Federal program meant to help flood victims spends millions fighting claims

Federal program meant to help flood victims spends millions fighting claims

For the last two years, Richard and Linda Brown have been living in a shell of a home — no insulation, drywall or flooring — while trying to raise four kids.

Their house in Louisiana was destroyed by floodwaters in 2016. At the time they didn’t panic, because they had a flood insurance policy worth $168,000. To date, they’ve received less than half of that — around $62,000.

“We pay into this premium, and all I want is [it] just to be fair, and we weren’t getting fair,” Linda said.

Two years later, they’re living in a house that’s still exposed down to the studs.

“The kids have to live like this. They can’t have friends come over. We can’t have family come over because we’re living like this. And it’s hard,” Linda said.

The Browns decided to fight the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in court. Established 50 years ago to help flood victims, the NFIP is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and responsible for all flood policies in the United States. Insurance premiums and taxpayer dollars fund the program, to the tune of about $3 billion a year.

But FEMA doesn’t administer all the policies. It outsources most of them to private insurance companies called “write your owns,” or WYOs.

The WYOs — and all of their agents — get paid out of the same pot of money as flood victims. Some years, up to two-thirds of that money goes to the WYOs — and the attorneys they hire to fight flood victims’ claims.

In effect, by paying their premiums on time every year, homeowners like the Browns help fund the very lawyers fighting them in court.

“It’s like people make money off disaster. The more they can make, the better,” Richard said.

A 2016 government report found little oversight of flood litigation spending by FEMA. One flood case was estimated to cost $87,000 in legal fees, just for trial preparation. That homeowner’s policy limit was $25,000.

Gerald Nielsen’s Louisiana law firm was hired to fight the Browns’ claim. For more than 30 years, Nielsen has been the go-to lawyer for insurance companies fighting against flood victims — a role for which he has drawn anger from Congress.

“He dealt with [Superstorm] Sandy victims like they were the perpetrators, enriching himself at their expense,” New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez said during a Senate hearing, referring to the 2012 hurricane that did billions of dollars in damage to the East Coast.

A New York judge called his “misconduct” in one Sandy case “remorseless,” saying Nielsen’s failure to “exercise reasonable diligence” harmed flood victims.

Court documents show Nielsen’s firm demanded depositions to verify receipts, a process that would have cost far more than the bills themselves.

“Can you imagine losing everything that you have ever had in your life? And you paid for insurance,” said John Houghtaling, the Browns’ attorney. His law firm also represented victims of Sandy in court against Nielsen’s firm.

“There was no effort to mitigate the cost. In many cases, we were asked to have experts re-inspect — for a third time — homes that were totally destroyed,” Houghtaling said.

A public information request revealed FEMA paid Nielsen’s firm at least $29 million for Sandy cases alone.

Nielsen declined our request for an on-camera interview. He hadn’t acknowledged receiving our questions, so our producer went to his office. A man said he was there, but “not available.”

We caught up with him in the parking garage to ask about his legal fees.

“I’ve got to go through ethics counsel because some of what you asked clearly is privileged,” Nielsen said.

Later, Nielsen wrote CBS News a letter saying he was acting at the direction of his clients and all his bills were reviewed by the clients and FEMA.

The Browns have a message to the people who could do something about their situation.

“We just want to put the house back together and we’re still like this right now,” Linda Brown said. “Just think about what we’re going through. We’re not asking for much. We just want our house back together so we can just be happy again. That’s all.”

 

If you or someone you know has been denied your insurance claim, or if the claim was under deductible we may be able to help.  Stop fighting with insurance adjusters, contact Perry & Young today for a free claim analysis.  No Recovery No Fee.  850-215-7777 

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/national-flood-insurance-program-meant-to-help-victims-spends-millions-fighting-claims/

5 Things to Look for in a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

While choosing the right medical malpractice lawyer may seem impossible, it is achieveable with the right tools in your back pocket. There are some things you can look for when searching, interviewing, and finally deciding on which medical malpractice lawyer you should go with. Going up against a doctor, the nurses, and even a medical facility or two is no easy task which is why you need to look for an experienced attorney. An attorney that you know will go to war as on your behalf and ask as you or your loved one’s best advocate when that time comes. It will take an exceptional medical malpractice lawyer to help you win. Most of these go to trial to establish the facts so you need to make sure your lawyer has established the duty between the patient and doctor/hospital. After you have established that duty, you must find the breach of that duty or standard medical procedure. After these two things have been established, one of the hardest things your lawyer with must do it prove the connection between the breach and whatever caused the injury. The final thing your attorney will have to prove is damages caused the breach of duty.

These things come with a number of years of experience and from someone well versed with any and all medical aspects in the niche field they specialize in. Since most medical malpractice lawyers are experts in a specific field. For example, the lawyer can be an expert in dealing with birth injuries or surgical mishap cases. Having a special niche is indicative of years of experience in the field and will have no trouble making case theories, talking to medical experts and understanding all the technical jargon. You need to make sure your attorney is both compassionate and aggressive towards your case because you will need it when trying to win your case. Ensure that the attorney you choose has access to medical experts that can be called on for expert testimony as well as making the jury understand your case entirely. If you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, Contact us today!

Source: https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/434679110/5-important-qualifications-to-look-for-in-a-medical-malpractice-lawyer

Washington County Pursuing Opioid Lawsuit

Washington County, Fla. – The Washington County Commission has hired the Perry & Young law firm to represent the county in the Opioid Multi-District Litigation.

The firm is partnered with DeGaris & Rogers  has serves on numerous federal multidistrict litigation panels.

“For nearly ten years Perry & Young has pursued cases against doctors, clinics and pharmacies for

over prescribing and mis-prescribing opioids which led to the wrongful deaths of several residents in Bay, Washington, Jackson, Gulf and Holmes counties,” officials wrote in a news release. “The firms intend on filing a lawsuit within the next two weeks against the drug manufactures and multinational distributors.”

Washington County has the highest per capita rate of opioid prescriptions in the State of Florida.

“The citizens of Washington County have paid an “opioid tax” of nearly a million dollars this past year alone for increase in governmental services in police, emergency medical services, court services and community clinics which  impact is directly related to the increase in opioid use in the area,” officials added.

 

Car Accident In Florida? – What Does It Mean For You

Car accidents are the leading cause of death and serious injury in the state of Florida. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, speeding and careless driving are two of the leading reasons auto accidents occur. Analyzing the cause of an accident—and the way in which a car crash happened determines who is liable for any wrongful death or personal injury claims.

PIP benefits are there When Car Accidents Happen

Florida’s No-Fault Law provides for Personal Injury Protection, or PIP benefits for the payment of medical benefits resulting from an auto accident. All car owners are required to have PIP to have their medical bills paid up to the PIP policy limits, up to $10,000.00 or $2500.00 if there no determination of an emergency medical condition, if a Florida accident occurs – regardless of whose fault the accident is. The goal of having PIP insurance is to help injured victims get the medical treatment they need within 1 days of the accident without having to wait for their case to settle.

In order to qualify for the full $10,000, there must be a finding that the patient has an emergency medical condition. If there is no finding of an emergency medical condition, the patient can only claim up to $2,500 in medical fees. An emergency medical condition (EMC) is defined as a:

  • Serious jeopardy to a patients health
  • Serious impairment of everyday bodily functions
  • Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part due to the accident

There is no preset list of injuries that automatically meet the requirements so it’s up to the treating doctor to make the determination of an EMC, though the insurance company’s doctor can challenge this finding.

Common kinds of auto accidents

An experienced auto accident attorney will look at the nature of the auto accident to determine who should be held liable—the owners of the vehicles, manufacturers, and other entities may be at fault in some cases. The way in which the accident happened also indicates which injuries are likely to occur. Majority of South Florida car collisions fall into one of the following categories:

Rear-end car accidents. This is where a car in the rear fails to slow down in time and strikes the back of the car in front of it. In most cases, the driver and owner of the rear car are almost always liable for the injuries that occur. Injuries that are considered soft-tissue, such as whiplash, are a common result of a rear-end collision.

Head-on collisions. This happens when one vehicle strikes another vehicle head-on so that the fronts of both cars collide together. This usually occurs because one vehicle is in the wrong lane. The driver may be going down a one-way street the wrong way, may be intoxicated or may have become distracted while driving due to various reasons. Head-on crashes are often fatal in most cases.

Side-impact crashes. These type of crashed are also called a T-bone crashes because the cars collide in the shape of the letter T. These accidents often happen at intersections due to running a red light or a stop sign. The occupants of the impacted vehicle often suffer very severe and permanent injuries.

Sideswipe accidents. This usually happens when one motor vehicle veers into the lane of another car or fails to merge properly, striking the car in the same lane. Vehicles that pass improperly can also cause a sideswipe.

Auto rollovers. Vehicles that are going too fast, taking a turn to quickly, or are part of multi-vehicle crashes can easily roll over. This type of accident usually results in the death of the occupants or causing catastrophic injuries. Certain vehicles, such as jeeps and sport utility vehicles, tend to roll over due to their higher center of gravity.

Multi-car crashes. These accidents are usually complex because the path of each vehicle before and after the impact can be hard to determine in some cases. The cars involved may be struck more than once. These cases involve multiple plaintiffs and multiple defendants.

Single-car accidents. Majority of these accidents may be caused by product defects. However, if the driver is at fault, the passengers do have a claim against the driver.

The manner in which the accident occurred is often determined with the help of the police and an investigation of the accident site, the vehicles, and by speaking with all relevant witnesses. Sometimes, professional experts are used to determine how the wreck occurred.

Why is texting the most dangerous form of distracted driving?

Whether driving or being a passenger, the chances are likely that you have ridden with a distracted driver or drove distracted yourself. Distracted driving is frighteningly common and results in thousands of injuries or deaths each year in Florida and across the country.

You may not even have to knowingly drive while distracted. A crying baby in the backseat, a spilled drink or an accident by the side of the road might catch your attention for just long enough to cause an accident. However, there is one form of distraction that requires a choice on your part, and which you should definitely choose not to participate in – texting and driving.

It is important to understand the three types of driving distractions. They include the following:

  • Cognitive – This is a form of distraction that takes your mind off the road. Daydreaming, talking to passengers or yelling at other drivers are all forms of cognitive distraction.
  • Visual – Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. They can include turning to look at passengers while talking, gazing at scenery or your attention being caught by something near the roadside.
  • Manual – Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the wheel or your feet off the pedals. Eating while struggling to maneuver the steering wheel is a classic example of a manual distraction.

Texting while driving is serious because all three types of distractions come into play. When you use your phone to read or compose a text, you take your eyes off the road, one or both hands leave the wheel and your mind focuses on the act of reading and sending a text rather than concentrating on the task of driving.

The advice regarding texting and driving is simple and straightforward: Do not do it. If you must read or send a text or email, wait until you reach your destination or pull over before picking up your phone. By making smart decisions regarding distracted driving, you may save lives, including your own.

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