Archive for September, 2017

Deepwater Horizon Settlement Types

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has had a lasting impact on people and wildlife throughout the Gulf. Among other things, the disaster reduced fish populations, led to lung disease in dolphins and might have caused permanent damage to the ecosystem. Fisheries and businesses that depend on tourism were hit hard by the spill, and the initial spill costs 11 workers their lives.

BP was ruled to have been “grossly negligent” in its actions leading up to the spill. The company was exposed as having had a practice of cutting corners to reduce its costs and increase its profits, exhibiting a careless attitude regarding the safety of their workers, the public, and the environment.

As a result of BP’s actions, the company was hit with the biggest fine in history. In addition to the fine, BP has to pay damages to many of the people impacted by the spill.

Medical settlements

Many individuals were physically injured by the BP oil spill. The people affected include those who lived in the area during 2010 and workers who assisted in cleaning up areas that suffered as a result of the spill. People who were physically harmed were eligible to collect compensation from the settlement that was agreed to following a class action suit against BP. In order to recover from the BP Medical Benefits Settlement, the person must have suffered from an acute medical problem, or be suffering from a chronic medical condition as a result of their exposure to the oil spilled or related chemicals.

Economic and Property Damage Settlements

In addition to physical harm, the BP oil spill caused financial and property damage to a great deal of people and businesses in the states that were impacted. The fishing industry, tourism, and real estate industries suffered great losses as a result of the oil spill. The settlement pays claims related to seafood businesses, economic losses, and damage to vessels, damages to coastal property and to property sales.

Appeals of Payouts

BP is bound by their settlement to make payouts to those individuals and businesses that qualify for compensation. However, the language in the settlement agreement allows for BP to appeal claims that are worth at least $25,000. BP has successfully overturned some rulings, meaning that the party that had been determined to qualify for a payout ended up recovering nothing after the appeal.

The settlement agreement also allows for individuals who are denied benefits, or who receive payouts lower than they believe are owed to them to file an appeal.

If you are faced with your settlement being appealed by BP, or if you feel that your claim was wrongfully denied or underpaid, you should speak with an attorney. Attorneys familiar with the BP settlement will know what is expected from you, and how to present the best argument on your behalf. If you suffered harm as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, there is a lot at stake, and it is important to recover the compensation that you are entitled to.  Contact the seasoned Mississippi BP Oil Spill Attorney at Barrett Law, PLLC today at (800) 707-9577 to learn more about how the firm can help you.

Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyer Discusses The False Claims Act and Whistleblowers

Friday, September 29th, 2017

A whistleblower is a person who exposes his or her employer of engaging in conduct that is illegal or harmful to the public. Reporting the illegal conduct of one’s own employer can be frightening, and can have consequences. In order to encourage people to come forward when they have incriminating information about their employers, there are certain laws that protect whistleblowers. If a whistleblower is reporting fraudulent acts taken against the United States government, the False Claims Act can be used to both protect and reward the whistleblower.

What is the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act, also referred to as “Lincoln’s Law,” has existed since 1863, when it was enacted to combat fraudulent acts committed against the Federal Government. The law allows an individual to sue on behalf of the government in what is called a “qui tam” action.

What types of violations are included under the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act can be used to sue individuals who falsify records or make false statements in order to either get money paid to them from the government that they are not actually owed, or to avoid paying all or some of the money that they owe to the government. Additionally, if a person has temporary possession of something that is government property, and fails to return the property in its entirety, they can be sued under the False Claims Act. One of the most common areas in which people commit violations of the False Claims Act is in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. For example, healthcare facilities might bill Medicare for services that were never actually provided to the patient, or that were completely unnecessary.

What does the whistleblower get in return for filing the claim?

When a whistleblower files a “qui tam” action, he or she has the possibility to recover an award if the claim is successful. While the act originally allowed whistleblowers to collect 50% of the damages, it has since been reduced to between 15 and 30%. In some cases, whistleblowers are also protected from retaliation. The False Claims Act might require that an employee who was fired for their actions be reinstated, receive double back pay, and damages for the cost of litigating the claim, and attorney fees.

How does a “qui tam” action take place?

In a “qui tam” action, the individual reporting the violations files a suit against the violating party in Federal Court. When the suit is first filed, only the person filing the suit, referred to as the “relator,” and the government will know what the claim is about. It is then up to the government to decide whether or not to take over the claim. If the government does not take over the claim, then the relator may proceed with the case themselves. If the government does take over the claim and is successful, the relator will receive an award equal to 15-25% of what the government recovers. I the relator continues after the government chose not to intervene, then he or she can collect up to 30% of the award.

If you are in the position to report fraud on behalf on your employer, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced attorney. There is a lot at stake in these cases, and an attorney can help you figure out the safest course of action to take given the circumstances that you are facing.  Contact Barrett Law PLLC today at (800) 707-9577 to learn more about how our seasoned Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyer can make a difference for you.

Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Personal injury lawsuits result from a variety of circumstances in which an individual is injured as the result of another person’s actions. Car accidents, medical malpractice and slip and falls are some common types of personal injury claims. If another driver causes your injuries, you can hold them liable, if a shop leaves their floors slippery after a spill and you fall suffering injuries, the store can be held liable, and if your doctor gives you the wrong prescription, causing you injury, they can be held liable.

However, when the party that would be liable for your injury is your employer, you might find yourself unable to pursue compensation in a personal injury claim. This is because of workers’ compensation.

What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation insurance must be held by most employers. If an employee is injured at work, or while completing a work-related task, then that person will be compensated for his or her injuries through workers compensation. The employee cannot file a lawsuit against his or her employer, even if the employer was negligent. This protects the employer from being sued. However, employees can benefit from workers’ compensation too because they can usually recover benefits even if they caused their injury through their own negligence. So if your employer left a floor wet and slippery with no notice to you, and you fell and were injured, you would not be able to file a lawsuit against them for negligence. On the other hand, if you washed the floor at work, and slipped where you just washed and suffered an injury, you would still be able to collect workers’ compensation, even though you were the person who caused your injury.

What does workers’ compensation cover?

Workers’ compensation covers the medical expenses of a work-related injury. It also covers a portion of an employee’s lost wages. Unlike personal injury lawsuits though, an employee who suffered a work-related injury cannot collect damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress. The amount of compensation an employee receives from workers’ compensation is often less than they would recover in a successful legal claim against someone for negligence.

Are there times when workers’ compensation will not apply?

Not every employee is covered by workers compensation. Some very small businesses and certain industries are not covered. Additionally, if your employer intentionally injured you, then you will likely have the ability to file a suit rather than rely on workers’ compensation.

It is also possible for you to forfeit your right to workers’ compensation through your own actions. For instance, if you were to be injured as the result of a fist fight you started with a co-worker or were hurt while committing a crime at work, you would lose your ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits.

If you suffered a work-related injury, there is a good chance that you will be able to recover through a workers’ compensation program. Unfortunately, even some legitimate workers’ compensation claims end up being denied for a multitude of reasons. If you are attempting to collect workers’ compensation, contact a seasoned Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorney at Barrett Law PLLC at (800) 707-9577 to discuss your claim.


Mississippi Car Accident Lawyer Discusses Negligent Driving

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Car accidents are, unfortunately, extremely common. It is estimated that most people will have around three or four car accidents in their lifetimes. The vast majority of car accidents are not the result of intentional behavior, or faulty equipment, but rather, involve someone doing something careless. It is easy to become complacent while driving, and think that we can just make that one phone call, or take a quick look to see who that text was from. However, when these types of behaviors lead to a car accident that one text can lead to a driver being referred to as “negligent.” Negligence is the legal basis for many personal injury claims. But what exactly makes a person negligent?

Negligence defined

When we talk about someone having been negligent we mean that they failed to exhibit the “level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” So if you were in your car and rear-ended by a driver who was looking at their phone, the other driver was likely negligent. If you were in an accident caused because the other driver suffered a stroke and rear-ended you, then the other driver was probably not negligent. This is because the first driver did something a reasonably prudent or cautious person would not do when they took their eyes off of the road to look at their phone, while in the second example, the driver who suffered a stroke likely did nothing wrong, but had an unpredictable physical problem that prevented them from operating their vehicle safely.

Making a case for negligence

If a person wishes to make a case against another driver for negligence, they must be able to show four things.

  • A legal duty was owed to the injured person
  • The defendant breached their duty
  • The person suing, or plaintiff, was injured
  • The injury was caused by the defendant’s breach of their duty

When it comes to car accidents, showing that a duty was owed to the injured party is pretty simple. A driver owes a legal duty to everyone else on the road, passengers in their own car and pedestrians. This is different from some other types of personal injury claims, such as medical malpractice, where a doctor only owes a duty to his or her patients.

A breach of duty occurs when someone does something that is not prudent. For instance, texting and driving or driving drunk.

In order to make a case against another driver for negligence, the person suing must be able to show that they were injured. This can mean physical injury, but can also include property damage, such as a car that has been totaled as a result of the accident.

Finally, the injury and the breach of duty must be causally linked. If someone rear-ended you while you were stuck at a red light causing you to suffer severe whiplash, and they were texting at the time of the accident, then they breached a duty that they owed you, and you were injured. However, if they were stopped at the time of the accident too, and their car jolted forward as the result of a mechanical defect, then the fact that they were texting would not have been causally linked to the injuries that you suffered, and there would not be a case for negligence.

If you were injured in a car accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your claim.  Contact Barrett Law PLLC to speak with our seasoned Mississippi Car Accident Lawyer today at (800) 707-9577.


Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyer Discusses How to Estimate the Value of your Car Accident Claim

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Most car accidents are the result of someone driving negligently. If you suffer an injury in a car accident that was the result of someone else’s negligent driving, then the other driver is liable to you for damages. It is fairly common for insurance companies to offer settlements to injured people, but the offers are often calculated to be less than a person might recover in a lawsuit.

If you were harmed in a car accident, you may wonder what your claim is worth. Of course, every claim is different, so your best bet is to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in order to have your claim assessed, but understanding the factors that impact the amount of damages available to you can help you work through the process with some sense of what to expect.

Medical costs related to any injuries

One of the more obvious expenses resulting from a car accident is the cost of medical care. There could be bills from a visit to the emergency room, but there could also be surgeries and rehabilitation costs. In addition to costs for medical care already provided, you might also need to estimate the future medical costs that will likely arise as a result of any injuries. Some types of injuries can require physical therapy and other treatments for months or even years, and in the case of severe accidents, injuries might lead to the need for medical care, equipment or even caregivers for the rest of the injured person’s life. The damages from medical bills can, therefore, be extremely high.

Missed wages

If your injury caused you to miss work, and therefore prevented you from earning money that you otherwise would have earned, you should be compensated for those lost wages. If you will continue to miss work in the future as a result of the injury, you should estimate the impact on your future earnings and include this as well.

Pain and suffering

Non-economic costs of the accident, such as your pain and suffering and emotional distress are compensated as well. These damages are often tricky to determine. Additionally, it is important to remember that Mississippi currently has a cap on non-economic damages of one million dollars.

Punitive Damages

In some cases, when the defendant acted in an extremely wrongful way, the court will award punitive damages. These are meant to punish the defendant, and not to compensate the plaintiff.

Property damage

In addition to your bodily injuries, damage to your vehicle should be considered in your estimate of damages.

Reductions for your own negligence

In Mississippi, if your own negligence was partially to blame for the accident that you were injured in, you can still collect damages from the other driver who was also negligent. However, your damages will be reduced based on your percentage of the blame. For instance, if you were found to be 20% responsible for the accident, and the other driver was 80% responsible, you will only be able to collect 80% of the damages. This means that if you suffered $100,000 in damages, you could collect $80,000 from the other driver.

Every accident is unique, so it is important to consult with an experienced attorney in order to get the best advice on how to proceed with your claim, and what you can expect to recover as a result of the harm that you suffered as a result of the accident.  Contact the seasoned Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyer at Barrett Law PLLC today at (800) 707-9577 to learn more about how he can make a difference for you.

Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyer Discusses Environmental Whistleblowers

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Most federal environmental laws were enacted between the 1960’s and 1980’s, although statutes designed to protect the environment, including waterways and harbors have existed for much longer. It is important to remember that many of these laws are not just intended to protect wildlife, but are designed to protect people from being exposed to contaminated drinking water, dangerous chemicals, and polluted air. When companies violate environmental laws, they could be exposing us all too serious health hazards.

In many cases, a violation of an environmental protection law will only be discovered by an employee of the violating company. This is why the environmental statutes provide whistleblower protections to employees who report conduct that violates the law.

Federal Environmental Statutes

There are seven federal statutes that designed to protect the environment, and that provide whistleblower protections. These are:

  • The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). This law sometimes referred to as the “Superfund Law,” creates regulations for disposing of and removing hazardous waste.
  • The Energy Reorganization Act, which is concerned with safety issues related to nuclear
  • The Water Pollution Control Act (WPCA, often called the “Clean Water Act”), which regulates water pollutants, discharge into waterways and creates standards for water quality.
  • The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) set standards for drinking water quality and protects the public supply of drinking water.
  • The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) allows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to place restrictions on chemicals and to set testing, reporting and recordkeeping requirements for chemicals.
  • The Clean Air Act allows the EPA to regulate air emissions and set air quality standards in order to protect the public from hazardous air pollution.
  • The Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA) sets regulations for the disposal and handling of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste.

When a Whistleblower is protected

Among other things, employees are protected when they report violations of the law to the EPA, report to a supervisor concerning the violation, report to a media outlet, or refuse to partake in the illegal activity. The protections apply to formal employees but can extend even to independent contractors.

If an employee reports a suspected violation but turns out to be mistaken, that employee can still be covered by whistleblower protections. This is because the laws are designed to encourage people to speak out, and not to make people feel as though they have to conduct their own investigation before reporting the violation.

It is possible to engage in activities that would not be considered protected. For instance, if an employee engaged in a violent encounter with his or her supervisor over the violation occurring, and subsequently loses his or her job, the protections might not apply.

What the laws protect against

Employees are protected from “adverse actions” that are taken in retaliation for their reporting of a violation. Thus if an employee is fired, demoted, receives a pay cut or is looked over for a promotion as a result of their reporting of the violation, they can file a complaint with OSHA.

Of course, the employee will have to show a causal relationship between the adverse action and the whistleblowing activity. It is obviously unlikely that an employee receives a letter stating that they are being terminated because they reported the company to the EPA though, so inferences can be made. If you received positive work reviews for three years, and then were terminated shortly after speaking out about a violation, that would be evidence that the firing was connected to your status as a whistleblower.

Contact Barrett Law PLLC today

To learn more about how the seasoned Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyer at Barrett Law PLLC can help you, contact the firm at (800) 707-9577 today.

Mississippi Car Accident Lawyer Discusses Understanding the Car Accident Lawsuit Process

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Mississippi Car Accident Lawyer Discusses Understanding the Car Accident Lawsuit Process

Chances are, you either drive or ride in a car on a regular basis. No matter how careful we might be behind the wheel, there is always a chance that we could find ourselves involved in an automobile accident. Getting into a car accident can be confusing, disorienting or downright overwhelming. If you find yourself trying to work through the aftermath of a car accident, and wondering where any legal claims might lead, it will help you to become familiar with some of the basic stages of a car accident claim.

The initial collision or accident

In the moments following a car accident, we are often in a state of disbelief. Your first priority should be determining if anyone involved needs medical attention, and ensuring that they receive that attention if it is required. If possible, avoid making statements regarding your own injuries or lack of injuries. It is not uncommon for injuries from a car accident to appear later in the day, or in the following days. In the moments after the shock of the accident we have adrenaline coursing and likely are not in the best position to fairly assess whether we incurred any harm. If you insist that you are fine, this could be documented and brought up at a later time to refute your claim for damages, when in reality, you were not thinking straight when you expressed that you were uninjured.

See a doctor

If you come to realize after the accident that you actually were injured, when you initially thought that you were not, it is important to see a doctor right away. Your doctor will make a record of the injuries that you suffered. If you postpone going to the doctor, your hesitation could be interpreted by others as evidence that your injuries were not too severe.

Use caution speaking with insurance companies

Insurance companies frequently offer settlements early on in claims, but these settlements are often for amounts far below what you could collect if you filed a lawsuit or had an attorney negotiate a settlement for you. Additionally, insurance companies might use things that you say to them against you. You do not have to be too chatty with them.

It is a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney before agreeing to anything. An attorney will be able to tell you how to handle the insurance company and can give you some idea of what you should be expecting in terms of a settlement. In this way, your attorney might be able to prevent you from making statements or agreeing to things that might hurt your ability to collect compensation.

Filing a lawsuit

If early negotiations are unsuccessful, you may end up having to file a lawsuit. Your attorney will file a complaint for you. After the lawsuit is filed, “discovery” will start. This means that important documents and other information about your claim will be gathered and furnished to both sides and you will likely be asked to give a “deposition,” which is basically a formal interview in which you will be under oath.

More often than not, your claim will end up settling. This means you and your attorney will agree to end your claim for a certain amount of compensation.


Most claims will never make it to trial, but if yours does, this will involve the presentation of the facts of your case in front of a judge and possibly a jury. The judge or jury will determine whether the defendant is liable and if he or she is liable, then an amount of damages will be determined. Contact the Mississippi Car Accident Lawyer at Barrett Law PLLC today at (800) 707-9577 to learn more about your legal options.

Car Accidents and Damages in Mississippi

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Car accidents impact thousands of people in the United States every day. If you were in a car accident and suffered an injury, you might be able to collect compensation. If the accident was caused by another person’s negligence, or another person’s negligence contributed to the cause of the accident, then that other person could be liable to you for your injuries.

What are damages?

In a lawsuit, the person who is suing someone is called the “plaintiff,” and the person being sued is the “defendant.” When the case is a personal injury claim the plaintiff is typically seeking monetary compensation because the defendant caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries. The compensation paid to a successful plaintiff in a lawsuit is referred to as “damages.”

Economic damages

Damages come in several different types. First, there are economic damages. Economic damages compensate a plaintiff for an actual financial harm that resulted as a result of the injuries incurred. This means things like medical bills, lost wages and the cost of rehabilitation are all economic damages. While some of these things can be proven with great accuracy through medical records and bills or other forms of proof, some level of estimation often comes into play with economic damages as well. For instance, you might have missed several weeks of work and accrued medical bills at the time of the lawsuit, but you might also be facing future surgeries as a result of your injury, or you may not be able to return to the same type of work as you did prior to the accident. In these cases, an estimate of what you lost will be made in order to come to a number of damages.

Non-economic damages

Of course, just paying you for the time that the plaintiff missed from work, and the medical bills he or she accrued will not fully compensate that person for things like the pain and discomfort that he or she suffered, or the emotional distress that was caused by the accident. This is why courts often award non-economic damages for things like pain and suffering and emotional distress. Coming to a number for this type of compensation is a bit more difficult than it is in determining economic damages where there is a way to derive a reasonable estimate of what the plaintiff actually lost.

Punitive damages

Punitive damages are unlike the other two forms of damages in that they are not used as a way to compensate the plaintiff, but are instead meant to punish the defendant. Whether or not punitive damages are awarded does not depend therefore on the severity of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff, but rather on how egregiously the defendant acted. In Mississippi, a plaintiff must show “clear and convincing” evidence of the defendant’s “actual malice, gross negligence which evidences a willful, wanton or reckless disregard to the safety of others,” or that the defendant “committed actual fraud” if he or she is to recover punitive damages.

If you were injured in a car accident, you should contact an experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyer to discuss your claim. Contact Barrett Law PLLC at (800) 707-9577 today to learn more about how the firm can make a difference for you.


Potential Whistleblowers, Proceed with Caution, Warns Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyer

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Potential Whistleblowers, Proceed with Caution, Warns Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyer

Some of the most famous whistleblowers have changed the course of history by bringing down powerful political figures, exposing violations of human rights and sending corporations into bankruptcy. While most whistleblowers do not become household names, there are often violations of ethics and laws that would go unchecked and unpunished if not for people willing to risk themselves to stop a wrongful practice from continuing.

Without whistleblowers, corporations could violate safety and environmental regulations, and defraud customers, and governments could violate people’s rights and cheat our democracy. The importance of whistleblowers is recognized by many laws and statutes that are designed to protect whistleblowers from workplace retaliation. Without protections, many people would be reluctant to expose their employers because they would fear losing their job, being demoted or not being promoted when they deserved to be.

Even though whistleblowers are protected, it is possible that a potential whistleblower could go about attempting to expose his or her employer in a way that would be a legal violation in and of itself. It is important that whistleblowers speak out, but they should do so in ways that protect themselves.


If you believe you are in the position to be a whistleblower, you probably have some evidence of wrongdoing. Perhaps you have emails or other documentation of the things that you believe amount to a violation. On the other hand, you might wish to find more evidence to support your case before you come forward. In attempting to collect evidence of your employer’s violations, you could end up breaking the law yourself. If you video, record, or photograph co-workers without their knowledge, this could get you into trouble in some instances. Additionally, if you signed a confidentiality agreement with your employer, you should be careful that you are not violating that agreement before you have done everything to protect yourself. At the same time, you could find yourself in trouble for partaking in the illegal actions of your employer, even if you are only doing so in order to get more evidence.

Your best bet is to speak with a whistleblower attorney in order to determine whether you should seek more evidence, and what actions you can and cannot take in order to collect more evidence.

Loose lips

Another way you can find yourself in trouble is by speaking casually to friends or colleagues about the violations that are occurring. In these cases, you run the risk of having your intentions exposed to your employer and potentially having some of the evidence disappear before the wrongdoers are caught. It is also possible that someone might decide to expose the violation before you, putting your whistleblower protections at risk. There are also some claims that offer a whistleblower a reward for coming forward. This could entice someone to speak out especially if they believe that you are going to anyway.

If you believe you have witnessed violations of the law that need to be exposed, you should reach out to an experienced whistleblower attorney in order to determine the best and safest course of action for you to take.   Contact the seasoned Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyer at Barrett Law PLLC now at (800) 707-9577 to learn more about your legal options.