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FAQs

Personal Injury FAQ’s

If you are to blame for an accident, your liability insurance will pay the other driver for property damage and personal injuries up to your policy’s limits. If you are not at fault, the other driver’s liability insurance pays for your car damage and personal injuries.
You should immediately consult your medical provider regarding any pain, discomfort or possible injuries from the accident, even if you think they may be only minor injuries. Even if you did not complain of injuries at the scene of the car accident, if you were injured in the accident from someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to payment of your medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, and emotional distress. You should consult an attorney at Younce & Vtipil to discuss whether you need representation on your claim.
Damage caused by improper maintenance or repair of roads and highways may be the cause of damage to your vehicle. Generally, responsibility lies with the government agency responsible for this maintenance. If it was a pothole in a city street, the city may be responsible.
No. Tell the insurance company that you will get back to them. In the meantime, contact an attorney at Younce & Vtipil immediately. An insurance company may offer a minimal amount of money in return for your signature stating that you will not sue them. Never take an insurance check without first consulting an attorney.
A claim for injuries is usually based upon carelessness or negligence. In worse case scenarios, it is based on an intentional or reckless act. The three categories of issues that typically arise in a tort claim after an automobile accident are:
  • Liability – who is at fault and to what degree.
  • Damages – injuries or losses that were caused by the accident.
  • Insurance Coverage – whether the insurance company provides coverage to the at fault party.
If you have been injured, you will likely have medical bills from physicians, hospitals, physical therapists, and other health care providers. Those bills will be in your name and will usually be sent to your address. You are primarily responsible for paying your bills, regardless of the cause of your injuries. The at-fault person’s liability insurance carrier is responsible for paying you reasonable compensation for damages incurred, which includes medical bills, but the insurance carrier is not responsible for paying your doctors, hospitals, and other providers. Sometimes the amount the insurance company is willing to pay is far less than the actual amount you owe. You need an attorney who fill fight for your rights with the insurance companies to ensure that you are fully compensated. Contact Younce & Vtipil today to discuss your course of action.
Almost always, yes. The law states that you must maintain a safe distance to be able to stop safely if a car stops in front of you.
The most common types of tractor trailer accidents are:
  • Head on collisions
  • Rear end collisions
  • Broadside collisions
  • Center lane crossover
  • Lane change collisions
  • Jack-knifed trucks
  • Loss of control of vehicle
  • Hit and Run
Trucking accidents are different from auto accidents in many ways, one of the most serious being the extent of damages and injuries when a truck and an automobile collide. Because big rigs, 18 wheelers and tractor-trailers can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds, a trucking collision can have deadly consequences.
There are unique laws and regulations that are designed specifically to protect motorists from the negligent actions of truck drivers and trucking companies. Federal and state regulations require truckers to have adequate rest to prevent driver fatigue on the highway. There are also other specific rules for trucks including proper loading of the materials the truck is carrying and safety rules on traveling speeds and when passing other vehicles.
Trucking companies are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations concerning equipment and hours of service. Truck drivers are also required to maintain a driver’s log; however the timeframe is limited. Federal regulations require commercial trucks to carry certain levels of insurance coverage, depending on the nature of materials hauled. These regulations protect victims of large truck crashes from truck owners who may not have the financial resources to pay damages out-of-pocket.
In order to get compensation, an attorney will need to show the truck driver failed to use due care in the operation of the truck. Typically, in cases where serious injury has resulted, a plaintiff will have claims for pain and suffering, negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
You need to contact an attorney at Younce & Vtipil as soon as possible. In truck collisions, federal regulations require that certain essential evidence only be maintained for a limited amount of time. For instance, the truck driver’s log may be destroyed after six months if an attorney does not obtain a court order or take other immediate action.
The truck company may not pay your medical bills immediately. However, your own insurance will often contain medical payment provisions to pay for bills ranging from funeral costs to x-rays. It is usually not your best interest to sign a medical release/authorization or to give a statement to the trucking company or any insurance company before contacting an attorney. Contact an attorney at Younce & Vtipil today to discuss your situation and injuries.
Some of the most common causes of trucking accidents include:
  • Lack of training
  • Overloaded trucks
  • Oversized trucks
  • Brake failure/defect
  • Poor driving conditions
  • Driver inexperience
  • Fatigue
  • Speeding
  • Running off the road
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Aggressive driving behavior
  • Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Dangerous or reckless driving
  • Mechanical failure
Anyone who is injured or has had a loved one killed in a truck accident can sue as long as some other person or entity, besides the person suing, is at fault for the accident. This includes adults and children (who can sue through guardians or parents); and even truck drivers if another person or entity was at fault for the accident.
Under federal “hours of service” regulations, which took effect January 2004, interstate commercial drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 consecutive hours or drive after 14 hours on duty until they have had a 10-hour break. In addition, according to federal regulations, commercial truck drivers cannot drive after accruing 60 work hours during a 7-day period or 70 work hours during an 8-day period.
Unless you have a very minor injury, which is rare in truck accident cases, you should retain an attorney at Younce & Vtipil. An experienced truck accident attorney can secure vital evidence before it is destroyed, and can establish liability against any potential defendants to help maximize your damage recovery.
Bring your concerns to the attention of the nursing home. Tell them that you are documenting your concerns about what you have seen and that you will report it. Be sure to follow up on your threat.
The State Department of Health in your area.
No, but you should include all of the following information with your complaint:
  • Name, address, and telephone.
  • Your relationship to the resident in the nursing home.
  • The resident’s full name and reason that he/she is in the home.
  • Times and dates that you observed the problems.
  • Names of staff who may be involved, including those that you have spoken to about your concerns.
  • Any medical records relating to the abuse or an autopsy if death occurred.
If you are not getting satisfactory responses or action from the home, yes you should contact an attorney at Younce & Vtipil. An attorney will investigate the situation in the nursing home and advise you on the laws surrounding the responsibilities of nursing homes.
Talk to any and everyone that you know, so that you can get a referral. Be sure to talk with the medical personnel (doctors, nurses, social workers, etc.) who were involved in the care of your loved one. Be sure, once you have the facilities narrowed, that you request inspection reports for your review. You can get the latest report from the nursing home director. Finally, be sure to visit the home and take note of the cleanliness, staff interactions with residents, activities available, complaints logged and number of staff on duty.
Any of the following types of behavior on the part of the nursing home constitute abuse or neglect:
  • Improper diet
  • Abandonment
  • Willful desertion
  • Physical abuse of any kind
  • Failing to clean dressings or be clothes
  • Bed sores from failure to turn the patient
  • Any other treatment that has, or could, result in physical harm, pain or mental suffering.
A surviving spouse may bring a wrongful death claim. If there is no surviving spouse, the children may bring the death claim. If there is not a surviving spouse or surviving children, the parents of the decedent may pursue the wrongful death claim. Absent a surviving spouse, surviving children, and surviving parents, the administrator of the decedent’s estate can sue on behalf of the estate.
In general terms, a wrongful death claim refers to a cause of action that may be brought by certain family members of a decedent whose death was precipitated by the wrongful conduct of another. The wrongful act that resulted in death may have been intentional, reckless, or negligent. In cases where a dangerous product caused the death, it may not be necessary to show wrongful conduct in order to recover.
Yes, even if the decedent never held a job, they may have contributed in some other way to the family. A good example of such a decedent is a housewife, who contributes services, guidance and nurturing to her family. These contributions are quantifiable as “pecuniary losses” in a wrongful death action.
Yes, in addition to the wrongful death, a decedent’s family may recover damages for the pain and suffering that the decedent endured prior to death.
It depends on whether a person dies as a result of the injuries or from unrelated causes. If a person injured in an accident subsequently dies because of those injuries, that person’s heirs may recover money through a lawsuit. If a person with a personal injury claim dies from unrelated causes, the claim survives in most cases and may be brought by the executor or personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
Normally, the following are recoverable:
  • Expenses associated with the death (medical & funeral);
  • Loss of victim’s anticipated earnings;
  • Pain and suffering; and
  • The loss of care, protection, companionship to the survivors.
Given that wrongful death claims and survival actions generally involve a variety of complex legal issues, the first step is to consult an attorney at Younce & Vtipil. An attorney should be consulted as soon as reasonably possible because there are statutes of limitations and possibly other critical deadlines that may impact the case.
The vast majority of all cases, including wrongful death cases, are settled prior to trial. Some cases are settled prior to the filing of a lawsuit, while others are settled during litigation or even on the steps of the courthouse just before trial. A wrongful death case, if litigated to trial, could last a number of years. One who pursues a wrongful death case should understand from the outset that a quick resolution cannot be guaranteed.

Workplace Injury FAQ’s

This broad category covers everything from small spills in the workplace to the plant explosion in Kinston, N.C., which killed six employees.
Any employer who employs three or more employees.
Report the injury to the employer, in writing, immediately and no later than 30 days. Print out a Form 18, fill it out, sign it, and make two copies. Mail the original Form 18 to: N.C. Industrial Commission
Statistics Section
4334 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4334 Mail the first copy of Form 18 to your employer by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep the receipt. This will be your proof of mailing. Keep the second copy of this Form 18 for your file.
An employee is eligible to receive a “temporary total disability” check each week when completely unable to earn wages as the result of the work-related injury. The employee is eligible to receive total disability benefits until he or she is able to return to work. An employee is not due compensation for the first seven days of lost time unless the period of disability exceeds 21 total days. Therefore, payment for days one through seven is made only after the total disability continues beyond 21 days.
No compensation is due for the first seven days of lost time unless the disability exceeds 21 days. Therefore, the first check will not include payment for days 1-7. Payment for those days will be made should the disability continue beyond 21 days.
You will receive benefits until you are able to return to work.
Total or partial loss of use of a member of the body directly caused by a work-related injury may result in permanent partial disability. The Industrial Commission ultimately determines permanent partial disability based on the impairment ratings of physicians. When there is a permanent impairment to one or more of the parts of the body listed in the Workers’ Compensation Act, the employee may receive a set period of benefits without consideration of the employee’s ability to earn wages. Permanent partial disability benefits are generally based upon a combination of the impairment ratings, the parts of the employee’s body involved, and the employee’s average weekly wage.
There are many issues that may cause disputes between an employee and the employer or its insurance company that require the employee to file for a hearing with the Industrial Commission. In particular, when an employee’s claim is denied, the employee must file for a hearing within two years of the injury date or the ability to receive benefits may be lost. A hearing request is filed with the Industrial Commission by use of Form 33.
If an employee needs to contact the North Carolina Industrial Commission in Raleigh, the phone numbers are 1-800-688-8349 or 1-919-807-2501. The Industrial Commission’s Internet site can also be a helpful resource.
This would likely fall under worker’s compensation laws, as the benefits paid would be from the worker’s compensation insurance afforded by your spouses’ employer.
Those who suffer work related injuries should report them as soon as possible to their employer using the proper forms. A physician should also investigate work-related injuries. Evidence of work related injuries allow the victim to qualify for worker’s compensation and associated benefits. In addition, you may wish to pursue your legal rights with an experienced workplace injury attorney.
Workers’ Compensation law provides benefits to workers who are injured on the job or who suffer an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment.
The benefits under Workers’ Compensation include weekly payments based on a percentage of the employee’s average weekly wage. These payments cover temporary total disability, partial disability, permanent and total disability, and permanent loss of function and disfigurement. Other benefits include:
  • Medical bills
  • Vocational rehabilitation/training
  • Death benefits
  • Lost wages
Repetitive stress injury is the name given to a group of conditions that are caused when too much stress is placed on a joint. Repetitive stress injury happens when the same action is performed repeatedly. Performing the same action over and over can cause pain and swelling in the muscles and tendons. The two most common types of repetitive stress injury are tendinitis and bursitis.
You have the right to be represented by an attorney of your choice concerning your work- related injury. Your attorney will assist you in seeing that your benefits are properly protected. Your employer or your employer’s insurance company will be advised and represented by individuals experienced in Workers’ Compensation cases and you should have an attorney experienced in handling Workers’ Compensation representing you.
Some of the most common work injuries involve:
  • Employee death
  • Head injury
  • Brain injury
  • Skin disease
  • Neck Injuries
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Lung disorders
  • Asbestos
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma
If you are temporarily totally disabled for more than seven days from an on the job injury, weekly benefits should be paid to you at the rate of 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage.

Family Law FAQ’s

Finding the right attorney to assist you with your particular situation and needs begins with finding one that you trust, feel comfortable with and one with which you can clearly communicate issues and concerns. During your consultation, the attorney needs to be able to ask you the right questions and spot potential issues to ensure your rights are fully protected. Good listening skills are another key characteristic you should look for in your attorney. It is extremely important that clients feel that their attorney is listening to them and really hearing their concerns. Before you leave the attorney’s office, you need to be certain that you fully understand their billing practices and how they intend to handle your case. It is a good idea to meet with a few attorneys to be sure you find the right fit for you and your situation.
In order to represent our clients to the best of our ability, it is vital that we are provided with complete, accurate facts concerning each client’s situation. It is important to trust your attorney so that you feel comfortable in making these disclosures. Our firm holds confidentiality in high regard and you can trust that anything you tell anyone in this office is strictly confidential and will not be disclosed without your permission. You should also feel free to discuss the details of your case without fear of judgment. Our firm is here to help you and not pass judgment on any past actions or allegations that have been made in your case.
This is the most commonly asked question by clients and the most difficult one to answer. Each case is different, and as a result the amount spent on attorney’s fees is different. While we can make general estimates of ranges of anticipated fees based on our past experience, you must understand that these estimates are not guarantees. These estimates are for your financial planning purposes and preparation. Our firm charges on an hourly rate basis or a flat fee basis, depending on the type of legal service you are seeking. For claims which seek a judgment of absolute divorce based on one year’s separation and which are not contested, we normally charge a fixed fee. With regard to other claims, we generally charge for our services at an hourly rate, which varies from attorney to attorney. Staff time is also billed at a lower hourly rate. Any specific concerns regarding the fees charged by your attorney should be explained in your legal services contract. You should always contact your attorney if you have questions or concerns about the fee arrangement as soon as possible.
Expenses are about as hard to predict as legal fees, unfortunately, as it depends on the case. If your case is in litigation, you can expect to pay court filing fees that are around $100.00 and service fees that can range from $15.00 to $100.00. If depositions are taken, not only are you paying for your attorney’s time, but you also have expenses related to the court reporter that can range from $300.00 to $600.00. If a psychological evaluation is required related to a child custody matter, this cost can range from $1,500.00 to $6,000.00. Experts are often used related to equitable distribution claims so that if you need your home appraised, for example, that may cost around $300.00. If you need a business appraised, this could cost from $5,000.00 to $10,000.00. You will be responsible for the payment of all these expenses as they are incurred unless you have an agreement otherwise; therefore, it is very important that you are part of the process when determining what expenses you are incurring and if it is is beneficial to you from a cost/benefit standpoint.
It is not ethical for an attorney to represent two people who have interests that are in actual or potential conflict. In cases of separation and divorce, the spouses’ interests are necessarily in actual or potential conflict. As a general rule, we cannot represent you and your spouse. This does not mean that your spouse must hire their own attorney; however, we cannot give your spouse legal advice because we represent our client’s interests. This can limit what questions we can answer for your spouse. If your spouse does not have a lawyer, and wants to meet to discuss any non-legal questions he/she may have and/or to execute your agreement, we can meet with you and your spouse together to do so.
Always notify your attorney of any change of address, telephone number, email address or employment. Be truthful; if you are not, your attorney may not continue to represent you and this may also create undue delay in your case causing unnecessary legal fees and expenses. Handle your financial commitments to your attorney in a prompt and professional manner. Our firm understands that separation can cause significant financial strain. Thus, it is important to us that we keep our clients informed about the amount of funds left in their retainer and when it is about to be depleted. Before you get to that point, we will advise you in writing of the status of your case, your options toward resolution and the related retainer amount to pursue each option. By doing this, our firm hopes to avoid high outstanding balances that cause strain for both you and the firm.
This is a very common question, and we appreciate the importance and gravity of financial issues. Every situation is different and therefore, we prefer to discuss the details of each client’s situation personally in order to offer a tailored plan of action.
The facts surrounding your marriage, divorce, children and property are unique. Although your friends and colleagues may have the best of intentions giving you advice about your case or anecdotes about others who have gone through the process, more often than not you are getting advice that is not accurate and you should be cautious when following advice that is not from your attorney regarding your case. Also, be careful when discussing sensitive details about your case with friends and family as this can often be passed on to other people, which can lead to your spouse finding out about it. This type of action can defeat all of your attorney’s efforts to help you.
You should create a new email account to use to communicate to discuss issues related to separation and you should not use your home computer, or any computer that may be accessible by your spouse. New passwords should be random; do not use passwords, such as children’s birthdays, that can be easily guessed by your spouse. The concern regarding using computers accessible by your spouses arises as a result of the possibility of computer software being installed on a computer without your knowledge to monitor computer use. As a result, you spouse can read your emails or obtain new passwords to email and financial accounts. In addition to concerns regarding “spyware,” your spouse may copy the hard drive of the family computer or a computer to which he or she has access, and recover information you may think has been deleted, but can be recovered by a forensic computer expert. These issues can be more fully discussed at your consultation with your attorney. Using a cell phone on your family plan can give your spouse the opportunity to review itemized billing statements and see to whom you have been calling or texting. You need to get your own cell phone to use that cannot be accessed by your spouse. Prepaid cell phones can be a good option for this purpose.
When separation is imminent, you need a secure place to put funds to live on that cannot be accessed by the other spouse. Open a separate bank account, stop your direct deposits from going into your joint account and close joint accounts. If your paycheck is directly deposited, you will want to change it so you get a hard check to deposit prior to your separation. If your spouse is the bookkeeper of the family, they may notice this change, so it needs to occur as close to the separation as possible to prevent a problem being tipped off to your spouse. You will want to fund your separate account as soon as possible simultaneous with or very soon after the separation. The risk with joint accounts is that your spouse can wipe out all joint accounts with one keystroke now with internet banking. You should also consider canceling or freezing joint debt related accounts, such as credit cards, lines or credit or equity lines, to prevent your spouse from withdrawing funds or taking cash advances that could result in high interest costs, which you may ultimately become responsible for paying. It is important that, as soon as possible, you sit down and make a list of your debts, your expenses, your income and your assets. It is important to determine your net worth so you know what an equitable division of the marital estate will be, and what income you will need to support yourself in the future. In addition, you need to prepare a post-separation budget and set realistic financial goals. Now operating two households on that same amount of income that once funded one household can cause a great deal of financial strain. It may be a good idea to meet with a financial planner to get professional advice as to the best way to manage your money to ensure financial security in the future. You also need to review your credit report to determine the status of your credit and identify any debts you owe that either you were not aware of or were fraudulently incurred.
If you or your spouse own any interest in a business, you need to understand the following:
  • What type of business is it?
  • What interests do you or your spouse holds in the company?
  • How profitable is the business? What is the future potential of the business?
  • Are you are personally liable for any of the business’ debts?
  • Are dividends paid on a regular basis?
If you have access to copies of the business’ tax returns, financial statements or other financial records, etc. The easiest way to hide income from another spouse is through a business. These records are extremely important to obtain as soon as possible.
This issue is very personal and case specific as things like age, maturity, and family dynamics are important considerations. We would recommend that this issue is best addressed after your case and situation have been evaluated by one of our attorneys.
Keeping a journal or calendar can help you take notes on incidents that have occurred with your spouse, such as arguments that may have become heated, specific dates money was withdrawn from joint bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc. If you have children, you can keep a record of when you have custody and when your spouse has custody, when your spouse was late picking up the children, etc.
Having gone through this process myself personally, I would suggest to you to take advantage of the one-year period of separation before entering into a serious romantic relationship. Take the year to connect with old friends and make new ones. Get acquainted with who you are and what you want for your future. Explore hobbies or other social groups and activities. Of course, if you are ready to get back into the dating scene before you are divorced, please proceed with caution. Adultery prior to the date of separation is marital misconduct and could give rise to a claim for alimony. Post-separation adultery is generally irrelevant, expect to the extent it helps to prove pre-separation adultery. However, post-separation adultery may be upsetting to your spouse and may affect his or her willingness to reach an agreement with you. If you are involved with someone else, please be discreet, be truthful and tell your attorney about the relationship.
Divorce is essentially the death of a marriage. It is traumatic whether you wanted the divorce or not. It is normal to go through a grieving process. Many times, people experience depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions upon the breakup of a marriage. If you feel this way, please seek help from a mental health professional immediately. This help can come from counselors, trusted clergy, psychologists or psychiatrists. There are often support groups, which are free of charge and sometimes even provide free childcare, such as DivorceCare. You can go to www.divorcecare.org to find a group near you and to learn details about what options they have for you in terms of cost, childcare, etc.
Sometimes after a case is moving forward and time passes, emotional wounds can heal; folks can reconsider some of the issues that initially resulted in the separation and change their ways. You should always feel free to discuss these thoughts with your attorney. It is our policy to encourage efforts toward reconciliation and we will make any effort to help our clients get the resources and assistance they need if that is their desire, such as marital counseling or financial advising. There may be legal consequences to a reconciliation, but those are best addressed on a case-by-case basis directly with one of our attorneys

Pharmaceutical Litigation FAQ’s

Depending on the facts of your individual case, liable parties can range from the drug manufacturer, to your treating physician, to the pharmacy that dispensed the medication. An experienced lawyer at Younce & Vtipil can help determine liability in your personal injury claim. Contact us today.
In a case where no physician prescribed the drug which caused you injury, but instead you purchased it on your own, you may still have a claim against the drug manufacturer. You will not, however, have a claim against your physician. Another possibility is a claim against the pharmacist if the drug was a prescription drug.
A class action is a distinctive type of lawsuit that allows a group of people who have comparable issues to sue another party as a group, or class. The idea of a class action is that everyone who has been injured by the same conduct should not have to be put to the expense of hiring his/her own lawyer and go through the stress of a trial. Certain drug litigation cases fall under class action lawsuits against the manufacturer. Contact Younce & Vtipil today to discuss your claim.
Among many others, the following are the most common drugs found in litigation claims:
  • Accutane
  • Celebrex
  • Crestor
  • Enbrel/Etanercept
  • Ephedra
  • Meridia
  • Oxycontin
  • Paxil
  • Premarin
  • Prempro
  • Redux
  • Rezullin
  • Serzone
  • Stadol
  • Thimerosal
  • Vioxx
  • Zyprexa
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has strengthened its precautions in the labeling of certain drugs with dangerous side effects, through warning labels on the product. This includes the highest level of warning, a Black Box warning.
An “off-label drug” is use of a drug in ways other than described in the FDA-approved label. It is legal for physicians to prescribe medications for off-label uses; however, it is not legal for drug companies to promote unapproved uses or distort information about a medication’s off-label benefits.
Many prescription drugs can provide benefits for patients that are not the drug’s primary purpose. For example, aspirin, once thought only a pain killer, has been proven to increase blood circulation and prevent heart attacks. This is an acceptable medical practice when done by an experienced physician. When a drug company specifically markets a drug for an off-label purpose, it violates Federal law, and can cause serious injuries in patients.
Off label uses of FDA-approved drugs can include:
  • Antidepressants – used for insomnia and pain.
  • Opioid analgesics – used for pediatric pain.
  • Anticonvulsants – used for a variety of pain problems.
  • Corticosteroids – used for cancer pain.
  • Antiarrythmics – used for neuropathic pain.
  • Beta-blockers – used for migraine.
  • NSAIDs – used for nonarthritic pain.
  • Amphetamines – used for opioid-induced sedation.
  • Clonazepam – used for anxiety.
Here are some tips for the next time your doctor prescribes any medication:
  • Ask about the risks and benefits – Ask if the drug has been approved for your condition and about the potential benefits and risks involved.
  • Talk to the pharmacist – Ask the pharmacist to review the package insert with you before filling the prescription.
  • Do some research – Look up the drug in medical reference book or on the Internet. Check whether your condition is an approved use, what the proper dose is, and what the proper duration of use is.
  • Inquire about other options – If you are not comfortable with a drug that does not meet FDA-approval for your condition, tell your doctor.
Zyprexa is the brand name for an anti-psychotic drug approved for the treatment of Schizophrenia, Bi-polar disorder, and other psychotic mental disorders. Zyprexa may be linked to diabetes, hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels), and diabetic ketoacidosis (a potentially fatal complication of diabetes). In February of 2004, Zyprexa drug maker, Eli Lilly and Company, notified doctors and psychiatrists that elderly patients with dementia face an increased risk of stroke with Zyprexa treatment.
In September 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered Eli Lilly to revise the Zyprexa® labeling and product information to inform doctors and patients that the use of Zyprexa® (and other SGAs) has been associated with an increased risk of glucose abnormalities and diabetes. On March 1, 2004, Eli Lilly issued a “Dear Doctor” letter to individual physicians in which it informed doctors of the increased risk of hyperglycemia and diabetes in patients taking Zyprexa® and described the label changes.
Zyprexa and other antipsychotic medications can cause serious problems such as:
  • A life-threatening nervous system problem called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). NMS can cause a high fever, stiff muscles, sweating, a fast or irregular heart beat, change in blood pressure, and confusion. NMS can affect your kidneys. NMS is a medical emergency. Call your healthcare professional right away if you experience these symptoms.
  • A movement problem called tardive dyskinesia (TD). Call your healthcare professional right away if you get muscle movements that cannot be stopped.
  • High blood sugar and diabetes. Patients with diabetes or who have a higher chance for diabetes should have their blood sugar checked often.
  • Strokes have happened in older patients treated for mental illness from dementia. Zyprexa is not approved for this use.
  • Other serious side effects include low blood pressure seen as dizziness, and possibly fainting; increased heart beat; seizures; liver problems; increased body temperature; and difficulty swallowing.
  • The most common side effects include sleepiness, dry mouth, dizziness, restlessness, constipation, upset stomach, weight gain, increased appetite, and tremor.
Following are some examples of the serious Zyprexa side effects:
  • Diabetic coma
  • Kidney failure
  • Diabetes Mellitus – when the body is unable to process sugar normally or produce adequate insulin.
  • Hyperglycemia – elevated blood sugar.
  • Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Tardive Dyskinesia – an irreversible neurological disorder.
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome – a rare, life-threatening reaction to neuroleptic medication.
  • Ketoacidosis – when the body has severe deficiency of insulin.
You should always inform your doctor and your pharmacist about all medications you take (including over-the-counter) before being prescribed Zyprexa. Zyprexa may increase the effects of medicines that are used to control high blood pressure. This could lead to very low blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting. Zyprexa may also increase the effects of drugs that cause drowsiness, including antidepressants, alcohol, antihistamines, sedatives, pain relievers, anxiety medicines, muscle relaxants, and any other drug that makes you feel sleepy or relaxed. Zyprexa may decrease the effects of drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease; this could lead to worsening Parkinson’s symptoms.
Zyprexa has been linked to the early onset of diabetes, hyperglycemia, or other diabetes-related complications that can result in coma or death. Researchers identified 289 cases of diabetes in patients who had been given Zyprexa. Of these 289 cases:
  • 225 were newly diagnosed diabetic patients
  • 100 developed ketosis, a serious diabetes-related complication
  • 22 developed pancreatitis, a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas
  • 23 died
  • 71% occurred within six months of starting treatment with Zyprexa.
The symptoms that are most commonly associated with glucose abnormalities and diabetes include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, frequent urination, unusual irritability, increased appetite, blurred vision and listlessness. Many of these symptoms are secondary to your body’s inability to process glucose adequately. Diabetes can also compromise the body’s ability to resist infection giving rise to urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and other disorders.
If you experience any of the symptoms related to Zyprexa or suspect you might have a glucose abnormality, you should consult with a physician promptly. Zyprexa has been approved by the FDA, and it can be dangerous to stop taking Zyprexa immediately. If you have concerns about Zyprexa, speak with your doctor or medical professional today.
The drug manufacturer, Eli Lilly & Company, has acknowledged the dangerous life-threatening side effects and the substantial management difficulties associated with Zyprexa use. The manufacturer admits that the drug is only approved for short-term treatment of schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Eli Lilly & Company has recently been warned by the FDA to make label changes acknowledging adverse events associated with use.
The legal system can provide compensation for people victimized by the conduct of negligent drug manufacturers and other responsible parties. When an otherwise preventable serious injury or death occurs from the use of any prescription medication, a lawsuit provides an effective vehicle to obtain compensatory and punitive damages. If you have experienced any of the adverse side effects associated with Zyprexa, contact Younce & Vtipil today.
Yes. Each state has its own statute of limitations establishing a deadline to pursue a claim. These limits vary greatly from state to state. Therefore, if you suspect negligence do not wait to contact an experienced Zyprexa lawyer at Younce and Vtipil.
Propulsid is a prescription drug developed by Janssen Pharmaceutica of Titusville, N.J. for the treatment of nighttime heartburn. It is marketed by its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, and has been generally available since July 1993 when it was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Since then, it has been used by more than 30 million U.S. residents.
The FDA has advised doctors about new warnings of cardiac problems associated with Propulsid. They have told Janssen to revise the label to include new information about the cardiac risks associated with the drug and to recommend that other therapies for heartburn generally be used before prescribing Propulsid. Five times between the date the drug was approved and January 2000, the labeling for the drug was made progressively stronger, warning about life threatening reactions to use of the drug.
Propulsid was found to cause heart rhythm abnormalities, resulting in various other medical problems and sometimes death. Patients with no history of cardiac problems were subjected to new difficulties that were caused either by a combination of the drug with antibiotic and antifungal drugs, or through a combination of illnesses. Some of the effects of Propulsid in adults include:
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • QT interval prolongation
And in children:
  • Antinuclear antibody
  • Positive anemia
  • Haemolytic anemia
  • Hypo-glycemia
  • Confusion
  • Impaired concentration
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Visual changes
  • Amnesia
A very small proportion of those who used the drug had problems with it. However, there were 341 reports of significant heart difficulties, of which 80 resulted in death. This number is out of 30 million patients who used the drug at some time.
The approval of Propulsid by the FDA had been only for adult use. A study of approximately 58,000 premature babies showed that about 20 percent of mothers had been given Propulsid. Presently, approximately 11 infant deaths have been associated with Propulsid use. Many doctors used Propulsid to treat babies with heartburn-causing ”gastroesophageal reflux.” This reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up in the esophagus. Adults call that burning feeling heartburn. Babies react by vomiting. Nearly all babies do that and it is a normal occurrence because the esophagus and stomach are immature at infancy. Ninety-five percent of babies will outgrow the problem by their first birthday, and many are not treated for the condition. However, when the reflux is bad enough that babies become malnourished and don’t gain weight, have trouble breathing while vomiting, or the esophageal irritation causes obvious pain, they are treated.
Yes. Patients at higher risk included those who were using conflicting drugs, or who had conflicting disorders such as a history of cardiac problems. Patients who used the drug alone, with no alternative therapy or conditions, generally suffered no adverse effects.
If Propulsid has caused you or a loved one significant physical damage, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us at Younce & Vtipil to evaluate your rights. It will cost you nothing to speak with an attorney about your potential claim and there is no obligation when you call.
After years of escalating fatalities and pressure from the FDA, Janssen announced that it would voluntarily stop marketing Propulsid in the United States beginning July 14, 2000. The drug is still used for treatment. However, patients must now meet an even more stringent level of criteria. Physicians must assess each patient and then confirm that there is no alternative therapy, there is no history of cardiac problems, the patient is not taking any conflicting drugs, and the patient took an electrocardiogram and blood tests.
Rezulin is an oral medication. It is used in combination with insulin or sulfonylurea in patients with Type-2 diabetes (adult-onset diabetes mellitus) whose blood glucose levels are not adequately controlled by these other therapies alone. Rezulin, manufactured by Warner-Lambert, was approved in 1997.
It is a serious, life-threatening disease that affects 18 million Americans. It is a leading cause of coronary heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and limb amputation. Adequate control of blood sugar appears to be the most important means of preventing these complications.
Rezulin can cause serious liver damage (toxicity) that, in some cases, results in death. Symptoms of liver toxicity include: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, jaundice, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Rezulin has also been linked to a thickening of the left ventricular wall of the heart, a condition that can ultimately lead to heart failure and death. There have been an estimated 430 Rezulin patients that suffered liver failure, including 391 deaths. It was found that a Rezulin patient’s risk of liver failure is increased 1,200 times by taking the diabetes drug.
The FDA recalled Rezulin in March 2000 because it caused liver failure. Approximately 90 cases of liver failure were reported to the FDA, 63 of which resulted in death. Ten resulted in liver transplants. There were also some reports linking it to heart failure.
Through direct toxicity, which is a dose-related injury. It can also cause damage in people who are allergic to the drug. There has also been some evidence to suggest that damage occurred through a combination of these two factors.
The company first knew of at least 12 people who had suffered potentially life-threatening liver damage during Rezulin’s clinical trials in 1993. In the first 18 months Rezulin was on the market, there were 56 reports from FDA records showing heart failure.
There are two drugs, Actos and Avandia, which work the same way as Rezulin, but without the same side effects. The FDA recommends these two drugs for the treatment of Type-2 diabetes.
If you took Rezulin to treat diabetes, you should consult your doctor immediately to discover if any damage occurred to your liver or heart. You may be entitled to monetary compensation. Contact us at Youce & Vtipil to learn more about your legal rights.
You should supply any documents that might have a bearing on your case. Copies of medical reports from doctors and hospitals are extremely helpful. The more information you are able to give your lawyer, the easier it will be for him or her to determine if your claim will be successful.
If you have suffered because of the negligent practices that Warner-Lambert used to manufacture and market Rezulin, contact the offices of Younce & Vtipil. You may be entitled to compensation for the damages and suffering that have resulted from taking the diabetes drug.
Serzone was approved by the FDA for use in the United States for the treatment of depression in 1994. An anti-depressant in a class of its own in terms of its structure and composition, Serzone shares some characteristics with other serotonin uptake inhibitors like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. It is used to relieve feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or guilt; other symptoms of depression such as loss of interest in daily activities; changes in appetite; tiredness; sleeping too much; insomnia; and thoughts of death or suicide. The drug Serzone generates annual sales of $400 million for its manufacturer, Bristol-Myers Squibb. On May 19th, 2004, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced that due to declining sales, Serzone will no longer be sold in the U.S. after June 14th, 2004. This action does not affect sales of generic versions of Serzone (nefazodone).
In rare cases, treatment with Serzone has been associated with serious liver problems, sometimes resulting in liver transplants or death. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience early signs of liver problems such as: yellowing of the skin or eyes; unusually dark urine; loss of appetite that lasts several days or longer; severe nausea; or stomach pain. Also, do not take Serzone if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) in the last 14 days, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The following are uncommon, but serious side effects. If you experience any of these, stop taking Serzone and seek emergency medical attention:
  • An allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives)
  • Fainting
  • Prolonged, painful, or inappropriate erections (this could lead to a serious condition requiring surgery)
Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take Serzone and talk to your doctor when it is convenient if you experience:
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or drowsiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Blurred or abnormal vision
A major depressive episode usually interferes with daily functions for at least two weeks. Tell your doctor if you have had any of the following symptoms: depressed mood, loss of interest in usual activities, significant change in weight and/or appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, increased fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, slowed thinking or impaired concentration, a suicide attempt or thoughts of suicide.
It is more popular. Serzone is chemically different from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressants. It inhibits the uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine and blocks one type of serotonin receptor. It is thought that this blocking effect greatly decreases the insomnia, weight gain and lack of sexual interest common in patients taking other antidepressants.
Individual claims, as well as a recent filing for a Serzone class action, have resulted in response to the adverse side effects antidepressant patients have experienced. For more information on your legal rights regarding Serzone antidepressant drug, please contact Younce & Vtipil.
Cases of life-threatening liver failure have been reported in patients treated with Serzone. When liver failure occurs, a liver transplant may be indicated to prevent death.

Additional FAQ’s

Finding the right attorney to assist you with your particular situation and needs begins with finding one that you trust, feel comfortable with and one with which you can clearly communicate issues and concerns. During your consultation, the attorney needs to be able to ask you the right questions and spot potential issues to ensure your rights are fully protected. Good listening skills are another key characteristic you should look for in your attorney. It is extremely important that clients feel that their attorney is listening to them and really hearing their concerns. Before you leave the attorney’s office, you need to be certain that you fully understand their billing practices and how they intend to handle your case. It is a good idea to meet with a few attorneys to be sure you find the right fit for you and your situation.
In order to represent our clients to the best of our ability, it is vital that we are provided with complete, accurate facts concerning each client’s situation. It is important to trust your attorney so that you feel comfortable in making these disclosures. Our firm holds confidentiality in high regard and you can trust that anything you tell anyone in this office is strictly confidential and will not be disclosed without your permission. You should also feel free to discuss the details of your case without fear of judgment. Our firm is here to help you and not pass judgment on any past actions or allegations that have been made in your case.
This is the most commonly asked question by clients and the most difficult one to answer. Each case is different, and as a result the amount spent on attorney’s fees is different. While we can make general estimates of ranges of anticipated fees based on our past experience, you must understand that these estimates are not guarantees. These estimates are for your financial planning purposes and preparation. Our firm charges on an hourly rate basis or a flat fee basis, depending on the type of legal service you are seeking. For claims which seek a judgment of absolute divorce based on one year’s separation and which are not contested, we normally charge a fixed fee. With regard to other claims, we generally charge for our services at an hourly rate, which varies from attorney to attorney. Staff time is also billed at a lower hourly rate. Any specific concerns regarding the fees charged by your attorney should be explained in your legal services contract. You should always contact your attorney if you have questions or concerns about the fee arrangement as soon as possible.
It is not ethical for an attorney to represent two people who have interests that are in actual or potential conflict. In cases of separation and divorce, the spouses’ interests are necessarily in actual or potential conflict. As a general rule, we cannot represent you and your spouse. This does not mean that your spouse must hire their own attorney; however, we cannot give your spouse legal advice because we represent our client’s interests. This can limit what questions we can answer for your spouse. If your spouse does not have a lawyer, and wants to meet to discuss any non-legal questions he/she may have and/or to execute your agreement, we can meet with you and your spouse together to do so.
Always notify your attorney of any change of address, telephone number, email address or employment. Be truthful; if you are not, your attorney may not continue to represent you and this may also create undue delay in your case causing unnecessary legal fees and expenses. Handle your financial commitments to your attorney in a prompt and professional manner. Our firm understands that separation can cause significant financial strain. Thus, it is important to us that we keep our clients informed about the amount of funds left in their retainer and when it is about to be depleted. Before you get to that point, we will advise you in writing of the status of your case, your options toward resolution and the related retainer amount to pursue each option. By doing this, our firm hopes to avoid high outstanding balances that cause strain for both you and the firm.
Asbestos is the generic name given to a group of minerals that tend to break down into a dust of microscopic fibers. Its superior durability and resistance to heat have made it a staple in literally thousands of building components. Manufacturers have voluntarily limited the use of asbestos, but it is still common in older buildings.
It can be found in just about any building constructed before 1980. Some items containing asbestos in your home include older duct tape, floor tiles, acoustic ceiling tiles or covering, roofing materials, exterior siding, insulation, fireproof boards and flues around wood burning stoves, and some appliances including toasters, broilers, slow cookers, waffle irons, dishwashers, and refrigerators.
Asbestos is generally not harmful in its natural state. In production, asbestos was typically reduced to a “friable” state – small, brittle fibers. Fine asbestos dust is a by-product of friable asbestos. Inhaled microscopic fibers remain in the body forever and are impossible to remove. It damages lung tissue when inhaled during consistent, long-term exposure, causing “asbestosis,” progressively limiting lung capacity and function. In extreme cases, it can cause mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer that is most often fatal. Symptoms generally do not appear for 10 to 30 years after the exposure.
Asbestos is also known to cause bowel cancer and noncancerous lung diseases. If you’re a smoker, the risk of developing lung cancer is five times greater.
Although there was anecdotal information available for centuries that indicated health problems associated with long-term exposure to asbestos, no definitive evidence about asbestos danger was forthcoming until the mid-20th century. Preliminary studies in the 1940s and 1950s caused concern. Scientific proof was established in the early 1960s.
Individuals exposed to asbestos on the job, through their home, during their military service or through a family member, should be contact a physician regarding their asbestos exposure. A physical examination, including chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests of the lungs may be recommended to determine markers of asbestos exposure.
If you were exposed to asbestos it does not mean that you have an asbestos-caused disease. However, you should see your doctor. Symptoms can develop as long as 30 years after an initial exposure to asbestos. That is why it’s so important to visit your doctor immediately if you believe you have the symptoms of an asbestos-related disease. You should also contact an attorney at Younce & Vtipil to understand what compensation you might be entitled to if you do have an asbestos-related illness.
No cure exists for asbestosis or other lung or pleural diseases caused by chronic exposure to asbestos. Treatments are available, however, to help remove any cancer that may be present and to reduce the symptoms of asbestos-related disease. Staying healthy can help minimize health complications later on.
Asbestos became a major industry early in the 20th century. It was a common product, in great demand and widely used for decades. The carcinogenic properties were not known. As soon as definitive medical evidence of serious health risk was confirmed, governments around the world initiated action to prevent asbestos use and exposure. The EPA only requires asbestos removal in order to prevent significant public exposure to airborne asbestos fibers during building demolition or renovation projects.
An exact number may never be known. Millions have been exposed, and many workers were exposed to high concentrations of asbestos over many years in certain work places. These are the most at risk. Though reports of new cases of mesothelioma have declined to less than 2,500 annually and will continue to decline in coming years, latency periods for some types of asbestos harm are still unknown, and at least minimal new case reports are anticipated for several more years.
Life insurance settlements allow a life insurance policy owner to sell an existing policy to a financial institution in exchange for immediate lump sum cash settlement. The amount paid for the policy is a discounted percentage of the policy’s net death benefit and represents the present day value of the policy. This purchase price is determined by considering the insured’s estimated life expectancy and the associated cost of premiums to keep the policy in force for that timeframe.
  1. Life Settlements – create immediate liquidity from a non-performing asset, allowing policy owners to cash out of unwanted, unaffordable or obsolete life insurance policies insuring a senior over age 65.
  2. Viatical Settlements – enable someone facing a terminal illness to utilize the present day value of their life insurance policy to ease the financial burdens that can be caused by the high costs of medical care.
Your insurance company has a duty to handle your claim promptly, reasonably and in “good faith”. If an insurance company fails or refuses to honor its contract and pay a valid claim, you have the right to bring a civil action for damages against that insurance company.
Intentionally offering a settlement far lower than what is reasonable could be a case for bad faith. Insurance companies have an obligation to deal with their insured in a reasonable, fair manner. Contact an experienced insurance settlement attorney to discuss your unique claim.
The law of bad faith only applies to first party insurance contracts. In other words, only claims made by the insured against his or her own insurance company to which he or she is paying a premium for coverage are eligible. Thus, it applies to claims made by those who are insured against their own automobile insurance companies, homeowner’s insurance companies, disability insurance companies, etc. It does not apply to claims made by persons against another person’s insurance company because that other person injured or damaged the claimant in some way.
The first thing you might receive from an insurance company is called a “reservation of rights” letter. This letter informs you that the company is investigating your claim, but that it is reserving its right not to pay you anything if it turns out that the accident is not covered under the policy. The insurance company must still thoroughly investigate your claim and negotiate with you fairly. The letter simply protects the insurance company by preventing you from claiming that the company’s insurance policy covers your accident just because it began settlement negotiations with you.
When the insurance adjuster makes you a first offer, your response should depend on whether it is a reasonable offer. The attorneys at Younce & Vtipil will help you determine if the insurance company has made a reasonable offer. Please contact us today. If the offer is reasonable, you can immediately make a counteroffer that is a little bit lower than your demand letter amount. This shows the adjuster that you, too, are being reasonable and are willing to compromise. In these negotiations, emphasize the strongest points in your favor — for example, that the insured was completely at fault, that you had a very painful injury, that your medical costs were reasonable, and/or that you had long-term or permanent physical effects.
Insurance companies are required by law to pay all claims in a prompt and reasonable amount of time. However, what constitutes prompt and reasonable may vary from claim to claim. Claims that require special or extended investigation may take longer to resolve.
Before you make any type of commitment in an insurance settlement, whether it is a life insurance policy, health insurance policy, or any other insurance policy, you should contact an experienced attorney at Younce & Vtipil. An attorney can assist you in asking the right questions, getting a fair settlement and court proceedings if necessary.
When a medical device (such as a syringe, hip implant, pacemaker, or surgical instrument) injures someone, the courts must answer the question “was there something wrong with the product” or “was there something wrong with how the product was used”? In finding the answer, two general theories of liability are applied: product liability and negligence. The first theory looks at what was wrong or defective in the medical device. The second looks at the performance of the medical personnel using the device. An experienced medical device lawyer, such as Younce & Vtipil, can evaluate your injuries and determine if a defective medical device caused them. Contact us today.
Due to complex issues involved in drug and medical device claims, discussing your case with an attorney who is experienced in the area is the best way to ensure a thorough evaluation of your case. Contact Younce & Vtipil today to discuss your claim.
The amount is based on your lifetime average earnings as determined by Social Security. You can get a copy of this record by contacting the SSA offices in your area.
Not necessarily, but your benefits can be reduced if you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, or benefits from certain federal, state, local government, civil service, or military disability programs. The general rule is that your combined payments cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before becoming disabled.
If your work situation has changed “substantially” (meaning you receive more than $500 in earnings per month) or your condition has improved to the point that you are no longer considered disabled.
The Social Security Administration has “work incentives” that allow you to work while receiving benefits. It actually encourages its applicants to keep working. A general description of each incentive follows:
  • Trial Work Period – For nine months you may earn as much as you can without affecting benefits. After your trial work period ends, your earnings are evaluated. If your earnings do not average more than $500 a month, benefits will generally continue. If earnings average more than $500 a month, benefits will continue for a three-month grace period before they stop.
  • Extended Period of Eligibility – For 36 months after a successful trial work period, you may be eligible to receive a monthly benefit without a new application for any month your earnings drop below $500.
  • Deductions for Impairment-Related Expenses — Any expenses that are related to your disability are not counted in your earnings.
  • Medicare Continuation – Your Medicare coverage will continue for 39 months beyond the trial work period.
Normally only those with a very high income get taxed on their benefits. At the end of the year, you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement showing the amount of benefits you have received. This will be used in completing your taxes for that year.
You should contact an attorney at Younce & Vtipil to review the claim with you. Denial on first time applicants is fairly common. You are entitled to file an appeal with the SSA. You have 60 days from the time you receive the decision (5 days from the date it was sent) to file an appeal to the next level.
You can apply at any Social Security office in your area or it can be done by mail or phone. This should be done as soon as you become disabled.
The sixth full month after the disability occurred.
The process normally takes 60-90 days. It takes longer than other Social Security benefits because of the extent of information that is needed by the SSA when reviewing your claim (i.e. medical records). However, you may be able to shorten the process by bringing any and all necessary documents with you when you apply.
The False Claims Act is 31 U.S.C. Sections 3729 through 3733. Qui tam lawsuits, under the False Claims Act, allow persons and entities with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the United States Government. In Qui tam actions, the government has the right to intervene and join the action. Qui tam is a Latin expression meaning, “he who brings an action for the King as well as himself.” The person filing the suit is legally referred to as the “relator” in a qui tam lawsuit. False Claims Act suits are often related to Medicare, Medicaid or other health care fraud, defense department fraud and contracting fraud.
Violators of the False Claims Act are liable for three times the dollar amount that the Government is defrauded (i.e., treble damages) and civil penalties of $5,000 to $10,000 for each false claim.
Actions which are considered violations of the False Claims Act include:
  • Knowingly presenting (or caused to be presented) to the federal government a false or fraudulent claim for payment;
  • Knowingly using (or causing to be used) a false record or statement to get a claim paid by the federal government;
  • Conspiring with others to get a false or fraudulent claim paid by the federal government; and
  • Knowingly using (or causing to be used) a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay money or transmit property to the federal government. Workers’ Compensation law provides benefits to workers who are injured on the job or who suffer an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment.
Any person or entities with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts may file a Qui tam lawsuit.
Violators of the False Claims Act are liable for three times the dollar amount that the government is defrauded. A Qui tam plaintiff (relator or whistleblower) can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the total recovery from the defendant, whether through a favorable judgment or settlement. To be eligible to recover money under the Act, you must first file a Qui tam lawsuit. Merely informing the government about the violation is not enough. You only receive an award if, and after, the government recovers money from the defendant as a result of your suit.
Yes. More than one person or entity can join together and file a Qui Tam lawsuit.
Under the False Claims Act, an action must be filed within the later of the following two time periods:
  • Six years from the date of the violation of the Act; or
  • Three years after the Government knows or should have known about the violation, but in no event longer than 10 years after the violation of the Act.
The time from the filing of a Qui tam action until its resolution varies greatly from case to case. One should, however, be prepared for a Qui tam action to take years, sometimes as many as five or more.
If you file a Qui tam action, the Government will know your identity, and your name will likely be disclosed to the defendant at some point. During the initial seal period, (under the law) the defendant is not supposed to learn that you have filed the lawsuit; however, (in practice) defendants sometimes figure it out. After the seal period ends, when the Government announces its decision regarding intervention and the complaint is served on the defendant, your identity will be revealed. There are circumstances in which you may be able to file a Qui tam action and then voluntarily dismiss it during the seal period without having your identity revealed.
In general, the False Claims Act does not require you to report the fraud before filing a Qui tam action. However, there are circumstances in which you must, or would be wise to, inform the Government before filing. You may wish to speak with an attorney about this issue. Contact the office of Younce & Vtipil for information on your legal rights.
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