Online Bachelors Degree in Law and Legal Studies


Law, as a discipline, is vast and ever-evolving. This, in turn, makes legal studies very dynamic. Legal studies have through the ages found favor with students and with the introduction of paralegal studies and increasing demand for paralegals, a number of individuals are also taking up paralegal studies.

Online education now makes it possible to pursue a bachelor’s degree in law and legal studies online via online colleges.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Law & Legal Studies – Overview

About: The online bachelor’s degree in law and legal studies is ideally designed for those who are interested in the legal process, law enforcement, or public service. It also finds favor with those who wish to go to law school. The online bachelor’s degree program provides a strong foundation in legal principles and processes.

Online Colleges: A number of online colleges offer online bachelor’s programs in law and legal studies.
The most popular and reputed online schools/colleges/universities offering the online bachelor’s degree in legal studies are – Kaplan University, Walden University Online, Western International University, and Strayer University. The top colleges to pursue online degrees in paralegal studies at the bachelor’s level are – Kaplan University, Everest University Online, and Virginia College.

Coursework: The coursework in an online bachelor’s degree in law and legal studies includes lessons in – Legal Language, Legal Brief Writing, Legal Administration, the American Legal System, Legal Administration and Legal Ethics, among others. The coursework is so designed as to provide a student a strong foundation in the workings and intricacies of the law.

Prospects: An online bachelor’s degree in law and legal studies opens up a plethora of opportunities both study-wise and work-wise. With your online bachelor’s degree you could go on to pursue graduate studies in law or even go to law school. You will be in a position to assist lawyers and attorneys in their cases by way of research, drafting, and interviewing. This will entitle you to work in entry level positions (such as those of a paralegal, legal assistant, legal administrative assistant, legal secretary, or court reporter) in a variety of legal settings such as in corporate offices, law enforcement agencies, and/or security service organizations.

Merits: An online bachelor’s degree in law and legal studies provides just the right start to those who wish to work in the legal field and aspiring lawyers and attorneys. The coursework helps enhance much-needed skills. And thanks to an online education, an online bachelor’s degree in law and legal studies can be completed in lesser time as compared to a traditional in-classroom degree. Besides, the degrees are offered by some of the most popular and respected online colleges and some of them are listed above. Above all, the flexibility that online degrees offer, make them popular among students and professionals alike.

The online bachelor’s degree program is a particularly superlative choice for those who seek to know and learn about the law and the legal system but by reason of work or family obligations are unable to do so via traditional on-campus degrees. Who wants to drive to campus, if even possible, on Tuesday and Thursday nights for instance, 6 to 9 pm, for several years? People with varying work schedules and/or a family, this is just not feasible.

Radar Detectors – Their Benefits and Knowing the Law

Have you ever had a speeding ticket? If so, owning a radar detector may be just what you need. They make motorists aware that their speed is being detected by a police or law enforcement officer. This device alerts drivers so they can reduce their speed to avoid speeding tickets. Below are some additional benefits and laws associated with owning a radar detector.


One of the best benefits of owning a radar detector is money savings. Having just one speeding ticket can be very costly. First, there is the cost of the ticket based on the number of miles you exceed the speed limit. Then, if you choose to fight the ticket you would incur lawyer and/or court costs. Finally, you may lose wages during time spent in court. All these events can add up to a lot of money.

Another benefit is time savings. Getting pulled over for a speeding violation is time consuming as you wait for the police officer to process your license and issue the ticket. Having a detector can help you avoid these situations and get you to your destination on time.

You can also save a great deal of stress. If you get pulled over for speeding you could be late for work, an important meeting, or being home with your family. All of these situations can create a lot of stress. Owning this device can help eliminate some of this stress from your life.

Finally, many owners agree that using a radar detector has a positive effect on their driving behavior. When drivers are alerted by this device it helps them become more conscious about keeping within the speed limits. By becoming more aware of the speed limits, vehicle operators often become safer drivers.


Law varies from state to state, but radar detectors are generally legal in private vehicles in all locations except Virginia, Washington DC, and on US Military Bases. According to federal law, the radar detector is illegal in commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds and all vehicles over 18,000 pounds. In addition, radar/laser scramblers are not legal to use in California, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington DC and Canada.

There are many benefits that come with owning a radar detector. They help reduce the incidence of speeding tickets which saves money, time, and stress and also help to improve and maintain a clean driving record. Knowing what areas allow the use of them is also important for avoiding unwanted traffic violations.

Securing Your Dog While Traveling May Soon Be Law

You cannot help but smile when you see a happy dog hanging his head out of a car window. It’s because of this happiness and sense of freedom that makes it hard to convince their owners that their pet will be equally as happy tethered or sitting in a crate. It is even harder trying to convince the pet. But with more pets traveling by auto, law enforcement agencies and animal advocates are campaigning hard against distracted driving while pushing equally as hard for seat-belt harnesses, car seats and other restraints for dogs which still offer some freedom of movement and a window view. In 2009, about 89% of pets were unrestrained while traveling in the car which is an improvement from 2008 when 98% were unsecured. As it stands now, there are no federal or state laws requiring securing your pet while traveling in the car. In case of an accident or hitting the brakes at 50 miles an hour, an unsecured dog becomes a projectile in the car. This is a safety hazard to the dog and to the passengers in the car. According to the American Pet Products Association, nearly 25% of dog owners take them in the car when traveling compared to 16% ten years ago. Since more pet owners take their companions on the road with them, the sale of dog-travel pet products are on the rise as well. Sales of car harnesses which straps around a dog’s body and attaches to a seat belt are most preferred with sales doubling annually since 2007. Booster seats which hook around the car headrest and tethers a small dog, keeping it off of the owner’s lap, are also a top seller. It has the additional benefit of keeping the car cleaner. Besides harnesses and booster seats, there are barriers for SUV’s and steel cargo barriers for wagons which keep the dog in the luggage area and away from the driver. If a 60-pound unbelted child is traveling in the back seat of a car going 30 mph, in case of a sudden stop, would become 2,700 pounds of force. A pet that size would become like a baby elephant. Other problems with unsecured pets in cars is in the case of an accident, the dog runs into traffic or acts aggressively toward emergency workers who are aiding victims. Most Pet Insurance auto claims are related to unrestrained animals jumping from a moving vehicle. Some state legislators and law-enforcement officials are fighting for tougher regulations dealing with pets traveling in cars. In Hawaii, drivers cannot hold animals in their lap or have them close enough to interfere with the driver’s ability to control his/her vehicle and California, Virginia, and Oregon have introduced similar measures though none have been made a law. In the case of an accident where airbags are deployed, a driver may sustain minor cuts and bruises but a small dog, sleeping in the front passenger seat can suffer internal injuries and die.

All of these arguments for restraining your pet while traveling are good arguments but what about a pilot study done by the Center for Pet Safety, that states pet safety restraints used in vehicles may be unsafe, therefore negating the theory of preventing your pet from becoming a projectile in case of an accident? The CPS is a nonprofit organization conducting a study to define safe travel for both companion animals and their owners. There are no current specific safety standards concerning animal restraints and manufacture testing is not required. Though researchers agree that tethering or containing ones pet helps reduce distracted drivers, they do not prevent your pet from becoming a projectile in the case of an accident.

In the study, the harness size selected was based on six of the top ten dog breeds which were within the “large” harness category. A crash test dog was designed, weighed and instrumented for data collection. No live animals were used in the study. Twelve restraints from major brands purchased online were used, out of which four were used as a “control group”. This group based its decision on product strengths and design and reputed marketplace popularity. In their pilot study, there was a 100% failure rate of the set of four of the most popular animal travel harnesses crash tested.

There is more that needs to be addressed and studied in defining travel safety for your pet; the issue of his becoming a projectile being just one. Funding is needed to support these studies with a large amount coming from donations. Hopefully, through this funding, safely traveling with your pet will be comparable to the safety of traveling with children. Securing your pet while traveling is the responsible thing to do for both you and your pet. Some protection is better than nothing, right? You don’t want to jeopardize your safety and that of your pet in the case of a sudden stop or accident. It is already law in some states and will more than likely become law in all states within a few years so you may as well get your pet used to wearing one now.

The Top 10 Myths about the Virginia Tech Massacre

We all know that on April 16th, 2007, a new Day That Shall Live in Infamy was tragically born when a 23-year-old South Korean man who had lived in the US since he was eight and was attending a good American university in the state of Virginia shot to death 32 students and faculty before committing suicide. 33 senseless deaths by guns–the worst non-gang related gun incident in modern American history, and a chilling encore to the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 which claimed 13 lives.

Needless to say there have been some very strong reactions among the American citizenry, not to mention the South Koreans who feel a collective sense of guilt (needlessly). The expected calls for stricter regulations and the finger-pointing emerged immediately while relatives, friends, and fellow students grieved for their lost ones.

But who is offering real solutions? Are most people thinking rationally, considering the facts, at this stage? There are 10 myths emerging regarding the Virginia Tech Massacre that need to be closely analyzed, with facts considered, before we end up compounding the tragedy.

Myth #1. Tighter gun control laws would have prevented that massacre.

It happens all the time: someone does something wrong with something and people want the something taken away…from everybody. Does it work for the betterment of society? No.

Consider what we found at Rapid Intelligence’s Factbites. “Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, 13 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally ill, and others, who were unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated….That places total victims who lost their lives because of gun control at approximately 56 million in the last century.” “Gun-control laws have noticeably reduced gun ownership in some states, with the result that for each 1% reduction in gun ownership there was a 3% increase in violent crime…with no academic evidence that gun regulations prevent crime, and plenty of indications that they actually encourage it, we nonetheless are now debating which new gun control laws to pass.”

Myth #2. Virginia’s gun laws are too loose.

Is that so? We found something very interesting when we searched at Factbites. “The fatuity of gun-control laws is nowhere better illustrated than in Virginia, where high-school students in rural areas have a long tradition of going hunting in the morning.” Furthermore, according to the FBI, Virginia’s background check regulations for buying guns are the most rigorous and the best of any of the 50 states.

Myth #3. This is exactly the kind of thing that happens in “gun-toter” states like Virginia.

With all those teenagers in Virginia bearing arms, that’s surely the case, right? Not exactly. Rapid Intelligence’s StateMaster statistics service tells us that Virginia only ranks 25th among states with regards to the number of gun-related deaths per 100,000 people in the state.

Myth #4. The US Constitution’s Second Amendment encourages gun crimes to flourish in America.

At first, there seems to be something to this. Rapid Intelligence’s NationMaster statistics service reveals that the United States ranks fourth among all nations for the most murders committed with guns annually. The US also ranks eighth among all nations in the world for most murders per capita annually with guns.

But in this context, the stats are deceiving–because there is additional information.

According to ‘The Armed Citizen’, “Studies indicate that firearms are used more than two million times a year for personal protection, and that the presence of a firearm, without a shot being fired, prevents crime in many instances. Shooting usually can be justified only where crime constitutes an immediate, imminent threat to life, limb, or, in some cases, property.” Recent instances of this noble use of guns–made available to citizens by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution–include Topeka, Kansas gas station owner Dean Yee using his gun to protect himself against two armed robbers who demanded money from him at gunpoint. Yee shot one robber and that caused the other one to flee. Had Yee not had his concealed weapon permit and his gun, he would very likely have been shot by the robbers–perhaps to death. These instances also include Las Vegas homeowner Raymond Hill, who was awakened in the night by his 12-year-old daughter and told by her that two armed men were breaking into their house. Hill loaded his weapon, called the police, then went downstairs and killed one of the burglars, who was coming into Hill’s house through a window from which he had removed the screen. The other burglar fled on a bicycle, but police nabbed him.

It is most logical to conclude that what the statistics about US gun murders really reveals is that if more Americans took advantage of their Second Amendment rights, violent crime rates would go down–not up.

Myth #5. The US needs to follow the lead of other Western nations like the UK and Australia and make just about every gun illegal to private citizens.

That would at least mostly rid the nation of all the Seung-Hui Cho threats, wouldn’t it? This is what a Factbites search came up with: “Ironically, both [Trent] Lott and Handgun Control acknowledge that the reams of gun control laws on the books in Washington and in all 50 states have been ineffective in eradicating mass shootings or preventing children from bringing weapons to school…Since Australia banned private ownership of most guns in 1996, crime has risen dramatically on that continent, prompting critics of U.S. gun control efforts to issue new warnings of what life in America could be like if Congress ever bans firearms.”

There is also something else to consider. The United States is not even placed among the top 48 nations of the world in terms of police per capita. It is far more logical to conclude that we need more police officers to enforce the laws that are already on the books, not more laws. More police with guns, in fact.

Myth #6. “Mass shootings have come to define our nation”, obviously because of the “easy access to increasingly lethal firearms that make mass killings possible.”

Josh Sugarmann’s irresponsible quote, which he stated as direct reflection on the Virginia Tech massacre, is not only void of statistical evidence, it does not fit the facts as they have been observed. While it’s true that mass shootings began happening more frequently than previously in the US in the 1960s, if such things have “come to define our nation”, then so have car accidents and plane crashes, and that would just have to be because far too many people are privileged to be able to drive or fly. Sugarmann’s quote is toxically emotional.

Turning to a search at Rapid Intelligence’s Factbites reveals the fact is that “Mass shootings essentially disappear in States that pass laws allowing qualified citizens to carry concealed handguns…So, to conclude, the facts are clear–more firearms in the hands of honest, responsible American citizens means the thugs on the streets commit less violent crimes, and the thugs in the government are less likely to assault the citizenry with storm trooper police state tactics of murder and genocide… it is lamentable that 30,000 Americans die yearly from firearms.”

Myth #7. This massacre proves that Americans have too many liberties and need to have their rights curtailed.

Cho was South Korean, not American, although he clearly had assimilated into American culture. Beyond that fact, let’s look at a couple of statistics at NationMaster.

Do you enjoy having the freedom to choose your own lifestyle (provided that you work for what you want)? Most people do. Let’s note that South Korea, the nation from which Cho came originally, is not among the leading nations for offering freedom of lifestyle choice; the US ranks second in the world, just barely behind Finland. In other words, the person who came from the more suppressive culture was the one who abused the freedom of decision making that US citizens enjoy. Another statistic at NationMaster shows forth that the worst mass shooting by an individual in American history was carried out by someone who had a background of significant cultural and economic suppression of freedom compared to what Americans enjoy. And keep in mind, he raged against “rich kids”–those with the privileges that he clearly coveted (and would have been able to enjoy for the rest of his life had he peacefully graduated from the American university he attended). Cho murdered because, in his darkened mind at least, he was prevented from having freedom–not because he had too much of it. While Cho was enjoying a life of upper middle class privilege, he clearly had the suppression and poverty of his boyhood years imprinted on his psyche–he considered himself a “have not” among “haves”.

Myth #8. Cho only did what he did because he was bullied by the privileged American rich kids who surrounded him; it was not really his fault, but the fault of the Americans who bring these things on themselves.

Virginia Tech is a good school, but it is not the Ivy League school that so many Korean parents covet for their children; and the students at Virginia Tech do not come from particularly affluent families. Cho’s parents were the owners of a $400,000 house that Cho grew up in later years; he would have to have been stretching his imagination a long way to believe that he was surrounded by super-wealthy white kids who were somehow unfairly advantaged or keeping him down. Cho had acquaintances among the white American students who went out of their way to try to include him in fun, college-student-type activities. Cho in fact accompanied them sometimes when they went out, and he would drink beer with them and engage in a game of tossing ping-pong balls into glasses of beer; he was apparently quite adept at it, too. But he played the games without expression.

Even before he went to the university, Cho was known to be sullen and quiet among his family. One thing he enjoyed a lot was playing video games–something he had in common with Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the pair of killers at the Columbine high school massacre-shooting in 1999 whom Cho cited in his twisted manifesto as one of his inspirations. Cho had no history of being picked on except when he set himself up to be looked at strangely–such as by writing the disgusting plays he wrote for English class, or deliberately reading aloud English literature passes in a dark, guttural accent. Or writing down his name as “?”. Cho was mentally diseased long before he went to Virginia Tech. His outgoing older sister came out just fine–at an Ivy League school called Princeton, where she would have been surrounded by the sons and daughters of millionaires. If Cho had been so abused and scarred by America, then how come she hadn’t?

Myth #9. The gun shops that sold Cho his guns should have known better and should be held legally accountable and perhaps forced to shut down.

The FBI and the Virginia State Police concur that the local gun shop, Roanoke Firearms, acted in full compliance with the state and the federal law. A background check was performed and Seung-Hui Cho was found clean. Although Cho did have mental problems, he was not listed as a possible danger because he had never been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. When he was taken to a mental ward once, he was only held overnight, did not resist, and was deemed of sound (even if bleak) mind by a professional psychiatrist. This was in spite of the fact that a special justice had, in 2005, found Cho mentally ill.

The other gun shop, which sold Cho one of his weapons via the Internet, was in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and it, too, filled out the right paperwork and did the background check that it was supposed to do.

While it is perfectly reasonable to consider revising the law so that it is more comprehensive (meaning Cho’s visit to the mental ward would have shown up in his record as would his having been found “mentally ill”), it is completely absurd to point a blaming finger at the gun shops. The businesses did exactly what the law says they are to do. Suing them or shutting them down will accomplish nothing except to harm the business owners and their employees.

Myth #10. Poor Seung-Hui Cho was deeply troubled. Somebody should have helped him when he was crying out for help, and then this would never have happened. We brought it on ourselves with our indifferent society.

There is nothing evidential to back up the notion that Cho was deeply troubled by anything other than his own self-centeredness. Cho was not a victim of anything or anyone. In the words of one of his former poetry and creative writing professors, Cho “was just mean”. She goes on to say, “We’re talking about [his being a victim] and crap like that, but troubled youngsters get drunk and jump off buildings; troubled youngsters drink and drive…I’ve taught crazy people…It was the meanness that bothered me…[In his writings] the threats seemed to be underneath the surface.”

If anything, the United States needs to wake up to the realization that there are mean young people out there, full of self-centered anger for no good reason, and they neither need nor want “help”. They need to be straightened out.

The US ranks third in the world in murders committed by young people (ages 15-24). That puts the U.S. in the company of two very violence-and-corruption-prone South American nations and a Russia still struggling its way from the shards of Communism to the building of a free, capitalist-based society. In the light of a lot of Americans’ reactions to the Virginia Tech Massacre, we really need to take a shot of cold reality and wake ourselves up, instead of making ourselves sick with guilt.

A Summary of Virginia Medical Malpractice Laws

In many respects, Virginia has been more conservative about modifying the common law than its sister states. To the extent modifications have been approved, many restrict rather than expand the rights of the victims of medical negligence. For example, Virginia has adopted three major modifications of medical malpractice law: a damage cap, screening of proposed lawsuits by a medical review panel, and a state fund to compensate victims of birth-related neurological injuries. Much of the legislation specific to medical malpractice can be found in the Medical Malpractice Act, Va. Code Ann. §§ 8.01-581.1 to 8.01-581.20.

Statutes of Limitations

All medical malpractice actions for injury (as opposed to death) must be brought within two years from the date the cause of action accrued. Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-243(A). In § 8.01-230, a cause of action “accrues” at the time of injury: “the cause of action shall be deemed to accrue and the prescribed limitation period shall begin to run from the date the injury is sustained in the case of injury to the person… and not when the resulting damage is discovered.”

This two-year limitation has long been applicable, and strictly enforced, in Virginia. Virginia is one of the minority states that use the “date-of-the-act” rule, which means that the plaintiff must file suit within two years of the date of the injury regardless of how obscure or undiscoverable the injury might have been. Exceptions to the two-year rule are (i) cases involving minors or mentally incompetent people who are in law regarded as unable to know their legal rights and (ii) cases where the injury was fraudulently concealed from the person.

The Virginia Supreme Court rejected the judicial adoption of a discovery rule, Nunnally v. Artis, 254 Va. 247, 492 S.E.2d 126, (1997), but held that “continuing treatment for the same conditions” tolls the statute of limitations until treatment ends. Grubbs v. Rawls, 235 Va. 607, 369 S.E.2d 683 (1988). The court defined “continuous treatment” as not “mere continuity of a general physician-patient relationship; we mean diagnosis and treatment for the same relating illness or injuries, continuing after the alleged act of malpractice.” The court acknowledged, however, the rule would not apply to a single, isolated act of malpractice. Farley v. Goode, 219 Va. 969, 252 S.E.2d 594 (1979). In other words, when an act of malpractice occurred and that physician continued to see the patient over a course of years for an unrelated condition, the rule would not apply.

In foreign object cases (surgical sponges, needles, etc.) and cases of fraud or concealment (i.e., alteration of medical records) the statute is extended to one year from the date the object or injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. However, this extension is subject to a ten-year limit from the time the cause of action accrued. Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-243(C).

In cases in which the health care provider’s negligence caused the patient’s death (Wrongful Death Claims), suit must be filed within two years of death. Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-244(B).

If a person entitled to bring a personal action dies with no such action pending before the expiration of [the two-year] limitation period… then an action may be commenced by the decedent’s personal representative before the expiration of the limitation period… or within one year after his qualification as personal representative, whichever occurs later.

However, § 8.01-229(B)(6) states that:

[i]f there is an interval of more than two years between the death of any person in whose favor . . . a cause of action has accrued or shall subsequently accrue and the qualification of such person’s personal representative, such personal representative shall, for the purposes of [the statute], be deemed to have qualified on the last day of such two-year period.

A parent’s action for medical expenses caused by injury to a minor must be brought within five years. Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-243(B). A minor’s medical malpractice action for injury or death must be commenced within two years from the date of the last act of negligence, unless the child is less than eight years of age, in which case the action must be brought by the child’s tenth birthday. Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-243.1. The Virginia Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of this statute. Willis v. Mullett, 263 Va. 653, 561 S.E.2d 705 (2002). Incapacity (typically a substantial mental or physical handicap) also tolls the running of the statute of limitations during the period of incapacity. Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-229(A).

Contributory or Comparative Negligence

Virginia recognizes the doctrine of contributory negligence in medical malpractice cases. A plaintiff’s contributory negligence may bar her recovery entirely, but the patient’s negligence must be concurrent with the defendant’s negligence. Sawyer v. Comerci, 264 Va. 68, 563 S.E.2d 748 (2002); Ponirakis v. Choi, 262 Va. 119, 546 S.E.2d 707 (2001).

Joint and Several Liability

Virginia imposes joint and several liability on joint tortfeasors. Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-443. Thus, any joint tortfeasor against whom judgment is entered is liable to the plaintiff for the entire judgment, regardless of the tortfeasor’s degree or percentage of fault. For example, in a hospital setting, if the attending doctor and nurse are both negligent, then each one can be held responsible for the patient’s entire injury even if part of that injury was caused by the other’s negligence.

Vicarious Liability

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, hospitals in Virginia are vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees but not that of independent contractors. McDonald v. Hampton Training School for Nurses, 254 Va. 79, 486 S.E.2d 299 (1997). Whether a physician should be considered an employee is a question of fact not to be determined by whether the hospital calls him one, but by the factors of selection and engagement, payment of compensation, power of dismissal, and (most importantly) power to control the physician’s work. A physician’s exercise of professional judgment in the performance of professional duties is a factor, but not the only factor, in deciding whether the hospital has the power to control his work. There is also authority for holding a hospital liable for the act of a physician on the theory of negligent credentialing. Stottlemyer v. Ghramm, 2001 Va. Cir. LEXIS 501 (Va. Cir. Ct. July 13, 2001)(affirmed at 2004 Va. LEXIS 99 (2004). In other words, a hospital can be held legally responsible for granting hospital admission and treatment privileges to an unqualified physician.

Expert Testimony

Except for rare cases within the common knowledge and experience of lay jurors, expert testimony is necessary to establish the standard of care, a deviation from the standard, and the proximate cause of injury. Perdieu v. Blackstone Family Practice Center, Inc., 264 Va. 408, 568 S.E.2d 703 (2002). To testify as an expert on the standard of care a witness must demonstrate expert knowledge of the standards of the defendant’s specialty and have had an active clinical practice in either the defendant’s specialty, or a related field of medicine, within one year of the date of the alleged act or omission. Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-581.20.

State Labor Laws in Virginia

Virginia is a beautiful state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Let me tell you that it is an excellent place to work and the working conditions are also very good over here. The Virginia labor and employment laws are intended to enforces the wage act and protect other important rights including minimum wage and the right to work.

Some of the state labor laws which are applicable in this state are as follows:

1. Minimum wage rate
According to federal fair labor standards act, an employee who has spouse, children, and parents must receive the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

2. Equal salary irrespective of gender
This law prohibits discrimination in pay based on gender. Both male and female are entitled to receive equal pay in this state for the same amount and kind of work.

3. Hiring
Well, no state government or court binds the employer to hire the best candidates. Owners are free to hire the candidate of their choice. However they cannot differentiate the candidates on the basis of age, color, creed, ancestry, arrest record, disability, marital status, nationality, race, sex etc.

4. References
A previous employer is free to provide any non-confidential information about a previous employee, so long as it is true and is not provided to unkindly harm the employee. An employer who provides false information that disparages the employee may be liable for defamation.

5. Discrimination and wrongful treatment
The owners in this state are not allowed to terminate or discriminate employees on the basis of age, color, creed, ancestry, arrest record, disability, marital status, nationality, race, sex etc. If any employer is found to distinguish on this basis then severe action is taken against him or her.

6. Injury caused at work place
If any worker is injured during the working hours then the employer will have to pay the compensation to the employee according to some laws related to the work place injury.

7. Safety and health protection
According to this law each owner should furnish to his workers, a place of employment which is free from any kind of hazards that may cause serious physical harm to the workers. Each owner must comply with occupational safety and health standards, rules, regulations and orders issued as per the laws.

Well, these are some of the rules that are prevailing in this state. You must strictly abide them if you are an employee or an employer.

What Are the Laws For Shipping Wine Internationally?

Navigating through the complex world of international wine shipping is a daunting task. But this doesn’t mean that it cannot be done. It can be puzzling because laws vary from state to state and from country to country. Still, unlike the U.S., most countries don’t impose strict regulations on the shipment of alcohol. Once wine makes its way out of the country, it usually arrives to its place of destination without any problems. What creates the problem is sending wine from another country to the U.S. State laws may prevent your wine from arriving at your destination as planned when shipping to the U.S. So to avoid this, it is good to know the “ins and outs” of international wine shipment.

Shipping wine from one state to another country, or vice versa, can be illegal. States that offer reciprocal status such as California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin will not be so imposing when it comes to shipping alcoholic beverages from one state to another. The reverse is also true because of the lenient laws being allowed on wine shipments to these states. What poses a problem though, are the other states, not mentioned, that offer restrictive status or a partial ban on the shipment of large quantities of wine. Some states require a license to ship alcoholic beverages into and out of the state.

Worldwide courier services such as DHL, FedEx and UPS offer services tailored to the shipment of wine and spirits. They are a source of extensive information regarding laws concerning wine shipping and they often post this information online. Still they have requirements that must be followed. One stipulation is that the documentation process must be electronic. In addition, a Wine Shippers Agreement must be completed before shipping any bottles. Finally, there are package requirements that must be fulfilled by the shipper. The packaging must be made of molded polystyrene while the box must be made of corrugated cardboard.

If you are shipping wine to sell in the US, many Google-searchable wine buyers in the US can guide you on how to do it. They have a “home court advantage” when it comes to these laws. They also know which laws are enforceable in each individual state. They will advise you as to how to prepare certain documents, such as the bill of lading and any export documents.

Regardless, it is important to do your research ahead of time. The internet makes this easy; all of the information is at your fingertips. When you’ve got a good idea of what the shipping laws are in the state you want to ship to, perform a Google search for “wine buyers”, or something similar, and begin finding the wine buyer that best suits your needs.

Discover Some of the World’s Strange Traffic Laws

Most of the time, you appear courteous and act like true law-abiding citizens of the nation, following all the traffic rules. These rules are meant to protect you from being fined, or getting jailed for breaking a law, that you might be simply unaware of. For instance, if you unintentionally broke the law, DUI attorney will still charge you. The charges can be related to cases regarding personal injury, or even damaging a personal property. Whereas, on the other hand, DUI lawyer helps you avoid jail or license suspension, if you have committed some traffic offenses. However, in addition to the traffic rules, there exist some strange traffic laws that can devastate you.

The rules of the road are practices and procedures that everyone is required to follow. They apply to all road users, and are of special importance to motorists and cyclists. Nonetheless, there exist some arcane and strange laws around the world that can give you a costly ticket and lead you to jail. Most of these traffic laws are outdated, but are still enforced theoretically and practically, as they are still on the books. In fact, these traffic laws are not confined to only one religion or country, but rather cover the entire globe.

If you ever conduct a research on this topic, you will definitely come across some plain odd rules that will really make you wonder about common sense. The following are some of the odd traffic laws that will really make you ponder for two minutes:

• Southern American state has been attached with some crazy traffic rules and regulations. For instance, if you hit a pedestrian, you will be fined $78. In some places, you cannot drive through a playground. And one of the most interesting one, you cannot spit while you are in a car or a bus, but if you are residing in a truck, you can go for it.

• In Florida, you cannot park a truck in front of a house or building that you do not personally own. Similarly, if you strap an elephant or an alligator or any other giant animal in a parking meter, you will have to feed the meter the same way, as if you parked the car.

• In Virginia, you cannot shoot an animal from a moving car, other than whales. Also, if you are caught driving drunk, than other than the driver, everybody residing with you in your car will lose their license.

• In Sag Harbor, it is illegal to undress while you are in your car. This is of special importance to people who have full length mirrors. Hence, before sitting in your car, make sure you are dressed perfectly.

• In Connecticut, it is illegal to eat in the car. So always eat before you sit in your car, and control your appetite while you are on a journey.

• European countries also have some crazy traffic laws. For instance, in Luxembourg, your car must have windshield wipers, but you are not required to have a windshield. On the other hand, in Switzerland, you cannot wash your car on Sundays.

Hospice Fraud – A Review For Employees, Whistleblowers, Attorneys, Lawyers and Law Firms

Hospice fraud in South Carolina and the United States is an increasing problem as the number of hospice patients has exploded over the past few years. From 2004 to 2008, the number of patients receiving hospice care in the United States grew almost 40% to nearly 1.5 million, and of the 2.5 million people who died in 2008, nearly one million were hospice patients. The overwhelming majority of people receiving hospice care receive federal benefits from the federal government through the Medicare or Medicaid programs. The health care providers who provide hospice services traditionally enroll in the Medicare and Medicaid programs in order to qualify to receive payments under these government programs for services rendered to Medicare and Medicaid eligible patients.

While most hospice health care organizations provide appropriate and ethical treatment for their hospice patients, because hospice eligibility under Medicare and Medicaid involves clinical judgments which may result in the payments of large sums of money from the federal government, there are tremendous opportunities for fraudulent practices and false billing claims by unscrupulous hospice care providers. As recent federal hospice fraud enforcement actions have demonstrated, the number of health care companies and individuals who are willing to try to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid hospice benefits programs is on the rise.

A recent example of hospice fraud involving a South Carolina hospice is Southern Care, Inc., a hospice company that in 2009 paid $24.7 million to settle an FCA case. The defendant operated hospices in 14 other states, too, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The alleged frauds were that patients were not eligible for hospice, to wit, were not terminally ill, lack of documentation of terminal illnesses, and that the company marketed to potential patients with the promise of free medications, supplies, and the provision of home health aides. Southern Care also entered into a 5-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the OIG as part of the settlement. The qui tam relators received almost $5 million.

Understanding the Consequences of Hospice Fraud and Whistleblower Actions

U.S. and South Carolina consumers, including hospice patients and their family members, and health care employees who are employed in the hospice industry, as well as their SC lawyers and attorneys, should familiarize themselves with the basics of the hospice care industry, hospice eligibility under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and hospice fraud schemes that have developed across the country. Consumers need to protect themselves from unethical hospice providers, and hospice employees need to guard against knowingly or unwittingly participating in health care fraud against the federal government because they may subject themselves to administrative sanctions, including lengthy exclusions from working in an organization which receives federal funds, enormous civil monetary penalties and fines, and criminal sanctions, including incarceration. When a hospice employee discovers fraudulent conduct involving Medicare or Medicaid billings or claims, the employee should not participate in such behavior, and it is imperative that the unlawful conduct be reported to law enforcement and/or regulatory authorities. Not only does reporting such fraudulent Medicare or Medicaid practices shield the hospice employee from exposure to the foregoing administrative, civil and criminal sanctions, but hospice fraud whistleblowers may benefit financially under the reward provisions of the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3732, by bringing false claims suits, also known as qui tam or whistleblower suits, against their employers on behalf of the United States.

Types of Hospice Care Services

Hospice care is a type of health care service for patients who are terminally ill. Hospices also provide support services for the families of terminally ill patients. This care includes physical care and counseling. Hospice care is normally provided by a public agency or private company approved by Medicare and Medicaid. Hospice care is available for all age groups, including children, adults, and the elderly who are in the final stages of life. The purpose of hospice is to provide care for the terminally ill patient and his or her family and not to cure the terminal illness.

If a patient qualifies for hospice care, the patient can receive medical and support services, including nursing care, medical social services, doctor services, counseling, homemaker services, and other types of services. The hospice patient will have a team of doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, counselors and trained volunteers to help the patient and his or her family members cope with the symptoms and consequences of the terminal illness. While many hospice patients and their families can receive hospice care in the comfort of their home, if the hospice patient’s condition deteriorates, the patient can be transferred to a hospice facility, hospital, or nursing home to receive hospice care.

Hospice Care Statistics

The number of days that a patient receives hospice care is often referenced as the “length of stay” or “length of service.” The length of service is dependent on a number of different factors, including but not limited to, the type and stage of the disease, the quality of and access to health care providers before the hospice referral, and the timing of the hospice referral. In 2008, the median length of stay for hospice patients was about 21 days, the average length of stay was about 69 days, almost 35% of hospice patients died or were discharged within 7 days of the hospice referral, and only about 12% of hospice patients survived longer than 180 days.

Most hospice care patients receive hospice care in private homes (40%). Other locations where hospice services are provided are nursing homes (22%), residential facilities (6%), hospice inpatient facilities (21%), and acute care hospitals (10%). Hospice patients are generally the elderly, and hospice age group percentages are 34 years or less (1%), 35 – 64 years (16%), 65 – 74 years (16%), 75 – 84 years (29%), and over 85 years (38%). As for the terminal illness resulting in a hospice referral, cancer is the diagnosis for almost 40% of hospice patients, followed by debility unspecified (15%), heart disease (12%), dementia (11%), lung disease (8%), stroke (4%) and kidney disease (3%). Medicare pays the great majority of hospice care expenses (84%), followed by private insurance (8%), Medicaid (5%), charity care (1%) and self pay (1%).

As of 2008, there were approximately 4,700 locations which were providing hospice care in the United States, which represented about a 50% increase over ten years. There were about 3,700 companies and organizations which were providing hospice services in the United States. About half of the hospice care providers in the United States are for-profit organizations, and about half are non-profit organizations.
General Overview of the Medicare and Medicaid Programs

In 1965, Congress established the Medicare Program to provide health insurance for the elderly and disabled. Payments from the Medicare Program arise from the Medicare Trust fund, which is funded by government contributions and through payroll deductions from American workers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), previously known as the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), is the federal agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that administers the Medicare program and works in partnership with state governments to administer Medicaid.

In 2007, CMS reorganized its ten geography-based field offices to a Consortia structure based on the agency’s key lines of business: Medicare health plans, Medicare financial management, Medicare fee for service operations, Medicaid and children’s health, survey & certification and quality improvement. The CMS consortia consist of the following:

• Consortium for Medicare Health Plans Operations
• Consortium for Financial Management and Fee for Service Operations
• Consortium for Medicaid and Children’s Health Operations
• Consortium for Quality Improvement and Survey & Certification Operations

Each consortium is led by a Consortium Administrator (CA) who serves as the CMS’s national focal point in the field for their business line. Each CA is responsible for consistent implementation of CMS programs, policy and guidance across all ten regions for matters pertaining to their business line. In addition to responsibility for a business line, each CA also serves as the Agency’s senior management official for two or three Regional Offices (ROs), representing the CMS Administrator in external matters and overseeing administrative operations.

Much of the daily administration and operation of the Medicare Program is managed through private insurance companies that contract with the Government. These private insurance companies, sometimes called “Medicare Carriers” or “Fiscal Intermediaries,” are charged with and responsible for accepting Medicare claims, determining coverage, and making payments from the Medicare Trust Fund. These carriers, including Palmetto Government Benefits Administrators (hereinafter “PGBA”), a division of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, operate pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1395h and 1395u and rely on the good faith and truthful representations of health care providers when processing claims.

Over the past forty years, the Medicare Program has enabled the elderly and disabled to obtain necessary medical services from medical providers throughout the United States. Critical to the success of the Medicare Program is the fundamental concept that health care providers accurately and honestly submit claims and bills to the Medicare Trust Fund only for those medical treatments or services that are legitimate, reasonable and medically necessary, in full compliance with all laws, regulations, rules, and conditions of participation, and, further, that medical providers not take advantage of their elderly and disabled patients.

The Medicaid Program is available only to certain low-income individuals and families who must meet eligibility requirements set forth by federal and state law. Each state sets its own guidelines regarding eligibility and services. Although administered by individual states, the Medicaid Program is funded primarily by the federal government. Medicaid does not pay money to patients; rather, it sends payments directly to the patient’s health care providers. Like Medicare, the Medicaid Program depends on health care providers to accurately and honestly submit claims and bills to program administrators only for those medical treatments or services that are legitimate, reasonable and medically necessary, in full compliance with all laws, regulations, rules, and conditions of participation, and, further, that medical providers not take advantage of their indigent patients.

Medicare & Medicaid Hospice Laws Which Affect SC Hospices

Hospice fraud occurs when hospice organizations, by and through their employees, agents and owners, knowingly violate the terms and conditions of the applicable Medicare and Medicaid hospice statutes, regulations, rules and conditions of participation. In order to be able to recognize hospice fraud, hospices, hospice patients, hospice employees and their attorneys and lawyers must know the Medicare laws and requirements relating to hospice care benefits.

Medicare’s two main sources of authorization for hospice benefits are found in the Social Security Act and the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. The statutory provisions are primarily found at 42 U.S.C. §§ 1395d, 1395e, 1395f(a)(7), 1395x(d)(d), and 1395y, and the regulatory provisions are found at 42 C.F.R. Part 418.

To be eligible for Medicare benefits for hospice care, the patient must be eligible for Medicare Part A and be terminally ill. 42 C.F.R. § 418.20. Terminal illness is established when “the individual has a medical prognosis that his or her life expectancy is 6 months or less if the illness runs its normal course.” 42 C.F.R. § 418.3; 42 U.S.C. § 1395x(d)(d)(3). The patient’s physician and the medical director of the hospice must certify in writing that the patient is “terminally ill.” 42 U.S.C. § 1395f(a)(7); 42 C.F.R. § 418.20. After a patient’s initial certification, Medicare provides for two ninety-day benefit periods followed by an unlimited number of sixty-day benefit periods. 42 U.S.C. § 1395d(a)(4). At the end of each ninety- or sixty-day period, the patient can be re-certified only if at that time he or she has less than six months to live if the illness runs its normal course. 42 U.S.C. § 1395f(a)(7)(A). The written certification and re-certifications must be maintained in the patient’s medical records. 42 C.F.R. § 418.23. A written plan of care must be established for each patient setting forth the types of hospice care services the patient is scheduled to receive, 42 U.S.C. § 1395f(a)(7)(B), and the hospice care has to be provided in accordance with such plan of care. 42 U.S.C. § 1395f(a)(7)(C); 42 C.F.R. § 418.56. Clinical records for each hospice patient must be maintained by the hospice, including plan of care, assessments, clinical notes, signed notice of election, patient responses to medication and therapy, physician certifications and re-certifications, outcome data, advance directives and physician orders. 42 C.F.R. § 418.104.

The hospice must obtain a written notice of election from the patient to elect to receive Medicare hospice benefits. 42 C.F.R. § 418.24. Importantly, once a patient has elected to receive hospice care benefits, the patient waives Medicare benefits for curative treatment for the terminal disease upon which is the admitting diagnosis. 42 C.F.R. § 418.24(d).

The hospice must designate an Interdisciplinary Group (IDG) or groups composed of individuals who work together to meet the physical, medical, psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual needs of the hospice patients and families facing terminal illness and bereavement. 42 C.F.R. § 418.56. The IDG members must provide the care and services offered by the hospice, and the group, in its entirety, must supervise the care and services. A registered nurse that is a member of the IDG must be designated to provide coordination of care and to ensure continuous assessment of each patient’s and family’s needs and implementation of the interdisciplinary plan of care. The interdisciplinary group must include, but is not limited to, the following qualified and competent professionals: (i) A doctor of medicine or osteopathy (who is an employee or under contract with the hospice); (ii) A registered nurse; (iii) A social worker; and, (iv) A pastoral or other counselor. 42 C.F.R. § 418.56.

The Medicare hospice regulations, at 42 C.F.R. § 418.200, summarize the requirements for hospice coverage in pertinent part as follows:

To be covered, hospice services must meet the following requirements. They must be reasonable and necessary for the palliation and management of the terminal illness as well as related conditions. The individual must elect hospice care in accordance with §418.24. A plan of care must be established and periodically reviewed by the attending physician, the medical director, and the interdisciplinary group of the hospice program as set forth in §418.56. That plan of care must be established before hospice care is provided. The services provided must be consistent with the plan of care. A certification that the individual is terminally ill must be completed as set forth in section §418.22.

The Social Security Act, at 42 U.S.C. § 1395y(a), limits Medicare hospice benefits, providing in pertinent part as follows: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no payment may be made under part A or part B for any expenses incurred for items or services-… (C) in the case of hospice care, which are not reasonable and necessary for the palliation or management of terminal illness….” 42 C.F.R. § 418.50 (hospice care must be “reasonable and necessary for the palliation and management of terminal illness”). Palliative care is defined in the regulations as “patient and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering. Palliative care throughout the continuum of illness involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs and to facilitate patient autonomy, access to information, and choice.” 42 C.F.R. § 418.3.

Medicare pays hospice agencies a daily rate for each day a beneficiary is enrolled in the hospice benefit and receives hospice care. The daily payments are made regardless of the amount of services furnished on a given day and are intended to cover costs that the hospice incurs in furnishing services identified in the patient’s plan of care. There are four levels of payments which are made based on the amount of care required to meet beneficiary and family needs. 42 C.F.R. § 418.302; CMS Hospice Fact Sheet, November 2009. These four levels, and the corresponding 2010 daily rates, are as follows: routine home care ($142.91); continuous home care ($834.10); inpatient respite care ($147.83); and, general inpatient care ($635.74).

The aggregate annual cap per patient in 2009 was $23,014.50. This cap is determined by adjusting the original hospice patient cap of $6,500, set in 1984, by the Consumer Price Index. See CMS Internet-Only Manual 100-04, chapter 11, section 80.2; 42 U.S.C. § 1395f(i); 42 C.F.R. § 418.309. The Medicare Claims Processing Manual, at Chapter 11 – Processing Hospice Claims, in Section 80.2, entitled “Cap on Overall Hospice Reimbursement,” provides in pertinent part as follows: “Any payments in excess of the cap must be refunded by the hospice.”

Hospice patients are responsible for Medicare co-insurance payments for drugs and respite care, and the hospice may charge the patient for these co-insurance payments. However, the co-insurance payments for drugs are limited to the lesser of $5 or 5% of the cost of the drugs to the hospice, and the co-insurance payments for respite care are generally 5% of the payment made by Medicare for such services. 42 C.F.R. § 418.400.

The Medicare and Medicaid programs require institutional health care providers, including hospice organizations, to file an enrollment application in order to qualify to receive the programs’ benefits. As part of these enrollment applications, the hospice providers certify that they will comply with Medicare and Medicaid laws, regulations, and program instructions, and further certify that they understand that payment of a claim by Medicare and Medicaid is conditioned upon the claim and underlying transaction complying with such program laws and requirements. The Medicare Enrollment Application which hospice providers must execute, Form CMS-855A, states in part as follows: “I agree to abide by the Medicare laws, regulations and program instructions that apply to this provider. The Medicare laws, regulations, and program instructions are available through the Medicare contractor. I understand that payment of a claim by Medicare is conditioned upon the claim and the underlying transaction complying with such laws, regulations, and program instructions (including, but not limited to, the Federal AKS and Stark laws), and on the provider’s compliance with all applicable conditions of participation in Medicare.”

Hospices are generally required to bill Medicare on a monthly basis. See the Medicare Claims Processing Manual, at Chapter 11 – Processing Hospice Claims, in Section 90 – Frequency of Billing. Hospices generally file their hospice Medicare claims with their Fiscal Intermediary or Medicare Carrier pursuant to the CMS Claims Manual Form CMS 1450 (sometime also called a Form UB-04 or Form UB-92), either in paper or electronic form. These claim forms contain representations and certifications which state in pertinent part that: (1) misrepresentations or falsifications of essential information may serve as the basis for civil monetary penalties and criminal convictions; (2) submission of the claim constitutes certification that the billing information is true, accurate and complete; (3) the submitter did not knowingly or recklessly disregard or misrepresent or conceal material facts; (4) all required physician certifications and re-certifications are on file; (5) all required patient signatures are on file; and, (6) for Medicaid purposes, the submitter understands that because payment and satisfaction of this claim will be from Federal and State funds, any false statements, documents, or concealment of a material fact are subject to prosecution under applicable Federal or State Laws.

Illegal Immigrants and Immigration Laws

this is a vast problem. Every year, nearly 9 million people pay their taxes using the wrong Social Security number. The name used on W-2 tax forms used by employers is different from the name on file with the Social Security Administration.

Most of the 9 million mismatches are immigrants using the wrong Social Security Number. One study by Social Security indicates that most no-match payments come from agricultural and restaurant industries.
Some mismatched SSN belong to a real live people, and it appears that many are chosen at random. Some belong to the deceased; others are entirely fictitious.

Many victims are real and often don’t have any idea they’re sharing their identity with an immigrant.There is no way to find out, because Social Security will not tell you if someone else is using your SSN. Victims only find out when something goes wrong, such as, when there are unpaid taxes or unpaid bills, debt collectors often track down the original SSN holder, etc.

Some of the illegal aliens are crossing into the United States to find work. Law enforcement officials indicate that there are individuals coming across the border who are forced to leave their home countries because of criminal activities. These dangerous criminals are fleeing the law in other countries and seeking refuge in the United States.”

Arizona’s law orders immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect they are in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them.

According to CNN, Prince William County in Virginia has quietly had a similar law on the books for three (3) years now. There is fear in the Latino residents. In an interview with a Latino woman, it was said they are afraid. Local police check a person’s immigration status if the person is charged with an offense.

She says that she rarely leaves her home because she is scared of being racially profiled. A supermarket owner said that his business has suffered the law. Regular customer fled the county and moved away. Police statistics showed overall last year, six percent (6%) of criminal arrests were found to be illegal immigrants. Police can only check a person’s status if an arrest is made, not just if a person is stopped by the police.

The Prince William County Police Chief says he is working to build the trust, and they are committed to community policing.

Over the weekend, an illegal immigrant killed a nun in a car accident in Virginia. He has been charged with manslaughter. This is not the first time this has happened. An illegal immigrant killed a teenager in a car accident in Virginia in a car accident. They were both drunk and already had driving offenses, and they were still out on the roads driving.

For more information on Identity Theft and illegal immigrations, look for my book “Are You “YOU” or Is Someone Else YOU” – Protect Yourself From Identity Theft” at

Disclaimer: The author takes no responsibility for the readers’ decisions based on information in this book. It is recommended that the reader seek professional counsel for individual circumstances.