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2020 has been quite a year for us in Georgia and throughout the world. With so few insurance claims, insurance companies have been sending rebates to their insured in droves. Yet, curiously, insurance companies are relying on exclusions and policy language to void coverage and wrongfully deny claims.

Policy exclusions are contained in the body of the insurance policy itself. Even if the insured can show that other requirements are met, and the loss should be covered, the large insurance companies such as Allstate, State Farm, GEICO and others are trying to rely on exclusions to take otherwise valid coverage away.

If this fails, they drop down and ague not coverage based on rules of construction. This end play by the insurance company can be successfully challenged in litigation if the policy language is ambiguous. Under well established Georgia law, if policy language is ambiguous, it is construed against the insurance company, mainy because they wrote the policy. As has been explained repeatedly by Georgia Appellate Courts, contract construction involves 3 steps: (1) the court must decide whether the language is clear and not ambiguous. If ti is, the court simply enforces the contratual term, as written; (2) If the court decides that the language is ambiguous, the court must apply the rules of contract construction to resolve the ambiguity; and (3) if the ambiguity remains after applying the rules of construction, then it is a jury question. Importantly, courts in Georgia construe insurance contracts in accordance with the reasonable expectations of the insured (who, obviously expect to be insured for losses) and any ambiguity is construed in favor of the insured and against the insurance company.

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As most have read recently, there has been legislation passed in almost every state which essentially gives businesses and adult living facilities a free pass when it comes to Covid-19 liability. This is true in Georgia. In other words, even if a Georgia senior living facility (i.e., nursing home, assisted living facility, old folks home, etc.) is negligent in the way that they handle Covid-19 and one of their residents suffers a serious injury or dies due to the negligence, the injured patient has no recourse and the nursing home will not be subject to a lawsuit. Whether that is right or wrong is certainly up for debate, but it is law, nonetheless.

SavaSenior Care is one of five for-profit nursing home chains targeted in a congressional investigation launched last week to explore the coronavirus crisis in the nation’s long-term care facilities. Sava’s CEO Jerry Roles, was sent  a 10-page letter from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis asking detailed questions about the company’s operations and its handling of the pandemic. The letter was prompted by recent congressional testimony citing lax oversight by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, and the federal government’s failure to provide adequate testing supplies, masks, gowns and other protective equipment.

Sava has 13 nursing homes throughout Georgia, and nearly half of these nursing home facilities have had major Covid-19 outbreaks. According to recent numbers, 76 Sava residents and 42 staff at the home have tested positive and 11 residents have died after being confirmed as having COVID-19. Sava has 13 nursing homes across Georgia, and nearly half have had major outbreaks, according to the AJC. At Roselane Health and Rehabilitation Center in Marietta (which is just outside of Atlanta), 99 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus and 14 died. At Sandy Springs Health and Rehabilitation, 66 have tested positive and 13 have died, according to  the Georgia Department of Community Health.

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All dentists and dental offices must use best practices and follow the standard of care to protect patients and provide the safest office environment possible. This has always been the law in Georgia, but now, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, these dental providers must do much more.

To reduce the risk that patients and staff will be exposed to COVID-19, the American Dental Association has provided various guidelines to dental offices. The guidelines echo the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

These are among the highlights of the new guidelines and should be instituted by general dentists, oral surgeons, endodontists, periodontists, and all other dental specialists:

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As I have previously written, we are working remotely to assist you with your legal needs during the COVID-19 crisis. To help law firms conduct their practice of law during this emergency, Governor Kemp issued another executive order which allows the remote notarization and witnessing of documents.

The order reads in relevant part:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED

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When you list your house with a real estate agent or broker to lease it, most people are careful to make sure the fee is listed correctly in the contract. While that is certainly important, there are a whole host of other important terms in the typical real estate listing agreement that must be analyzed before you sign. Many of these additional clauses (some hidden in fine print and other more obvious but not very clear) bind you, the landlord/lessor, to having to pay the real estate agent who leased your rental property fees on top of the fee you agreed to have the real estate agent list and lease the house. At times, the additional fees could amount to thousands of dollars in additional fees over and above what you thought you were contracting for.

Many listing agreements also require the payment of a commission if your tenant renews the lease for another year. This is yet another reason to read and understand anything you are asked to sign before you sign it.  Many more require that the payment of a full listing fee to the agent if you wind up selling your house to the tenants, even if that transaction was not even contemplated until after the lease is up. All contracts are negotiable, and you should make sure that you are comfortable with the terms of any agreement you enter into. If a specific condition is important to you and the person you are negotiating with does not want to give in, you may need to walk away and find someone else to work with. But, in order to do this, you must understand what the contract says, what the legal implications of the language are, and under what circumstances the different clauses kick in. Needless to say, this is one of those contracts that you should have your attorney look oer before entering into. If you don’t have an attorney, hire one who litigates contract disputes on a regular basis to review the contract and advise you BEFORE you sign it.

Once armed with the legal knowledge of what the contact says, you are in a better position to negotiate terms instead of blindly signing a piece of paper that is pushed in front of you. Oh, and by the way, I have had too many clients come to me after the fact (after they signed a contract) and tell me to help get them out of paying under the contract because they didn’t read the contract and/or didn’t understand what it said. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but not reading a contact is no defense. In Georgia, the law of contracts is clear: One he can read, must read. Armed with this knowledge, and having had the good sense to address some common scenarios that may play out under the contract before they happen (which is what a good lawyer helps you do), you can gauge if what you are asking for is unreasonable. If it is reasonable and the other side does not budge, realize this early on; do NOT sign the contract, and move on. Only do business with people who, in your best judgement, are reasonable and trustworthy. Obviously, this ability to weed out bad eggs is a variable one, but you should do your best to do this on the front end, i.e., before you sign a legal contract with someone with whom you are bound under the law to work with and honor the contract.

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Otherwise healthy patients who undergo dental implants are at risk of ending up having heart surgery. As evidenced by the recent situation involving an oral surgeon who performed a number of procedures in his practice including installing implants which became infected, dental implant centers who regularly install “all on 4” dental implants in North Atlanta neighborhoods such as Alpharetta and Roswell, Georgia, must comply with sterilization protocol or risk liability for injures caused by, among other things, non-sterile water.

According to reports, the board of dentistry has  issued a licensure suspension and other penalties to a dentist after one of his patients died and 14 others suffered serious heart infections. At least fifteen patients who were treated at the dental office suffered from bacterial endocarditis. Twelve of the patients required heart surgery and one died, according to the release by the board of dentistry. Interestingly, while it is a dentist that did not follow proper infection protocol, the injuries sustained by the dental patients was not limited to the mouth, but rather, in the most serious of cases, affected the heart.

A continued failure to follow infection protocols exposes patients to a whole host of risks due to infection. This is especially true when dental implant centers install implants upon which dentures are mounted, or as the are commonly referred to in the industry as “all on 4 dentures.” They are called this because the dentures are mounted on 4 dental implants that are installed in the lower jaw for stability. The most serious risk to patients who are treated by dental implant centers of contracting the serious heart infection,” Repeated violations of infection control practices can result in many serious conditions.
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As a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta, I’ve noticed the “My Bald Lawyer” billboards are continuing to pop up on most interstates in the Atlanta area. This got me thinking, all these billboards must be for a reason? Do people really select a lawyer based on something as simple as a catchy billboard (even one as simple as My Bald Lawyer)? Obviously they do because there are so many billboards with so many catchy phrases.

Do people select a lawyer based on something as simple as a catchy slogan Short answer: Yes? But, should they? Obviously they do because there are all these billboards with so many catchy phrases.I have seen Billboards for My Bald Lawyer, Montlick &  Associates, Ken Nugent/ “Just one call that’s all”/”Call Ken,” Morgan & Morgan, Monge & Associates and many others. But what should someone look for when seeking a lawyer to represent them because of a personal injury or malpractice situation.

Want to find the best lawyer in Atlanta, or a civil trial lawyer in Atlanta, or the best civil trial lawyer in Atlanta, etc then the absolute best way to go about that is asking trusted friends and business associates if they can recommend a civil trial lawyer in Atlanta that they have used in the past and have gotten excellent results. Note well, that you are not asking for a referral or a lawyer who they have not used. Too often, lawyer get referred in Georgia because they go to Church with someone, or work with someone’s wife, or golf with a buddy or on an ALTA tennis team with a friend, etc. Find a great lawyer who works hard for you, knows the law, and get excellent results is a lot harder than being recommended to call someone’s buddy because they like him; or because he throws good parties or because his wife works for a big law firm. Don’t fall for that nonsense. Not today, not any day!

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All of us lawyers start out with the best of intentions. Daily stress and requirements wear on us. We read in the papers about lawyers who have strayed and have been punished for doing things that are unethical, unprofessional, or even at times, illegal. This invariably provides fodder for those who relish in putting lawyers down and casting us as less than worthy of accolades. We are bound by a code of ethics and by rules of professionalism that set parameters of what we can and cannot do in most situations. I strive for more.

As a Georgia lawyer, I aspire every day to do the following:

  • to put the interests of my clients before all else.
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As an Atlanta injury lawyer who has been handling personal injury and malpractice cases for over 25 years, I have seen a lot of potential new clients. Many have asked, in one form or another, some version of the following questions:

My wife fell when leaving our neighbors house. She broke her ankle in 3 places, can we recover for her injuries?

I have a quick question, my husband was hit by that train that was in the news and we need help.

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Long-Term Care Insurance Claims

Long-term insurance is one way to protect family assets and hedge against the high cost of long-term care when an elderly family member is no longer able to live on their own or take care of themselves. Because of declining health, these individuals often require long-term care in the form of home care, nursing home care, assisted living, nursing home care and other long-term care arrangements. Unfortunately, long-term care insurance denials are increasing at an alarming rate, partly because insurance companies did not anticipate the number of claims for this type of care or the amount of money each claim would entail.

Long-Term Care Insurance Denials

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