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Georgia Personal Injury Law Blog

Feds go after Georgia hospital in False Claims Act lawsuit

On Aug. 8, the federal government filed a lawsuit against a Savannah, Georgia, hospital for its role in an allegedly fraudulent scheme to collect Medicare reimbursements based on referrals from doctors. According to the lawsuit filed in the U. S. District Court at Savannah, the leadership at Memorial Health Inc. recognized that their hospitals revenues were dwindling in 2007. Allegedly, the acting chief executive officer at the time recruited a trio of doctors and paid them higher than average salaries to drive more business to the hospital.

The government has alleged that there was an improper financial relationship that violated the law between the new doctors and the hospital because of their prohibited patient referrals. The lawsuit alleges that the three doctors were paid salaries and given other compensation packages that were well in excess of fair market value.

Former University of Georgia athlete killed in truck accident

Officials at the University of Georgia believe that it was a flat tire that ultimately led to the death of one of their former champion sprinters. According to police, the former UGA athlete had been traveling along Interstate 75 somewhere near Cordele, Georgia, when his vehicle became disabled. It was there in the southbound lane on the night of July 28 that a tractor-trailer struck the young man's vehicle from behind. The impact of the accident through the victim from the vehicle. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Friends of the victim at UGA speculate that the victim was on his way home to Jacksonville, Florida, at the time of the accident. The former sociology major graduated in 2013 after having captured several SEC and NCAA titles in his capacity on the university's track team. In fact, the victim still holds three school records and was on track to become a professional representing American track interests in international competition.

Who can file a whistleblower case in Georgia?

The Georgia Whistleblower Act was designed to fight government waste, fraud and abuse. It protects public employees who disclose such fraudulent or illegal activity in any state entity or program from termination, retaliation or discipline by an employer. As FindLaw notes, Georgia's whistleblower law does not apply to private employees.

State employees employed in the legislative, judicial and executive branches are granted this protection. So are those who work for state agencies, commissions and other entities.

Firefighter equipment accidents may spark class action lawsuit

Georgia residents expect that firefighters will have all the tools and equipment required to help rescue them in the event of a fire. Few of us give any thought to whether or not the equipment used by firefighters is safe for their operation and could indirectly hinder them from saving us.

That is exactly what some firefighters are now suggesting after a recent series of accidents involving a ladder truck extension device used on trucks owned by several Atlanta-based firefighting companies. On July 22, three Hall County firefighters suffered injuries during a training exercise in which the ladder attachment bucket failed and caused them to fall 44 feet to the ground. One of the firefighters has since been released from the hospital, but the two others still remain under care.

What is your recourse if your Georgia car is a lemon?

Georgia, like other states, has a "lemon law" to help protect consumers who have purchased a new vehicle that turns out to have mechanical problems or serious defects that cannot be repaired. According to the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection, the primary goal of the law is to mandate vehicle manufacturers to repair defective products. If the problem cannot be fixed, the manufacturer is required to either replace or buy back the vehicle.

Our "Lemon law rights period," according to the Georgia Lemon Law § 10-1-782, is two years or 24,000 miles from the time the original consumer took possession of the vehicle. That's twice the period and mileage of the manufacturer's warranty

Defective product may be at center of fire-fighting recall

Three Atlanta firefighters are still recovering from a July 22 training accident in which a large aerial extension ladder collapsed and fell roughly 40 feet to the ground. All three firefighters are expected to recover; however, one has reportedly undergone surgery. According to a post to a social media site, that firefighter required the installation of rods and screws to secure two broken vertebrae in his back. The social media post suggests that the firefighter may be out for at least three months in recovery.

The accident has both engineers and fire officials scratching their heads as to exactly what happened. The Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services has since issued a statement saying that the manufacturer of the aerial platform, Sutphen Corporation, has since issued a voluntary recall of the devices to prevent further injuries until the situation can be properly assessed. Over 200 fire trucks were included in that recall. The Hall County Fire Chief says that he believes the problem is due to a mechanical failure. He added that it was fortunate for the accident to have occurred during a training exercise rather than in a real-world situation.

Lawsuit highlights link between fatigue and truck accidents

The high-profile June 2014 accident in which a Wal-Mart truck struck a vehicle carrying comedian Tracy Morgan and subsequent lawsuit against the retail giant have spotlighted the issue of truck driver fatigue. The 35-year-old Georgia truck driver, according to authorities, had not slept for at least a day prior to the crash that killed another comedian.

Morgan and two others were injured in the truck accident accused Wal-Mart in their suit of reckless conduct and negligence because the truck driver had a 700-mile commute from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia, to Wal-Mart's Delaware facility. That was before his shift even began. The suit notes that Wal-Mart has a minimum of nine facilities in Georgia plus others closer to the driver's home from which he could have begun his shift.

Veterans Affairs chiefs discuss Georgia whistleblower issues

On July 10, the acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs spoke out about problems at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. This comes on the heels of the revelation that VA hospitals across the nation have been cooking the books regarding patient wait times and other problems. Sloan Gibson, the acting chief, says that most of the problems facing the Augusta, Georgia, facility could be attributed to a shortage of key medical professionals. In his opinion, the lack of doctors and nurses created an environment where there was more work. The heavy caseload was reflected in increased job stress and high turnover.

The director highlighted the facility's understaffing by pointing out that the hospital's nursing staff lists that it has 782 full-time positions, which indicates that it has a shortage of 151 vacant nursing positions. In fact, the hospital director admits that they are short 27 physician positions including those of chief of staff and chief of surgery.

We know distracted driving causes auto accidents but still do it

We've discussed accidents caused here in Georgia and around the country by drunk and distracted drivers on numerous occasions. Most everyone recognizes the potential dangers. However, too many people still think they can do it. That's what a recent Harris poll found.

In the poll of just over 2,000 adults, people admitted to consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel, as well as engaging in activities including texting and talking on a cellphone.

According to the survey results at the Harris Interactive website, some also admitted to posting to social media or looking something up on a device. Other activities, including personal grooming and reading newspapers, magazine and books also made the list.

The study broke down the results of each question by generation to show the differing responses among Millennials, Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers and Matures (those 68 and over).

Insurance fraud case may give rise to class action lawsuit

It happens to nearly all of us every month; the dreaded insurance bill arrives in the mail. Whether it's for your home, car or for your health, having insurance is an absolute necessity in today's world. Although we hate paying for it, not having insurance coverage when something happens is an even more unpleasant experience.

Authorities with the Georgia Insurance Commission say that is just what happened when one woman decided to run her own insurance scam. According to the Commissioner, the insurance commission has charged a 41-year-old woman with seven counts of insurance fraud and three counts of forgery for her role in an elaborate insurance scam. An investigation into the woman's activities found that while working for the ABC insurance agency in Eastman, Georgia, the defendant allegedly bilked her clients out of $16,000.

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