Archive for September, 2014

Mississippi BP Oil Spill Attorneys Discuss the Latest Legal Developments

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

It has been four years since the BP oil spill pumped 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, yet many businesses and individuals affected by the spill are still fighting to obtain compensation.  Clean up workers and coastal residents seeking medical damages in the settlement comprise one such group still struggling to have their claims approved.

Mark Mead is a member of a group of about 20,000 coastal residents and cleanup workers who have currently been blocked from settlement payments.  Mark Mead and two friends were fishing just miles away from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig when it suddenly burst into flames, lighting up the sky.  The trio rushed toward the rig to help pull survivors and bodies out of the water.  As the oil continued to spill out of BP’s damaged well over the next four months, Mark Mead helped as part of BP’s cleanup effort.  He worked to retrieve contaminated boom near the Florida-Alabama line.

Despite his heroic efforts, Mead now finds himself part of a group of 20,000 who have been blocked from receiving settlement payments under a disputed reading of a phase found within the 1,000 page agreement.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier initially agreed with BP’s reading of the settlement and ruled to block the 20,000 coastal residents and cleanup workers.  Now, however, he is reconsidering the interpretation and the affect it will have on these class members who will likely now face years of costly litigation.  For Mead and the others, their fate now rests in Judge Barbier’s hands.  Many of the cleanup workers and residents suffered severe medical complications as a result of exposure to the oil.  Some are struggling with ongoing medical expenses and disability.

On another front, Federal District Court Judge Barbier has also ruled that BP cannot recoup the funds it claims to have overpaid victims of the oil spill.  This ruling came on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 following several hearings on the matter.  BP had successfully argued last years that the accounting methods used to determine claim payments were flawed and too generous.  Judge Barbier ordered the office processing claims to adopt a new accounting procedure.

In response to this victory, BP then claimed that it should be able to recoup the hundreds of millions of dollars that it claims it overpaid to victims.  Judge Barbier disagreed, finding that the earlier claims were paid under the settlement’s terms as interpreted at that time.  The fact that the interpretation was later reversed does not equate to fraud by claimants, and does not justify recovery of monies paid.  The individual release signed by all those who agreed to the settlement further supported this position, as in it claimants were informed that further legal proceedings or changes in the terms of the settlement would not affect them.

Barrett Law PLLC: Mississippi BP Oil Spill Attorneys Assisting Oil Spill Victims Until All Have Received Justice

It has been four years since the BP oil spill, but for many, relief continues to elude them.  As this look at the recent legal rulings concerning the case demonstrates, BP oil spill litigation is ongoing and many questions still remain.  The Mississippi BP Oil Spill Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC vow to continue to assist oil spill victims in obtaining a recovery until the very end of this monumental case and chapter in U.S. history.  If you have been or may have been impacted by the BP oil spill, our team of experienced oil spill attorneys can help.  Call us today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys Discuss Tax Fraud

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

As part of its initiative to catch taxpayers who are paying fewer taxes than they actually owe to the U.S. government, Congress has enacted the IRS Whistleblower Rewards Program.  The Whistleblower Rewards Program provides substantial incentives to individuals who come forward and identify other persons, businesses and corporations, trusts, partnerships, and other entities that are underpaying their taxes in any way, whether it is the result of fraud, uncertain tax positions, or just simple mistake.

The incentive is a mandatory award to the person or whistleblower who comes forward to reveal the underpayment of taxes to the IRS.  This award can equal up to 30 percent of any taxes, interest, and penalties collected by the IRS from the underpaying taxpayer. The IRS Whistleblower Protection was enacted by the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006.  It does not place a cap on the dollar amount of the award, so those who come forward and identify a large underpayment of taxes by another taxpayer stand to potentially collect millions of dollars in award monies from the government for their efforts.

Tax Whistleblower Reward Amounts

In Section 7623 of the Internal Revenue Code, whistleblowers are allowed an award of between 15 and 30 percent of the taxes ultimately collected by the IRS if they make a substantial contribution to the collection.  The award will be calculated based on the total of the tax, interest, penalties, and any additions to tax collected by the IRS as a result of the information provided by the whistleblower.  Rewards can also issue for whistleblowers who report information about an underpayment that would reduce the amount of the refund claimed by the taxpayer.  The award is not capped.

The Whistleblower Rewards Act is targeted at unveiling large underpayments of taxes.  A person will only receive an award under the program if the total underpayment of the tax, along with interest, penalties, and additions to tax,   ultimately collected by the IRS exceeds $2 million.  The income of the individual taxpayer who owes taxes must exceed $200,000 in the year the tax was due.  Whistleblowers should be aware in attempting to make calculations as to underpayment, penalties range from 20-40 percent of the tax due.  Compounding interest combined with penalties will often result in the doubling of the total amount of deficiency taxes that would otherwise have been paid if submitted in a timely manner.

Anyone who has participated in the Whistleblower Rewards Program and received no award or an award they feel was less than they deserve can appeal the determination to the United States Tax Court.  Your licensed whistleblower attorney will guide you through the entire process of reporting tax fraud to the ultimate award of the monies you deserve.

Barrett Law PLLC: Assisting You in Blowing the Whistle on Tax Fraud

Under the IRS Whistleblower Rewards Program, you could receive an award of up to 30 percent of all taxes, interest, and penalties collected by the IRS as a result of your crucial information.  Tax fraud costs the U.S. government billions of dollars each year, and it takes brave whistleblowers like you to put a stop to this illegal activity. The seasoned Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC have over 75 years experience assisting individuals in a wide variety of whistleblower actions.  Our attorneys will assist you in the art of dealing with the IRS so that you collect the award you deserve for reporting tax fraud.  At Barrett Law PLLC, we offer a free consultation to all new clients and operate on a contingency fee basis.  For representation of simply unmatched excellence, call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Defective Automobile Accident Attorneys Discuss the Latest on the GM Ignition Switch Recall

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

On Monday, September 22, 2014, Kenneth Feinberg, the attorney overseeing GM’s program developed to compensate the victims of accidents caused by the company’s defective ignition switches, revealed that the death toll linked to the switches has risen.  Thus far, 21 individuals are believed to have died as a direct result of General Motor Co.’s faulty ignition switches.

Since August 1st of this year, nearly 700 claims have been submitted for injuries or deaths said to be caused by the defective ignition switches.  These claims are currently being processed.  At the time of the most recent press release, 21 death claims have been deemed eligible for compensation.  Another 16 claims have been accepted for serious physical injuries linked to the switches.

GM’s victim compensation program intends to continue to accept applications until December 31, 2014.  Applications are being accepted on behalf of anyone injured or killed in an automobile accident that is believed to have been caused by the faulty ignition switches which spurred the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.  The ignition switches in question are reported to slip out of position, forcing the vehicle from “on” mode to “off.”  This causes vehicles to stall and disables airbags.  While 21 deaths have been confirmed to be caused by the switches, a total of 143 death claims have been submitted thus far.  The number of confirmed accidents and deaths could well increase in coming months.

A spokesperson for GM has publically stated that the company’s goal with the victim compensation program is to reach as many possibly injured individuals as possible.  Thus far, GM has accepted Feinberg’s award determinations and eligibility for compensation criteria.

Under the victim compensation program, the amount of compensation is not capped.  Each eligible death claim will receive at least one million dollars.  This figure could increase depending upon relevant factors, such as the existence of dependents or loss of substantial income due to the death.  GM has allocated $400 million to cover the costs of compensating victims.

As GM continues to handle the victim compensation program, it also recently received news that it will face a lawsuit brought by the family of a Georgia woman who claims GM concealed critical evidence concerning the faulty ignition switches that lead to their relative’s death.  In a hearing held in a Cobb County courthouse, the presiding judge denied GM’s motion to dismiss the suit.

The suit stems from an accident that actually occurred back in 2010.  Brooke Melton died in a car accident when her Chevrolet Cobalt switched suddenly into accessory mode, forcing her vehicle to collide with another driver.  Melton’s parents initially filed suit against GM in 2011 and reportedly settled for $5 million.  Evidence that emerged as a result of the lawsuit proved critical in prompting the massive recall of the faulty ignition switches.

After the recall became public, the Meltons asked GM to withdraw the settlement on the basis of concealment of evidence.  GM refused, and now faces another suit by the Meltons alleging both fraud and false inducements to settle.

Barrett Law PLLC: Assisting the Victims of the GM Recall  

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that may have been linked to a faulty GM ignition switch, the Mississippi Defective Automobile Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC can help.  The deadline to apply to the victim’s compensation program is fast approaching.  The attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC will evaluate your accident and provide you with an assessment as to your ability to recover.   We will then assist you in drafting and filing your claim in the strongest manner possible so that you obtain the compensation you deserve.  Call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Examine Ladder and Scaffolding Accidents

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Many construction jobs require the use of ladders or scaffolds to reach elevated surfaces when building new property or repairing damage to existing structures.  When proper safety measures are not followed, construction workers are placed at risk of serious falls and potentially disabling injuries.  In Mississippi, employees who are injured on the jobsite will generally be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that can cover medical bills, missed time from work, and more.  Under some circumstances, injured workers may be able to seek recovery outside of or in addition to workers’ compensation, as in the case of a defective ladder or scaffold leading to the injuries.

Why Do Ladder and Scaffolding Accidents Occur?

Falls from scaffolds and ladders that happen on the jobsite are often the result of poor safety standards, maintenance, or a manufacturer defect.  Some examples of improper safety measures or defective designs include:

  • Lack of guardrails
  • Loose rungs
  • Broken parts
  • Ladders that are improperly positioned
  • Ladders or scaffolds that are improperly tied off

Falls from the often extreme heights involved in ladder and scaffold accidents can have devastating consequences. Construction workers injured in high height falls will commonly require months of rehabilitation and ongoing medical care. Permanent disabilities can result from serious ladder and scaffold falls.

Some of the injuries most often experienced by ladder and scaffold accident victims include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Head injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Neck and back damage
  • Broken bones
  • Internal organ damage
  • Death

Employers have a duty to provide their employees with a safe working environment, proper training, and safe equipment.  The Occupational Safety & Health Administration offers the following tips on fall prevention to any employers whose jobs require the use of ladders and scaffolds:

  1. Plan:  Before the task is started, plan to complete the job in a safe manner.  Identify what safety equipment will be required for each and every task, and envision the fall hazards that present each step of the way.  By anticipating accidents and utilizing safety equipment to prevent them, you can minimize the risk of falls.
  2. Provide:  Employers must provide employees with the proper equipment.  All ladders and scaffolds should be inspected prior to use and maintained in excellent condition.  Employers must provide fall protection equipment, which will range depending upon the job at hand.  Ladders should always be selected based on the needs of the individual job.
  3. Train:  You are responsible for training your employees on the proper set up and safe operation of ladders, scaffolds, and other equipment.  Train workers to recognize any hazards and properly use safety equipment that can prevent falls.

            If you are injured in a workplace accident, you do have options to recover for your damages incurred.  Workers’ compensation offers a no-fault system that reimburses employees for medical expenses and missed time from work.  Further relief may be found through personal injury or product liability suits.

Barrett Law PLLC: Experienced Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

For over 75 years, the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC have assisted injured workers across the state in a wide range of workers’ compensation matters.  Our award winning workers’ compensation attorneys will fight to see that you receive the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, disabilities, and more, in the event you are injured in the workplace.  For assistance with your workers’ compensation matter or any other workplace accident issue, call the dedicated attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys Discuss Attorney General Eric Holder’s Call for Increased Financial Incentives for Whistleblowers

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder called on Congress to increase the financial incentives presently offered to corporate insiders who blow the whistle on white collar crime.  Holder cited to the troubling return of many of the risky behaviors that led to the 2008 financial crisis as requiring increased incentives to encourage whistleblowers.

Holder’s remarks came the same week that Lehman Brothers’ collapse sent the financial markets into chaos six years ago.  Holder stated that now, the government has the opportunity to leverage the lessons, insights, and experience learned from investigating the last financial crisis to the potential for more issues unfolding around us today.

For years, the Justice Department has been harshly criticized for failing to criminally prosecute the senior officers of banks that pushed risky mortgage securities as part of the overall web of deception that caused the monumental burst in the U.S. housing market.

Holder countered such criticisms by noting that the Justice Department recently obtaining guilty pleas from the French bank BNP and Swiss bank Credit Suisse.  These verdicts were said to end significant speculation that some banks are too big to prosecute.

Holder did stress, however, that reconstructing crimes after the fact is both complex and difficult.  Building a case against often insulated senior officers, who have often shielded themselves skillfully with written disclosures and advice of counsel defenses is never easy.  As such, Holder states, it is important to uncover and police illegal activity as it occurs.  To accomplish this, the Justice Department needs whistleblowers as cooperating witnesses.

Currently, the federal False Claims Act offers whistleblowers who alert authorities to fraud, scams, or crimes against the government a recovery of up to one third of what the investigators recover for taxpayers.  This figure has led to the recovery of more than $22 billion since just 2009.

However, in recent years, the Justice Department has increasingly relied on a 1991 law designed to build mortgage-related cases accusing banks and other financial institutions of internal fraud.  These cases have led to major settlements with large financial institutions, including Citigroup, JP Morgan, and Bank of America.

The problem with this law is that is caps the recovery of whistleblowers at $1.6 million.  This sum, for an individual who is likely risking his or her entire career to cooperate with investigators and uncover fraud, is paltry, according to Holder.  Holder pointed out that in the last year, the collective bonus pool was over $26 billion and the median pay among executives is $15 million and rising.

Employees with lucrative careers in the financial sector are unlikely to be induced to blow the whistle for the sum of $1.6 million.  As such, Holder is urging an increase in incentives under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act.

Barrett Law PLLC: Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys Handling Even the Most Complex of Qui Tam Actions

Bringing a whistleblower claim requires courage, dedication, and experienced legal guidance.  Whistleblower actions are often complex and can take time to successfully mount.  The award winning Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC have over 75 years experience guiding brave whistleblowers through the filing of qui tam actions.  We have the skill, knowledge, and passion to bring even the most complex of whistleblower actions and will always fight for your maximum recovery.  At Barrett Law PLLC, we offer a free consultation to all new clients and operate on a contingency fee basis.  For representation by a team of renowned whistleblower attorneys, call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorneys Discuss the Dangers Posed by Distracted Drivers to School Children

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

School zones are enacted to keep young children safe while traveling to and from school.  In these areas, speed limits are lowered and drivers are warned to look out for young children crossing the street.  Unfortunately, according to a study recently released by Safe Kids USA, many drivers do not follow the safety rules within school zones.  Drivers fail to slow down and, most alarmingly, drive distractedly through these areas intended to be a place of safety.  These actions pose a serious threat to the lives of all school children as they attempt to commute to and from school.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that school age pedestrians are at far greater risk of injury and death from traffic accidents than adults.  When motorists drive distractedly through school zones, the very lives of young children are at risk.  The victims of distracted driving and their families must contact a Mississippi automobile accident attorney as soon as possible following a school zone accident.

School Children in Mississippi Are At Risk From Distracted Driving

Approximately 25,000 children across the U.S. are injured while commuting to and from school each year.  The CDC estimates that one in four traffic fatalities involve children pedestrians under the age of 14.  A significant percentage of these accidents occur in or around school zones.

This alarmingly high rate of pedestrian accidents among young children makes the data revealed by Safe Kids USA all the more troubling.  According to the Safe Kids report, one in six drivers is distracted when driving through a school zone.  Drivers tend to be more distracted in the afternoon than the morning, and those traveling through school zones with a high volume of traffic are the most distracted.  School zones without flashing lights also appear to be least effective in encouraging drivers to slow down and pay attention.

Both male and female drivers reported driving distractedly in school zones, but women were more likely than men to focus on something other than the road ahead.  An estimated 187 out of every 1,000 women drivers admitted to driving distracted, while only 154 out of every 1,000 male drivers were distracted in school zones.

Electronic devices, mainly cell phones, lead to the highest number of distractions.  At least 98 out of 1,000 motorists cited the use of an electronic device as the source of their distraction.  Eating, drinking, and smoking distracted another 44 out of 1,000 drivers, while reaching behind or looking behind accounted for another 19 out of 1,000 distractions.  Reading came in at the end of the list, leading to three out of 1,000 distracted drivers.

Barrett Law PLLC: Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorneys Zealously Representing the Youngest Victims of Distracted Driving

Recent studies show that school children are increasingly at risk of injury or death due to distracted drivers.  The Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC urge all drivers to be vigilant at all times, especially when driving near school zones.  Put away all distractions and pay attention to the road ahead.  It takes all of us to keep our future generations safe.  In the event you or a loved one is injured by a distracted driver, the car accident attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC can help.  We will zealously fight for your full recovery following any automobile accident, seeking compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering permanent disability, and more.  Call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced automobile accident attorneys.

Mississippi Wrongful Death Attorneys Discuss Wrongful Death Suits Following Fatal Car or Truck Accidents

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

When an individual is killed in a truck or automobile accident due to the careless, reckless, or negligent actions of another, it is considered a wrongful death in Mississippi.  While the loss of a loved one is always difficult, knowing your loved one perished needlessly in a truck or car accident is particularly devastating.  The family members of the car or truck accident victim are often left entirely unprepared for the loss of their relative.  Far too often, the death brings with it significant financial implications along with much pain and suffering.

In the state of Mississippi, the family members of accident victims can receive compensation from the negligent car or truck driver that caused their relative’s death.  Compensation is pursued through a wrongful death action, and wrongful death suits offer a means of securing financial assistance for the victim’s family.

The following is a look at some questions commonly posed by family members who have lost their loved one in a car or truck accident:

  1. Can I bring a wrongful death suit?

In Mississippi, the following parties are able to bring a wrongful death claim:

  • The surviving spouse of the victim
  • The child or children of the victim
  • The surviving parent of the victim
  • The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
  • Siblings of the deceased individual

When a surviving spouse of the car or truck accident victim brings a wrongful death suit to court, the damages will be split equally between the surviving spouse and the children.  If there is no surviving spouse or children, surviving parents or siblings of the victim may bring the claim and split any damages awarded.

  1. What damages can I receive in a wrongful death suit?

Damages stemming from a wrongful death claim in Mississippi will be paid either directly to the beneficiaries or to the estate, depending upon the category of loss.

Damages paid to the estate include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses, including emergency care, incurred prior to death
  • Payments for any destroyed or damaged property

Damages paid to the beneficiaries include:

  • Pain and suffering incurred as a result of the loss of the relative
  • Loss of companionship and society of the victim
  • Lost wages and benefits that the deceased would have earned if he or she had lied
  1. When do I need to file a wrongful death action?

In most wrongful death actions, the victim’s family will have three years from the date of the death to file the suit.  If the victim was killed as a result of an intentional act, the time line is one year from the date of death.

Barrett Law PLLC: Assisting Your Family in a Wrongful Death Suit Following the Tragic Loss of a Loved One  

Facing the loss of a loved one due to a negligent driver is devastating and often leaves family members in a state of shock and dismay.  The Mississippi Wrongful Death Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC understand the tremendous pain experienced by loved ones following a fatal car or truck accident.  When you contact our office, we will assist you through the intricate and complex process of pursuing wrongful death benefits.  Our aggressive, dedicated, and highly skilled attorneys will fight for your family’s recovery, as we have done for others like you for over 75 years.  While we cannot heal the pain of your loss, we can provide you with justice and ease the financial burden.  Call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys.

Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorneys Explore Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Mississippi is home to an alarming number of uninsured motorists.  Close to one in three drivers in Mississippi do not have automobile liability insurance.  This number is twofold the national average of one in six uninsured drivers.  To make matters even worse, over half of all drivers only carry the minimum amount of insurance required in the state.  This means that in the event you are involved in an accident, the insurance company will only cover $25,000 towards your injuries.  This number is far less than needed to recover the medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of income involved in any serious accident.  In light of these statistics, there is a significant chance that in your lifetime, you will be involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Some states require drivers carry a minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage, but Mississippi is not presently one of them.  The following is a list of reasons why you should consider obtaining or increasing your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as soon as possible:

  • The rate of uninsured/underinsured motorists is rising:  Mississippi is already home to an alarming number of uninsured and underinsured motorists, but this rate is expected to increase in coming years as jobless rates remain high and more and more families cannot afford the expense of car insurance premiums.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is affordable:  Adding or increasing your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will often only cost you a couple of dollars per month.  This coverage is among the most affordable.  The minimal cost to obtain this insurance is well worth it in the event you are involved in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver.
  • Pursuing a personal injury claim against the uninsured driver will be expensive:  While purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is very reasonable, the alternative of waiting until you are in an accident with such a driver be costly.  Specifically, if you are injured by an uninsured or minimally insured driver and lack UM/UIM coverage, you will need to file a personal injury claim against the driver seeking compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and the like.  You will need to secure the representation of an attorney that can handle this sometimes complex claim and may be required to outlay expenses in bringing the claim to resolution.
  • Collecting from an uninsured/underinsured motorist can prove difficult:  Even when you pursue your personal injury claim against the at-fault, uninsured driver to the fullest extent, there is no guarantee you will be able to collect damages.  Often, those without car insurance have limited income and means, making it difficult to collect.  This does not mean all hope is lost if you do not have UM/UIM insurance and are involved in an accident, but it is easier as a preventative measure to obtain this vital coverage.

Barrett Law PLLC: Mississippi Uninsured/Underinsured Automobile Accident Attorneys Ensuring You Obtain the Compensation You Deserve  

The high rate of uninsured and underinsured drivers across Mississippi is cause for serious concern.  All Mississippi drivers are at risk of being involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.  Being involved in such an accident often leaves victims feeling helpless and confused as to how they can recover.  The Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC are available to advise you on your options in the event you have been involved in an accident with a driver who lacks insurance or holds only a minimal policy.  While obtaining a full recovery in this scenario can be difficult, it is possible with the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney.  Call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation with one of our exemplary automobile accident attorneys.

Mississippi Qui Tam Attorneys Discuss Student Aid Fraud

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Whistleblower actions filed under the False Claims Act assist the government in stopping fraud in connection with federal student loans and grant, referred to collectively as “student aid,” received by for-profit schools, such as vocational, trade, or technical colleges.  Student aid whistleblowers are usually current or former employees of the schools who come forward to assist the federal government in uncovering and putting a stop to fraudulent activity through the filing of qui tam lawsuits under the False Claims Act.

Whistleblowers, referred to as “relators,” who file under the False Claims Act can recover an award of between 15% and 30% of the government’s total recovery for claims that expose fraud occurring in connection with the receipt of federal monies, including student aid.

In the last decade, enrollment and tuition prices at for-profit educational institutions have increased dramatically.  Between 2009 and 2010, for-profit schools received $32 billion in federal student aid funding.  This comprises 25 percent of all federal student aid disbursed by the Department of Education through the Higher Education Act.  The majority of student aid comes in the form of Stafford loans, Pell Grants, and GradPlus loans.  Along with this influx of federal monies has come an increase in scrutiny by both federal and Mississippi state officials who question whether the tax dollars being pumped into these schools are justified by the education provided to students.

In 2011, a monumental whistleblower action was filed against one of the largest for-profit colleges.  The suit resulted in the recovery of $78.5 million on behalf of the government, and a substantial award to the brave whistleblower.  Some violations that have recently gained government support include:

  • Enrolling ineligible students;
  • Tying employee compensation to student enrollment figures;
  • Receiving more than 90 percent of the school’s funding from federal student aid;
  • Misrepresenting job placement rates of graduates;
  • Continuing to enroll students who should have been dismissed due to poor grades or attendance.

New federal and state regulations have recently been enacted and the number of claims filed by whistleblowers against for-profit schools and colleges will likely increase in the future.  Some potential claims may include:

  • Inaccurate reporting of attendance, graduation, and student employment data;
  • Deceptive recruitment or marketing practices;
  • Falsifying student information to qualify for student aid;
  • Inaccurate reporting of private loans, discounts, or rebates provided to students.

Anyone considering filling a qui tam action under the False Claims Act will need an experienced attorney to represent them.  Your attorney will guide you through the often complex qui tam procedure and assist you in filing your action.  Your attorney will ensure you do not experience illegal retaliation for your actions, and see that you receive the whistleblower award you deserve for bringing the fraudulent activity to light.

Barrett Law PLLC: Protecting Schools, Colleges, Universities, and the Public Through Student Aid Fraud Actions

Whistleblower actions filed under the False Claims Act can prove instrumental in helping the government stop fraud in connection with federal student loans and grants.  Whistleblowers who file Qui Tam lawsuits under this act can also receive considerable compensation.  The renowned Mississippi Qui Tam Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC have over 75 years of experience guiding brave whistleblowers through the filing of educational fraud based qui tam actions.  Our experienced attorneys have the drive, knowledge, and exceptional skill to successfully bring any qui tam action.  At Barrett Law PLLC, we offer a free consultation to all new clients and operate on a contingency fee basis.  For representation by a team of celebrated whistleblower attorneys, call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys Discuss the Causes of Truck Accidents

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

The rate of serious truck accidents across Mississippi and much of the nation has left many safety experts and concerned drivers wondering what is behind the increasing accident rates and what we can do to increase truck safety.  CNBC recently aired an investigative report exploring the trucking industry and the many safety concerns surrounding it.  The report unveiled an alarming 18 percent rise in the rate of fatal truck accidents between 2009 and 2012.  This increase in accidents comes despite overall improvements in driver safety.  According to the CNBC report, there are a number of reasons why commercial truck accidents continue to occur, including:

  1. Lack of Safety Technology

In recent years, a number of truck safety devices have been developed in an effort to increase overall safety in the industry.  Some of these technologies come at minimal additional expense.  Despite these inexpensive advances, only 10 percent of all commercial trucks use safety technology.  Technologies like the automatic braking systems can assist trucks in stopping on time when another vehicle comes too close.  Lane departure warning systems can help ensure truckers stay safely in their lanes.  These technologies are readily available, yet underutilized in the industry.  Other technologies are poised to release in the future, including driverless trucks.  When these high tech options become available to the public, the rate of truck accidents could decrease significantly.

  1. Repeat Offenders

Federal and state trucking safety regulations are intended to prevent truck accidents in Mississippi and elsewhere across the country, but enforcing these rules and preventing unsafe drivers and trucks from using the roadways is more difficult than many realize.  According to a CNBC investigative report, up to 20 percent of all commercial trucks inspected in 2012 were considered unsafe to be on the roads due to service violations, including poor tires and brakes.  This equates to over two million unsafe trucks on the road any given day.  In addition, about five percent of drivers inspected had serious violations that should have prevented them from driving.  Approximately 170,000 unsafe drivers remain on the roadways.

  1. Chameleon Carriers

Linked to the problem of repeat offenders is the troubling existence of so-called chameleon carriers.  The phrase chameleon carrier is used to describe trucking companies that change their names in order to dodge legal troubles and lawsuits stemming from rule violations.  According to CNBC’s investigative report, these ever changing companies often hire unsafe drivers and are lax on safety policies.  In fact, in their investigations, CNBC uncovered at least one company who hired a driver with a history of hitting a pedestrian and elicit drug use.  The company changed its name and continued to allow the driver to operate one of its vehicles.  Due to overall under-regulation in the trucking industry, it is difficult to crack down on these chameleon carriers.  As such, they continue to fly under the radar, disappearing and reappearing when necessary, all while posing a substantial safety risk to the public.

Barrett Law PLLC: Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys Dedicated to Pursuing Victim Rights

The troubling increase in the rate of truck accidents across Mississippi and much of the U.S. has led many safety experts desperate to uncover ways of preventing such accidents.  The Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC are alarmed by the rising rate of truck accidents and will do all we can to hold negligent truck drivers accountable for the injuries and deaths they cause.  At Barrett Law PLLC, our attorneys have the passion, experience, and knowledge to obtain the results you desire.  Call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation with one of our seasoned truck accident attorneys.