Archives for July 2014

Green Cards and Family Immigration

While family structures vary from one family to another, the word family is synonymous with togetherness. This is especially true when it comes to immigration and what it means to be together as a family in the United States of America. Brownstein & Nguyen, Atlanta Georgia immigration lawyers, have experience working with thousands of families over the years to help them bring them together in our great country.

Visas and Green CardsUnited States citizens and permanent legal residents can petition for a green card for various family members. A United States citizen can also able to sponsor a spouse, child, parent, or sibling, while a permanent legal resident is able to petition for a spouse or child. When petitioning for a family member to be granted a green card, the petitioner is known as the “sponsor” and the recipient family member is known as the “beneficiary.”

There are many steps involved in filling out and acquiring and providing the government with proper supporting documentation for the Petition for Alien Relative form (Form I-130). The process can be quite involved. While one could attempt to complete the form and apply for a visa or green card without a lawyer’s assistance, hiring an experienced immigration attorney may make all of the difference in the world. When filing a petition, it may be approved or denied. If approved, sponsored relatives must know and precisely follow the steps required to complete the processing of their visa. An experienced immigration lawyer will provide guidance in these next steps. Additionally, if a petition should be denied, the appeal process is familiar for experienced immigration lawyers.

If you are considering sponsoring a spouse, child, parent, or sibling, contact Atlanta immigration lawyers Brownstein & Nguyen. When it comes to something as important as family immigration and togetherness, it is okay to lean on experts. Brownstein & Nguyen is  qualified and experienced in navigating the legal landscape of sponsoring a family member for a green card. Contact Brownstein & Nguyen for a free consultation. With over 20 years of experience, our track record speaks for itself.

Do I Have A Case?

Personal injury cases occur in a wide variety of situations and legal categories, including automobile and truck wrecks, medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, premises liability, nursing home abuse and neglect, and products liability. With such a large range of cases fitting under the umbrella of personal injury, potentially implicating different laws and standards, it can be extremely difficult to determine if one has a viable case. However, this is often the question negligence victims and their families face in unfortunate, unexpected and sometimes heartbreaking situations.


With each personal injury case and set of circumstances being uniquely different, it is important to have a competent lawyer review the matter to determine if there is a case. An experienced personal injury lawyer will gather, review and analyze the facts and relevant law to determine whether or not there is cause of action or remedy for the injured party or family. While the details are specific to each situation, there are three basic questions that generally should be considered in reviewing a potential personal injury claim.

Did negligence occur?

An experienced lawyer will look at all facts involved in a potential personal injury case to determine whether or not a mistake or what the law calls “negligence” occurred. Given the multitude of situations potentially giving rise to a legal injury claim, there are many variables and factors that must be reviewed to determine if the responsible party may be held legally liable for a negligent act. Those factors can be very different from one case to another. For example, a determination of negligence in a premises liability case involving a slip and fall depends upon superior knowledge of the landowner or proprietor of a hazardous condition that caused the injury. On the other hand, the standard of care to determine liability in a nursing home abuse or malpractice situation is generally that same care which other healthcare providers would have provided under similar circumstances, as determined by an appropriate medical professional. These tests and the resulting analyses of liability in a particular case are dramatically different.

Did the negligence directly cause a personal injury?

Assuming a mistake or negligent act occurred, the next inquiry is whether that mistake directly caused or contributed to the victim’s injury. While seemingly commonsense, this question can be quite tricky legally, and the analysis will be quite different from case to case. For example, in a situation of nursing home abuse and negligent care resulting in infected bedsores, one must prove that the bedsores and resulting infection and damages were directly caused by a lack of proper patient and skin care, and not some other source (such as a person’s pre-existing health conditions or infection resulting from a pathogen). Or in a premises liability case involving negligent security, a question to be asked and answered might be whether the landlord’s failure to provide adequate security was the legal cause of the client’s injuries, or whether a criminal act or some other event was the direct cause of injury. Again, an experienced personal injury lawyer can properly assess legal causation issues that could affect a case.

Do the injuries warrant a legal case?

While injuries can vary from incident to incident, in general the severity or permanence of the injury may dictate whether a legal claim or lawsuit can be economically pursued. Some cases, such as wrongful death, are generally presumed to have significant damages that are sufficient to warrant prosecution of an expensive, time and resource-consuming case such as a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor or hospital. But what about an automobile wreck where the victim had low back pain that soon resolved with conservative treatment such as physical therapy and resulted in relatively small medical bills. Does that situation warrant taking a case to trial where the jury or judge might award medical bills and perhaps only a little more for pain and suffering? On the other hand, a motor vehicle collision resulting in broken bones, brain trauma or internal injuries could have very significant damages making it economically feasible to litigate and try a case with problematic or weak liability. Properly and realistically evaluating damages (based on the lawyer’s experience and knowledge) is an important aspect of the overall assessment of any personal injury case.

No matter the situation, if a personal injury occurred, it is essential for an experienced personal injury lawyer to consider the facts and evidence involved. The trial attorneys at Brownstein and Nguyen have decades of experience consulting with injury victims and successfully handling personal injury cases in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury – no matter how severe – and would like to find out if you have a case, contact Brownstein and Nguyen. Personal injury consultations are always free.

Healthcare Whistleblower Claims Based on Self-Referral Arrangements

In an effort to improve and maintain integrity in our healthcare system, Congress passed the Stark Law (also known as the Efforts in Patient Referrals Act) and Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). These laws, modified over the years, and regulations enacted under them prohibit certain referral arrangements and payments, or kickbacks, for the referral of designated health services (DHS).

When receiving medical care, patients expect doctors to uphold the ideal of the hippocratic oath and to make treatment decisions based solely on a determination of the patient’s best interests. Unfortunately, some doctors and healthcare providers violate the public trust by engaging in illegal referral or kickback schemes motivated by profit, not the well-being of patients. The Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute exist to prevent and punish such arrangements. These laws not only protect patients, but under the False Claims Act they allow the government (through qui tam lawsuits filed by private citizens) to recover taxpayer dollars unjustly received by healthcare providers who choose to abuse the system.Whistleblowing

A recent example of a healthcare whistleblower lawsuit involving the very type of abuses the Stark Law and AKS were designed to address is the case of U.S. ex rel. Baklid-Kunz v. Halifax Hospital Medical Center and Halifax Staffing, Inc. In that case, filed in 2009 by Halifax Hospital’s former director of physician services, the hospital was accused of improperly compensating medical oncologists and neurosurgeons for referring patients to the hospital for procedures. The government sought to recover over $34 million in fraudulent Medicare claims it claimed resulted from an unlawful compensation plan where doctors received bonuses based on the profits of the hospital’s medical oncology department. With treble damages and substantial civil penalties under Stark Law, the total award against the hospital could have topped $1 billion. In March 2014, on the eve of trial, the hospital agreed to pay $85 million to settle the case. Daniel Levinson, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, commented that “[p]atients deserve to know that recommendations are based on sound medical practice, not illegal financial relationships between providers.”

Whistleblowing in the healthcare field and claims based on self-referral arrangements are explored more in-depth in Healthcare Whistleblower Claims Based on Self-Referral Arrangements, an article co-authored by Atlanta attorneys Jay Brownstein and Kevin Little. In it, the authors describe the important role the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute play in maintaining the integrity of our healthcare system.

If you have questions or concerns about healthcare whistleblowing, contact Brownstein & Nguyen today for a consultation.

Keys to Success in Starting Your Own Business In Atlanta

You’ve worked hard pursuing your dream of owning your own business. But you may not see potential legal pitfalls that could sidetrack or completely derail your new venture. That is to be expected, since you likely do not have the legal training or experience necessary to recognize legal issues affecting a particular business. At Brownstein and Nguyen, we specialize in business law and business litigation. We have over 25 years of experience working with small business owners and have seen first-hand the benefits of anticipating and proactively addressing legal issues upfront. Unfortunately, we have also seen the consequences of failing to setup a business with appropriate legal measures in place.

Keys to SuccessThere are four key questions that every small business owner should absolutely know the answers to. This may mean a little more work up front. But expending the time and effort in the beginning is a small price to pay, compared to the headaches and pain you will avoid in the future.

Are my documents in order?

Whether running a brick and mortar or virtual business, it is critical that all necessary licenses, applications, and agreements are properly completed, in place and complied with. Depending on the business, this could include entering into a business lease agreement; applying for all necessary city, county and state licenses; compliance with zoning, labor, tax and other local or state regulations; and registration of business documents.

How should I set up my business?

It is important to clearly define whether you are going into business as an individual or with partners, and consequently what legal business model best suits your needs. There is no “one size fits all” model for starting a business, and our lawyers at Brownstein and Nguyen can help determine if your business would be best established as a sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or partnership. Regardless of the entity form, it is imperative that all necessary incorporation or other establishment documents and agreements be prepared and executed by all necessary parties.

What about employees?

If you will be employing individuals, it is important to make sure that employment policies and manuals and, if applicable, employment agreements, be properly setup or reviewed. As with any business agreement, terms and expectations of employees must be clearly defined and communicated to employees. In addition, a business must comply with all state and federal employment regulations including employee classification and compensation (wage and hour laws), payroll filings, unemployment laws, etc.

What if our business needs to end?

Many business owners choose to dissolve their business for various reasons. Whether a change in the economy, the sale of a company, or a change of direction, it is important that an agreement be worked out in advance. Consider making sure that your legal documentation covers upfront the “what ifs” of business closure or dissolution.

If you are planning to start a business in Atlanta or Georgia, or already own a small business and want to make sure that you are legally covered, contact Brownstein and Nguyen for a consultation. You will receive the benefit of our years of experience, legal knowledge and practical advice to help your business avoid common legal mistakes.

Personal Injury Myths

Lawyer and attorney jokes are commonplace. Contrary to popular belief, most lawyers do have a sense of humor. However, many jokes and the underlying public’s negative perceptions serve to perpetuate damaging myths about personal injury lawyers and cases that are simply not true. For our civil justice system to work for everyone, it is important that the public be well-informed. So, we would like to take a moment to address a few common myths that we hear.

Dishonest Lawyer-Not at Brownstein and Nguyen

1. Personal injury lawyers are ambulance chasers

Not all lawyers are the same. Some spend enormous amounts of money on advertising, whether on television, buses, or the internet. Unfortunately, some ads are tasteful while others are not. Although advertising is legal, paying a non-lawyer a referral fee for a case is not. Unfortunately, there are lawyers who use runners and similar unlawful schemes to obtain clients. The majority of competent, highly-skilled lawyers – the kind you would want handling your case – must rely primarily on their reputation, experience and personal referrals to maintain their practices. At Brownstein & Nguyen, we have over 25 years of experience representing plaintiffs and personal injury clients. Our clients come to us from attorney and other referrals based on our reputation and results. We pride ourselves in our ethics and professionalism, and never engage in dishonest or improper means in obtaining clients.

2. Personal injury lawyers are only interested in making money

Our founding attorneys have built our practice around just a few areas of law, including personal injury law. While a law practice is a business, our case selection decisions are not based solely on economics. We don’t take on every case. However, many of the personal injury cases we do take for well-deserving clients are risky and difficult, and have often been rejected by other lawyers. We take on these cases because our primary objective and priority is helping people whose lives have been disrupted, sometimes even shattered, as a result of an automobile accident, medical malpractice, or other injury. Our goal is to make sure that our clients will be taken care of financially in order to help piece together their lives after a tragic event.

3. If my injuries are minor, I do not need a personal injury lawyer

Even seemingly minor injuries may necessitate hiring an attorney. Many times, an auto accident may not seem major; perhaps it looks like just a fender bender. However, if a car has sustained damage, there’s a good chance that the persons involved may have experienced an injury, as well. This is because of physics and the forces involved in collisions between steel objects weighing several thousand pounds and movable human objects inside of them. Often, muscle and other soft-tissue strains, sprains or soreness are not felt until several days after a collision. Even more serious injuries may not be discovered until days, weeks or even months later. If you or a loved one is in a truck or car wreck, you should first and foremost seek medical treatment for your injuries, without delay.

4. Personal injury lawyers are dishonest and can’t be trusted

Reputable lawyers play by the rules, not only in how they obtain clients but also in how they handle cases. Lawyers are bound by strict professional rules of ethics and are subject to harsh discipline, including suspension or even disbarment, for violating those rules. Lawyers are also considered officers of the court and owe duties of candor and honesty to clients, parties, opposing counsel, and the courts. At Brownstein & Nguyen, we cherish our professional reputation as honest and ethical attorneys , and would never do anything to damage our reputation as premier personal injury lawyers in Atlanta. We tell clients the hard truths about their cases; we are professional and respectful in our dealings with opposing parties and counsel; and we use facts and evidence to aggressively and honestly represent our clients and uphold the truth. We win cases, the right way.

If you or someone you know has experienced a personal injury due to an automobile or trucking accident, medical malpractice, elder abuse or other negligence and would like a free consultation, contact Brownstein and Nguyen personal injury attorneys in Atlanta. With our years of expertise, our reputation, and our willingness to represent the injured and needy in tough cases, we promise you will receive the attention and high caliber legal representation you deserve.