being treated unfairly by his insurance company? If the customer is smart he’ll seek out the legal advice of attorney Jeffrey S. Warncke. Mr. Warncke protects individuals and families from unscrupulous insurance companies victimizing them a second time. Attorney Warncke interacts with NEMT companies if his client needs transportation to or from a medical provider. Because the NEMT is so entwined with Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance, Mr. Warncke is well versed dealing with the various entities.

Nathan E. Woody, a widely respected Georgia and South Carolina worker’s compensation attorney, utilizes NEMT for his clients to go to and from their medical providers. Because of attorney Woody’s experience his clients are often treated better, and have a better outcome, than many other worker’s compensation claimants.  NEMT for worker’s compensation is usually paid for by the employer’s worker’s insurance company, and that insurance company employs a NEMT broker to hire the actual NEMT provider. If the NEMT provider acts negligently and injures the worker’s compensation claimant, not only is the NEMT provider liable, but so might be the NEMT broker, for the reason that the broker likely required certain training and expertise from the NEMT provider, and selected the provider from other providers based on individual experience, safety record, and training.

Above are just some of the various attorneys who deal either directly or indirectly with NEMT. It is a vast industry that touches many parts of the law, and will continue to do so in the future.

Aaron M, Steve A, Sarah W, Jeff W, Nathan W, & Emily R (Host)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convicted Murderer Drives Colorado NEMT Patients

Ronald Vashone-Caruso, a convicted murderer out on supervised release, transported Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) patients until an allegedly harassed patient complained to the Colorado Department of Corrections. Mr. Vashone-Caruso was not terminated for his behavior or criminal history, but rather his insurance had lapsed, making him ineligible under Colorado law.

NEMT is the transportation of elderly, sick or disabled patients to and from attending doctors’ appointments and non-emergency medical treatment. Because these patients are, by definition, medically fragile, the persons transporting them need special training, background checks, and drug testing, at a minimum. Unfortunately this often does not happen, resulting in catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths. 

Mr. Vashone-Carus worked for Liberty Transportation, the for-profit NEMT provider,  which is now out of business.  The for-profit NEMT broker, Total Transit, is ultimately responsible for quality controlling who operates under Colorado’s NEMT program. Interestingly, Total Transit has refused to comment on how Mr. Vashone-Carus became a NEMT driver.

Because Liberty Transportation and Total Transit are transporting patients for money they are “common carriers” and therefore have the “highest duty” to transport their patients safely.

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Texas NEMT Lacked Criminal Background and Drug Tests – Results in $31Million of Improper Payments

The Office of Inspector General (OIG)  recommended Texas return $31 million in improper reimbursements related to its non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) program. Texas, like all states that administer Medicaid, applied for reimbursement from the federal government for providing eligible Medicaid beneficiaries transportation if they have no other options and a medical reason for the transportation exists. Unfortunately the Texas Medicaid agency overseeing the NEMT program failed to:

  1. Verify that the NEMT vehicles had been registered and inspected.
  2. Verify that criminal background checks were administered to drivers.
  3. Verify that drug tests were administered to drivers.

It is unknown from the OIG’s report whether any serious injuries or wrongful deaths resulted in this mismanagement of Texas’ NEMT program. However, it raises serious questions about claims of injury from patients whom NEMT was their only available transportation.

Woman Killed By Sleeping NEMT Driver

On Saturday, Mar 9, 2013, NEMT provider SCR Medical Transportation picked up  Ella Mae Williams, 58, an insulin dependent diabetic who required a wheelchair, to take her to Malcom X College, where she was working toward a degree in Business Administration. Tragically, the driver of the van fell asleep while transporting Ms. Williams and hit a pole, severely damaging the van and killing her.

The driver, Ted McNabola, first claimed to have swerved to avoid hitting a dog in the street. Yet the driver’s own video shows him closing his eyes until Ms. Williams’ screams jolted him awake.  The driver was convicted of speeding, negligent driving, and improper seatbelt usage. Also, his commercial driver’s license was canceled for one year.

SCR Medical Transportation was contracted to transport Ms. Williams through Pace Suburban Bus Service, a governmental program run by the state of Illinois. It is unclear what qualifications, if any, SCR was required to follow before transporting Ms. Williams. All too often driver fatigue results in death and catastrophic injuries, and the best way to avoid this is through driver training, background checks, and proper certification. It is also true that non-emergency medical transportation is a business that, by definition, is transporting medically fragile riders. The duty of care for the broker,  Pace Suburban Bus Service, and the actual provider, SCR Medical Transportation, is higher than it otherwise might be. Sadly, Ms. Williams and her family placed their trust in a company who clearly failed in training, managing, and supervising driver Ted McNabola.

 

 

 

 

Non-Emergency Medical Transport Business Denied

Recently  the  Mobile City Council denied TLT Transport LLC a license to operate Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) services in the city of Mobile, Alabama. The stated reason was lack of a written partnership agreement between TLT and the local ambulance service, and failure to have a physical presence in the city itself. While these requirements may seem like unnecessary, bureaucratic paperwork, they are a patient safeguard that is vitally important.  NEMT’s operate by transporting medically fragile patients to and from their medical providers. Almost by definition these patients cannot advocate for themselves, especially when it comes to safely transporting them. Because of these circumstances the Mobile City Council did the right thing by denying TLT’s license.  The community obviously needs these services, but the Mobile City Council put safety before convenience. Unless the business owner takes the procedures and safety of his clients seriously, injuries, and even accidental deaths, are a very real possibility. There needs to be a culture and expectation that safety is the first and most important priority. TLT Transport LLC needs to begin their relationship with the Mobile City Council by exceeding expectations.

Truck Accidents Are Dangerous and Costly

I always grip the steering wheel a bit tighter when a big rig truck comes barreling along next to me on the highway. And for good reason – as a personal injury attorney, I know that truck accidents can be deadly. According to a report released earlier this year, more than 3,700 people died in trucking accidents nationwide in 2011. Perhaps even more frightening, when looking at two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck and resulting in death, 97% of the fatalities were occupants in the passenger vehicle. Another report issued earlier this year, by the trucking industry itself, found that most trucking companies were underinsured and that damages in trucking accidents often exceeded the federally mandated minimum insurance amount of $750,000.
If that were not enough, prosecutors in New York recently charged more than a dozen people with fraud and making false statements after uncovering a commercial driver’s license cheating scam. As part of the scheme, over 60 people cheated on their New York commercial driver’s license test. Be careful out there!

Another Walmart Law Suit

Sometime later this month, Dekalb County Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie is expected to rule on whether Good Growth Dekalb, a local group opposing the new Wal-Mart store in Decatur, GA, can proceed with their lawsuit against the county for failing to follow its own zoning rules. What would a new big box store mean for Decatur? Personally, I would rather not shop at Wal-Mart. As a personal injury attorney who has handled cases against Wal-Mart, I have seen up close the damage that their business practices do to people who are injured in their stores. What do you think?

For more information on personal injury claims against Wal-Mart, see Five Things to Know if You Are Injured at Wal-Mart.

For more information on Good Growth Dekalb’s lawsuit against Wal-Mart, see their website.

Five Things to Know if You Are Injured at Wal-Mart

I am a personal injury attorney in Decatur, Georgia and I have successfully handled cases against many national retailers. If you are injured in a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club store, here are five things you should know.

1. Many people are injured at Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the United States and, for that reason alone, many customers experience injuries in or at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores. But the number of stores is only part of the equation. In some stores, customer safety may not be the priority it should be, resulting in avoidable injuries.

2. In all states, Wal-Mart self-insures.
Most retail stores have a general liability insurance policy. They pay the premiums on the policy and, if someone is injured in the store, the insurance company – not the store – handles the claim. Wal-Mart self-insures, which means the Wal-Mart manages all claims against the store itself through a “separate” company that is controlled and owned by Wal-Mart. This means that Wal-Mart exercises a great degree of control over the claims process and any money they pay out comes directly out of Wal-Mart’s pocket. Not surprisingly, Wal-Mart does not like to lose money, which leads us to the next point…

3. Many people have had a difficult time getting Wal-Mart to help them after injuries.
A common experience is that a person is injured in a store, and they immediately tell the manager or a store employee. The employee seems concerned, tells the injured person that Wal-Mart might be able to help, and gives the person the phone number of the risk management office to call. And then, nothing happens. No one from the store contacts the injured person, and phone calls to the number go unreturned. Paperwork gets lost, and the claim gets delayed. Some people have even suffered permanent injury that could have been avoided if medical treatment had been given immediately. If you are hurt and do not have insurance, it is imperative that you get the help you need as soon as possible.

4. Wal-Mart initially denies many claims.
Oftentimes, Wal-Mart will say that customer is to blame for the injury and that he or she should have been more careful. Many people get discouraged if their claim is denied and give up, and then Wal-Mart does not have to compensate these people for the injuries they caused. This is one reason why it is so important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after you are injured.

5. To win against Wal-Mart, you have to fight back.
If you are injured in a Wal-Mart, or any other store, you should consult with a personal injury attorney who has experience handling cases against Wal-Mart. An initial consultation with almost any personal injury lawyer is free, and an attorney will be able to tell you what steps to take next. In the meantime, do not talk to anyone representing Wal-Mart about the accident without an attorney present. They employ claims adjusters who are trained to minimize the damages an injured party can recover and try to get people to admit that they were at fault in the accident. Also, make sure to get the medical attention you need. Many attorneys have relationships with local doctors who will provide medical service with the understanding that the patient will pay the bills when he or she wins in court or settles the claim. While fighting to get your claim resolved can seem bewildering, an experienced attorney will know exactly what to do so that you can get all the help that you need.

Nearly 2,500 day care programs in Georgia have failed their children

The AJC published a frightening article on January 22, 2012, detailing the many failures Georgia’s office of Department of Early Care and Learning has failed to rectify with state daycare centers. The entire article can be found here:

http://bit.ly/xTu4o4

It is easier to view how your favorite restaurant did on its latest health inspection than how your daycare provider complied with national and state regulations. One provider has incurred 191 violations in the past three years, and it is still open, caring for children.

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