What Is A Whistleblower Claim?

There is no such thing as whistleblower insurance, although some businesses might prefer its existence. A whistleblower claim can mean one of two things. First, these can be the literal assertions made of criminal, unlawful, or immoral activities conducted at a business by an employee. Second, they can be a legal response to retaliatory moves made against a whistleblower (since retaliation is illegal).

When we hear about whistleblower claims in civil court, it’s usually the second instance being considered. Employers respond to whistleblowing in a variety of ways. The best way is simply amending behavior to fall in better line with the law or fundamental human morality. But many employers go further down the rabbithole by limiting hours, harassing, exploiting honest mistakes made by the whistleblower, or terminating employment. All these actions are examples of retaliation. 

An anonymous lawyer for cmlaw.com explained, “All employees have a universal right to unveil potentially illegal or immoral actions made in a workplace, whether those actions are made by a fellow employee or boss. This right exists to make a workplace more comfortable and more in line with the law, which benefits all parties. But still, some managers view whistleblowing as a personal offense and react poorly. That’s when lawyers get involved.”

A classic example of retaliation occurred during and after the first impeachment of former president Donald Trump. Retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his brother were both fired after Vindman testified during the impeachment trial. He later sued for intimidation and retaliation. The lawsuit is ongoing. Although this example is political, it works the same way in any workplace and is still illegal in government.

Vindman later admitted he had no qualms about telling the truth when it mattered the most, but was upset that doing the right thing effectively ended his career. 

In fact, whistleblowing often has this effect — and it should not be tolerated. When retaliation occurs, you should immediately contact an employment lawyer to discuss options.

Retaliation claims are often overlooked because they are difficult to prove. A “smart” manager will begin writing up the employee for infractions that are more often ignored. Five minutes late to work? You might get written up when you never were before. Took an extra two minutes on break? Another write-up. Managers will often write up whistleblowers for failing to meet a quota after providing more work than usual or cut hours to make the usual tasks impossible to complete.

Employees who believe that managerial behavior constitutes retaliation should speak to coworkers. Ask them if they received write-ups or got in trouble for the same things. For example, a good employment lawyer will point out when retaliation doesn’t meet the usual code of conduct.

Coworkers are sometimes hesitant to get involved and might be less than inclined to provide this information even when justified because they also fear retaliation and they don’t want to make matters worse. That’s one reason why whistleblower claims are difficult to prove in court.

Will The United States Ever Abolish Private Health Insurance?

There are two guiding theories about health and medicine. The first is the one we use in the United States: Convince most people to buy into private health insurance, which will pay the lion’s share of the costs in the event of a serious illness. The second is the one we don’t use (but many other developed countries do): Treat health like a human right, and use taxes to pay for medical treatment whenever someone becomes ill. 

You probably already know that Democrats like Bernie Sanders favor the latter system. They prefer a “Medicare for all” system that they say would eventually reduce the costs of medicine, which are consistently rising at an ever-increasing rate.

The problem is even simpler, though. The United States is a capitalist society. Most of us believe in protecting business in general, but especially those smaller businesses or those businesses just starting out. To change such a deeply-ingrained part of our society would require a reversal of Republican policy and a transformation of American belief. 

There are other obvious problems. We allow lobbying in politics. Private interests like big business are allowed to contribute to political groups and campaigns when their beliefs align. This makes those political groups feel indebted to the ones who gave them money (and even if it doesn’t make them feel that way, they still have to do it to keep constituents happy). Gutting our current healthcare system also means demolishing an entire industry — and a powerful one at that. No one could believe that private health insurance providers would simply lie down and take it if the voters decided true universal healthcare was in their best interests.

Sociology Professor Paul Starr at Princeton University said, “We’re talking about changing flows of money on just a huge scale. There’s no precedent in American history that compares to this.”

That’s why you shouldn’t expect private health insurance to be abolished anytime soon. Not unless something transformational happens within our society.

What Does Insurance Have To Do With Business Succession?

Remember the first time you considered building your own business? It was probably an exciting moment. Did you imagine a hole-in-the-wall bar or diner? Or did you imagine an expansive retail empire? Whatever you imagined, the likelihood of achieving those goals depended entirely on your motivation, and, of course, that you made the right choices at the right time.

Most people who start their own business are in it for the long haul — and they want that business to survive and thrive long after they die. Business succession planning is one of several ways to achieve that. The concept is simple, and it works much like planning your estate.

For example, most people know they should have a last will and testament in case they die unexpectedly (even though many don’t follow through). These documents determine how our assets are divided when we die, and who gets what. Business succession planning works the same way, except for your business. How will you pass control when you retire, sustain a disability, or die? Like all legal affairs, you will need a business attorney to walk you through each step and make sure the right documents are in order.

Many business owners who plan for the future will want to consider a life insurance policy. Most people believe this type of insurance provides a benefit to those you leave behind — primarily so they can pay for funeral expenditures or unpaid debt. But life insurance can be used in other ways. 

For the sake of our discussion, we’ll talk about partnership buy-sell agreements, family buy-sell agreements, and then how life insurance factors into either one.

This type of buy and sell agreement is a covenant between business partners that determines what happens to a partner’s share of the business upon his or her death. In general, the agreement results in the sale of that share to the surviving partner.

A family buy-sell agreement works the same way. In general, though, the goal is to pass the deceased’s share of the business to surviving family members so the business continues to be passed down from one generation to the next. Talk about pressure, right?

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using a life insurance policy to complete business succession. 

Here are the pros. When you own a life insurance policy, the death benefits are almost always non-taxable. They are also paid relatively fast to reduce pressure on a family. They aren’t paid in installments. The benefits can be used by a surviving partner (or family member) to pay for lost shares. 

Here are the cons. Life insurance policies cost money, thereby increasing a business’s expenses. Because the policy needs to be big enough for a partner to pay for the deceased’s share of the business, the premiums will be more than you might expect. They could become even more expensive as a person’s health declines due to injury, old age, or disease. And you might need a lot of coverage depending on how big the business is.

Weird Insurance Policies That Shouldn’t Exist

The insurance industry is considered absolutely necessary by most people (and especially by politicians). The fact is, most people realize that changing the very nature of how our country’s leaders approach human rights would reduce or eliminate the need for private insurance. That means insurance companies spend a lot of their time on defense, avoiding the image that their companies exist only to take advantage of people.

Well, some of the weirder, more obscure insurance policies make it hard for them to do that.

Take, for instance, alien abduction insurance. Are you worried about being taken off into space? No worries! You can absolutely find coverage (if you happen to live in the United Kingdom), where insurance providers have sold an awe-inspiring 30,000 premiums. And they’re not cheap, either. You’ll be paying to the tune of $150 a month for extraterrestrial protection.

Have you ever entered a lottery pool? Usually, these are made up of employees who decide to play the lottery together — once a week, once a month, whatever. If you’re a business owner worried that your employees might hit it big and all quit at once, then guess what — you can take out lottery insurance to protect your business from those inevitable financial losses.

You know how they say you should have sexual intercourse if you’re not ready to be a parent? Sometimes, they recognize that you’re not mature enough. Other times they recognize that you simply don’t have the money. That’s where multiple birth insurance comes into play. Maybe you can afford a single child — but not two, or three or four. Don’t worry. You’re covered depending on the extra costs of an unexpected child.

Have you ever heard of body part insurance? Bruce Springsteen insured his voice for a whopping $6 million. Other celebrities have insured different body parts for millions of dollars to protect themselves from the dangers of a normal, mundane life (without riches).

Is Divorce Insurance Real?

The majority of marriages in the United States are destined to fail. Whether or not that’s a sign of a failed institution is up to you — but it makes sense to plan for something so common. We procure additional policies when a home might flood or burn or be damaged in an earthquake, and those outcomes are far less likely than a divorce. So is it possible to obtain divorce insurance? Technically, no. But there are steps to take to mitigate the fallout from a divorce.

There are a few obscure policies here and there. A company called SafeGuard Corp. offered divorce insurance aptly named WedLock. Of course, the requisite parameters of the insurance looked different from normal insurance because divorce is so common. Couples were required to have been married for at least four years before taking out a policy due to divorce, but after those four years had passed, WedLock would kick in and add $250 of additional coverage to the original $1250 policy each year. The monthly premiums started at only $16.

For most people, that kind of coverage isn’t really feasible. This is especially true since there are other types of insurance that, while they don’t protect against divorce, do protect against some consequences of divorce. 

Matteucci Family Law hinted that newly married couples might consider a prenuptial agreement. Although it can put stress on new couples, it can also reduce the financial impact of a divorce while creating an equitable arrangement if things don’t work out.

Another option is to write up a divorce settlement to decide what will happen in the event of a divorce before the marriage even takes place. This would mostly cover division of assets or child custody in addition to alimony or child support (if children are in the picture).

Finding your own health insurance pre-split is important. There might be employee benefits where you work that could save you some money.

You can also likely find policies to cover certain types of financial loss or protect certain assets in the event of divorce. These policies could conceivably cover legal fees, counseling, cost of living changes, etc.

Not sure what applies to you? If you’re thinking about divorcing a spouse but don’t have any protections already in place — and you’re willing to be patient and wait — then there are a few steps to take before you drop the hammer. First, talk to a financial consultant about assets and how to protect your money. Second, talk to a divorce attorney about how to protect assets before you decide to divorce.

The average cost of a divorce is over $12,900. The divorce is about more than just signing a piece of paper. It involves strenuous legal work that might last longer than you think. You might not get everything you think you deserve, because both sides will want an equitable solution — which means all your assets won’t necessarily be split down the middle. 

What Is The “No Surprise Act?”

Even those who read the fine print can be surprised by some of the costs associated with unexpected visits to the emergency room. And we don’t mean an “out-of-network” ER. We mean an “in-network” ER or doctor’s office, neither of which will necessarily tell you upfront about the various “out-of-network” costs associated with care you thought was completely covered. The “No Surprise Act” bans such charges outright.

The new law went into effect on the first of January after Congress approved it late last year. 

Assistant Director Loren Adler of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy said, “The No Surprises Act is really one of the biggest consumer protections to pass in recent decades. Now when patients go to the hospital for an emergency or for elective planned care, like a surgery, they no longer have to worry about getting a surprise out-of-network bill.”

The American Heart Association and American Medical Association (among others) have already filed litigation in opposition to the new consumer-driven law. 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 20 percent of ER visits result in a surprise bill. About one in six hospitalizations result in the same. These normally result in charges for anesthesia, surgical assistant fees, etc — everything you would think should be covered on normal health insurance when you’re in your network.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “No one should have to worry about going bankrupt after falling ill or seeking critical care.”

Patients are still allowed to see out-of-network providers as well, but there are new protections. The provider cannot bill patients without first making clear they are not inside the patient’s network. The provider must also provide estimates of what the care will ultimately cost. 

President Gerald Harmon of the AMA said, “Our legal challenge urges regulators to ensure there is a fair and meaningful process to resolve disputes between health care providers and insurance companies. But if regulators don’t follow the letter of the law, patient access to care could be jeopardized as ongoing health plan manipulation creates an unsustainable situation for physicians.”

Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Insurance For A Lower Cost

When we say “get the most out of your insurance” most people start thinking about how to save money on their health insurance policies. But that’s just one type of insurance. There are car insurance policies, homeowners insurance policies, renters insurance policies, etc. And it’s likely you’ll need more than one policy depending on your assets. So how do you reduce costs while getting the most out of your policies? It’s easier than you think!

There’s one key trick to cutting costs and also getting the most from the policy in question: ask. Speak to your insurance provider (or a lawyer) about what’s included in the policy you want and whether or not there are ways to cut premiums before you even sign up. 

For example, many of us know that taking a simple defensive driving course can reduce car insurance premiums. Using those skills on the road can pay off even more — because accidents mean rate hikes, and safe driving means lower costs. You can also buy a safer car. Anyone who wants a low car insurance rate won’t be driving a sports car, after all — because people think those are meant to be driven fast.

For health insurance, it usually pays to know more about what you need. That means reading the fine print. Do you have very low out of pocket costs and monthly rates? You might have a high deductible, which is the amount you pay for certain other services (such as a visit to the emergency room) before the plan kicks in at all. If you’re older or prone to serious accidents or illness because of lifestyle or your job, then you’ll want the lowest deductible possible. Sometimes, that means paying higher rates. But you’ll save more in the long run.

Do you need homeowners or renters insurance? You should make sure the coverage makes sense based on what you stand to lose. Don’t obtain coverage for $1 million when you only own $10,000 worth of goods. If an accident does occur, authorities and insurance auditors will both be suspicious. And make sure you read over the policy. You don’t need the insurance to cover flood damage if you live on a big hill and your house doesn’t have a cellar, right?

Usually, there are certain types of calamities not covered on these types of premiums. These include rust, mold, wear and tear, termite damage, etc. You can increase the liability on the claim to protect against monetary damages from these types of calamities — or you can try to add them specifically if allowed.

Lastly, when it’s time to call your insurance provider because of an accident, injury, or the destruction of your property, call a qualified lawyer first. Were you the victim of assault? It might actually make sense to ask for a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer before calling a personal lawyer. Our friends at https://www.ronaldfreemanlaw.com/ know a thing or two about how the process works.

COVID Relief Money Stolen From United States Government

Over $1 trillion was set aside by the U.S. government to help individuals, families and businesses who were struggling with the financial consequences of COVID-19. Somehow, at least $100 billion of that went missing along the way. This estimate was provided by the Secret Service, while the FTC contends that there have been over 400,000 scams related to the disease caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, people want answers about how this money could possibly have vanished into the ether.

Secret Service pandemic fraud recovery coordinator Roy Dotson said that “the sheer size of the pot is enticing to the criminals.”

Much of the lost money was stolen through scams related to unemployment. According to the Labor Department, around $87 billion in benefits might have gone to people who weren’t meant to receive them. The Secret Service has reclaimed around $1.2 billion and returned around $2.3 billion — but that doesn’t come close to fixing the problem. There are hundreds of active investigations related to the thefts. More than a hundred suspects have been arrested.

Lee Price III was charged with wire fraud and money laundering, and eventually pleaded guilty to both crimes. This was after he managed to steal over $1.6 million from the aforementioned “pot.” He tried for another million, but that’s when he got caught.

Dotson added, “Can we stop fraud? Will we? No, but I think we can definitely prosecute those that need to be prosecuted and we can do our best to recover as much fraudulent pandemic funds that we can.”

Courtney Hilaire, a 29-year-old man from Rhode Island, planned to file fake applications for COVID unemployment in eight states — and maybe more. He eventually pleaded guilty to wire fraud, identity theft, conspiracy to possess unauthorized access devices, and possession of the equipment used to make those devices. Hilaire admitted that there were others involved in the scheme. He will be sentenced on March 30, 2022.

When To Sue For Breach Of Contract

When was the last time you signed a contract? We do it often even without thinking. Consider, for example, each time you click “I agree” on a website’s terms of use. That’s a type of contract. Of course, it’s not the type of contract you will be sued for breaking. Chances are the website service will simply discontinue your ability to use it. Some contracts fall in the middle, such as one between a renter and landlord. Others are more serious, such as those signed in court or between businesses.

What does a breach of contract really mean? Business contracts are written for one reason and one reason only: to outline each party’s obligations inside an agreement (albeit usually in the most confusing way possible). Written contracts are provided to give one party a legal avenue to recoup losses when another party fails to come through. 

There are two types of breach of contract: material and immaterial. The former type of breach means that one party did not follow through, and the other party did not receive what was owed. Let’s say two parties enter into an agreement. Party A wants Party B to build a website dedicated to conservative politics. Party B hands Party A the keys to a beautiful new website all about man-made climate change. This is a material breach of contract.

An immaterial breach means the terms of the contract are technically fulfilled. These breaches often arise in tenant-landlord relationships. The tenant might have complaints regarding construction projects in the building. The noise is making it hard for the tenant — who works at night — to sleep during the day. This is an immaterial breach in most cases (unless the contract specifically outlined no construction during the day, which seems unlikely).

Regardless of what side you land on after one or more parties breach a contract, you will want legal help. Not sure what to do? Check with our friends: https://www.woodslaw.com/.

You can still sue for either type of breach. But whether or not a litigation makes sense is up to you. Did one party fail to deliver? Did one party make it impossible for the other party to deliver? 

Most states have laws that say the only enforceable contracts are those that are in writing. That means you cannot usually take someone to court over a verbal contract or “handshake” agreement. Business owners will already know this. Contracts that must be provided in writing include property sales, property leases, long-term work contracts, debt contracts, and property transfer. Speak to your lawyer to be sure that your contract is binding. 

Simple disputes might be handled in small claims court depending on jurisdiction. Most business disputes and breach of contract regarding law mean big bucks. Those breaches might be settled out of court, but when one party knows they’re right, it might be worth the time and money to let a judge settle the breach. 

The point is this: you can almost always sue for a breach of contract.

Does Vaccination Change Health Insurance?

Many workers have resisted vaccine mandates out of fear or stubbornness about the lack of freedom. These workers — and their opponents — wonder whether or not vaccination will change health insurance premiums. It probably won’t come as a surprise that many companies are punishing workers who decline free vaccines by forcing them to pay more for health insurance benefits.

This push is meant to increase vaccination rates without attracting attention. For example, Delta Airlines said that unvaccinated employees will be charged an extra $200 a month for health insurance. This change started earlier this month.

Is it legal?

Courts will have the ultimate say, of course, but…yes, it is legal. Unvaccinated workers have a higher likelihood of contracting coronavirus and coming down with COVID-19. When they get sick and end up in the hospital, they are at least partially financially protected by their health insurance policies. But because the costs are the result of a personal decision not to receive the vaccine, health insurance providers are much more likely to increase the costs shared by an employer. This is why most employers are completely on board with the vaccination push.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, “This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company.”

Many people believe that this is an overreach on the part of governments, employers, and health insurance providers. Law firms have compared the increased premiums for some people to those incurred by new drivers. A 16-year-old driver pays higher premiums than a driver who has been on the road for ten years without an accident. It all comes down to risk.

Other employers have started a new COVID-19 “risk pool” to share the costs with employees. Everyone contributes. When an employee comes down with COVID-19 and misses work, that employee takes funds from the pool — but they’re safe.