Is your business prepared for the legal confusion of ‘Obamacare?’

For most Americans, the Affordable Care Act is about as clear as mud. Polls show a majority of people have no idea how the plan – referred to derisively by critics and triumphantly by proponents as Obamacare – will affect them. And it seems scammers are counting on it.

TIME magazine reports health policy experts expect a flood of complaints about illegal schemers and unscrupulous companies trying to take advantage of consumers’ confusion.

The main feature of the law kicks in Oct. 1. That’s the launch date of the insurance marketplace, which some Americans will need in order to comply with the requirement they purchase health care coverage or face fines.

The experts are worried not just about outright scams – think take the money and run – but also about so-called “discount medical plans.” These are marketed as alternatives to health care coverage but aren’t insurance at all.

“There are people licking their chops and saying, ‘A sucker is born every minute,’” Elizabeth Abbott, director of administrative advocacy for the consumer group Health Access California, told TIME. Several states already have sued companies selling these plans for deceptive marketing practices.

And in Chicago in late July retired city workers filed a lawsuit over the impending shift to Obamacare.

Amid the confusion Obamacare has created, the expected flurry of lawsuits is understandable. Protect your business and your employees. When questions arise in the wake of the implementation of this game-changing legislation that will affect your business operations and your employees, you’ll need expert advice. Your business attorney can help you navigate the healthcare-legislation maze.

What to do in a serious vehicular collision

Kapow! You just got rear-ended while sitting at a traffic light. If you are still able to move about, alert and not in imminent danger, now’s the time to record the evidence of the collision with a cellphone camera.

Be careful about sharing too much information with the other driver and bystanders. Either could later become witnesses in a lawsuit. And don’t reveal the limits of your policy’s coverage. While it’s true you must give the other driver basic information, such as your name and proof of insurance, refrain from commenting on the accident.

Take notes, if you are able to do so. Record the positions of the vehicles, where pedestrians may have been standing, and a brief description. All these details can make a huge difference in the outcome of any civil or criminal actions. If you can, sketch out the details on a piece of paper. If not, commit the scene to memory. Preserving the evidence is crucial in those first moments after a collision.

If anyone else on the scene has been seriously injured, don’t call your friend, your Mom or anyone else until you call 911. While it’s usually considered a humane act to move a helpless person out of danger, it’s typically safer for all parties involved in the accident to wait for trained medical personnel to arrive on the scene. Use good judgment, even though you may be very upset. Steel yourself.

Sometimes a real nightmare occurs when a vehicle bursts into flames or occupants are thrown violently from a vehicle. While you are under no obligation to render aid in such a circumstance, should you decide to get involved only render aid you can competently give without worsening the person’s injuries.

If you have medical credentials and malpractice insurance, then it’s a different story. Many a doctor is willing to help in such circumstances, and they may even have an obligation under the law to render aid. In the majority of cases, however, the average citizen is not required to render aid to a victim.  

If you do decide to aid an injured person, do not apply a tourniquet unless you have sufficient knowledge of the procedure or if it’s clearly obvious the victim is in imminent danger of bleeding to death. The same goes for moving a prone person who may have a spinal or head injury. That could result in paralysis.

Consult with your attorney if you have concerns following the aftermath of an automobile accident. It’s a good idea to give him or her a heads up as soon as possible. That’s why it’s important to have an ongoing relationship with your family attorney.

Innocent or guilty? Don’t go it alone

How many innocent people are convicted of crimes each year in the U.S.? According to this article from CNN, since 1989 more than 2,000 Americans have been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.

When a miscarriage of justice occurs, the results prove devastating to the victim, the victim’s family, and his or her reputation.

Even if the falsely accused is later exonerated, often the effort to expunge a criminal record languishes due to the expensive proposition it often turns out to be. How does this happen in the U.S.? Sometimes victims of a miscarriage of justice do not even know they still have a conviction on their record until years later when they decide to buy a gun for protection. Discovering the presence of a false criminal record often has a devastating impact on a innocent person.

The one bright spot in all this is DNA evidence, which continues to exonerate those falsely accused. According to this New York Times article, Vincent Moto, a resident of Philadelphia, spent a decade behind bars accused of accosting a woman, raping and attacking her. To Moto’s relief, DNA testing did not tie him to the alleged crime, and he was freed in 1996 when his conviction was vacated.

The importance of retaining a competent attorney when one faces criminal charges can not be underestimated. Being falsely accused of a serious crime is a life-altering event equivalent to suffering a horrific injury in an automobile accident. When the ambulance arrives to carry away an injured crash victim, relatives and friends pull together to raise funds for medical care. It’s no different when a person’s personal freedom is in jeopardy.

Be prepared. These things can happen to you. If you are ever falsely accused of a crime, expect your friends and family will need to raise a significant amount of money to defend you. And if you don’t already have a relationship with an attorney who has expertise in legal defense, line up a lawyer now. Be prepared to fight for your freedom, no matter what the cost.

Real estate legal issues critical to peace of mind

The dewy innocence pictured in those billboards advertising new subdivisions evaporated some time ago when the U.S. housing crisis brought us a slew of new additions to the nation’s lexicon. Who can forget such terms as ‘mortgage meltdown,’ ‘robo signers’ or ‘liar loans?’

For centuries, real estate has proven a fertile field for legal disputes. Just because the backlog of foreclosed homes is receding doesn’t mean most Americans can be worry-free in real estate matters. Here’s just a few of the legal pitfalls you may run into when it comes to your ‘home sweet home.’

In the nation’s urban areas, where rental housing may outnumber single-family housing, disputes over everyday annoyances sometimes turn into outright vendettas.

Sure, that barking pup was cute when he was little, but when Rover turns into Cujo, threatening your passage and keeping you up all night, it might be time to seek the advice of an attorney. Otherwise, either party may become so frustrated that someone decides to take matters into his or her own hands.

Condominiums offer owners the convenience of not having to mow lawns, but legal trouble often seems to stalk condo owners. That’s particularly true for those who were duped into buying badly managed condo developments. In cases like this, many condo owners are eventually forced to pursue legal action.

Then there are land purchase schemes that have enriched many a swindler over the years. Consider the long string of major land ruses over the decades, including one in 2008 which brought massive financial ruin to millions of people. The fact is, unscrupulous people have been fleecing investors since the founding of the U.S.

Even with the full might of federal officials to oversee fair housing, there are still too many instances of abrogation of tenant rights. Improper evictions and subsequent seizure of personal property still occur every day – from small towns to big cities.

These are only a few of the many reasons every American should seek an ongoing relationship with an attorney — one with the expertise to defend the right to a peaceful and safe domicile. A lawyer is often the only way to obtain that ‘home sweet home’ in a culture in which so many refuse to respect the right to a peaceful dwelling.

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