Author Archive: Betty Taylor

One-Third of Veterans’ Calls to VA Suicide Hotline Go Unanswered

Legal Help for Veterans is a law firm helping veterans get the benefits they deserve.

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) November 7, 2016 – Frontline staff are failing to answer more than one-third of calls to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) suicide hotline. Former hotline director Greg Hughes pointed out that poor work habits, low productivity and other departmental issues were to blame.

Several weeks prior to leaving his job in June, Hughes sent an internal email saying workers “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity.” Some Veterans Crisis Line employees answer under five calls per day. They also end their shifts early despite the sharp rise in the volume of crisis calls in recent years. The hotline received over 500,000 calls in 2015, a 50-fold increase since it was launched in 2007.

“It is no small matter that so many crisis line calls are going unanswered when an estimated 20 veterans commit suicide every day,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “Veterans who turn to the crisis line in their time of need should not feel let down and frustrated by something that is supposed to help them.”

Hughes said around 35 to 40 percent of hotline calls received in May rolled over to contractor-run backup centers. The centers are staffed with volunteers and workers who lack specialized training in handling veterans’ problems.

The VA’s Office of Inspector General revealed in a February report that one in six calls are diverted to backup centers where callers are not always assisted immediately. Some are left on hold in violation of VA policy. In addition, crisis calls are routinely allowed to go to voicemail. Employees at one center were unaware a voicemail system existed.

The House on September 26 unanimously approved the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act. The measure requires the VA to ensure that all phone calls and text messages to the crisis line are answered in a timely manner by a qualified individual. A similar Senate bill is awaiting passage.

The VA said it is increasing staff at the hotline’s New York hub and opening a new call center in Atlanta. The agency promised to continue efforts to improve training. The VA has also modified its contract with the backup call center contractor to stop the use of answering machines.

“Veterans suicide prevention should be a top priority at the VA. Practical, long-term solutions are needed such as ensuring call centers are adequately staffed and that workers are aware of their responsibilities,” said Fausone.

Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC
41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101
Northville, MI 48168
Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800

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Local Fort Worth Gospel Singer Struck and Killed by Alleged Drunk Driver

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) November 7, 2016 – A well-known local musician was struck and killed in a head-on accident by a suspected drunk driver, in Fort Worth, Texas.

The 68-year-old man, driving his van, was hit on Riverside Drive by 36-year-old Roberto Ortiz-Morales.

According to witnesses, Ortiz-Morales was driving on the wrong side of the road when he crashed into the van, head-on. A police report noted that he was inebriated and he was arrested. Ortiz-Morales was charged with intoxication manslaughter. The victim died at the scene.

“In Texas, there is a category of homicide that applies to situations such as this one, where a drunk person drives while under the influence and causes the death of another person,” said Austin DUI plaintiff’s attorney Bobby Lee. “That crime is referred to as intoxication manslaughter.” Other states have similar homicide laws applicable in the same kind of a situation. Those states may refer to their charges as DUI causing injury or death, vehicular manslaughter, or DUI manslaughter.

Crimes charged as manslaughter tend to have less severe punishments than murder, because the defendant is considered less responsible than if they had acted with premeditation or malice.

“This class of crime applies when an individual kills someone as a result of a voluntary state of intoxication – choosing to drink and drive in other words. So, if that person knowingly got drunk or high or intoxicated in some form and drives and kills someone, it is considered to be intoxication manslaughter,” Lee added. “We represent plaintiff’s in cases such as this and we welcome your enquiries regarding your legal rights.”

Lee, Gober & Reyna
11940 Jollyville Road #220-S
Austin, Texas 78759
Phone: 512.478.8080

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Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed in Florida Over Plane Crash

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 4, 2016 – At least seven lawsuits have been filed in Florida over a 2015 plane crash in Ohio that killed nine Floridians.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that the flight crew’s incorrect runway approach and failure to follow procedures caused the Nov. 10, 2015 crash. The board also said that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) failed to properly enforce regulations against ExecuFlight, the operator of the flight. The findings by the safety board were recently made public at a hearing in Washington, D.C.

“An investigation by a government body into what caused an accident can provide evidence that may be used in a wrongful death case,” said Robert Joyce, a Tampa wrongful death attorney with Joyce & Reyes, who is not involved in the case.

According to a summary version of the safety board’s report, mistakes by the pilot and co-pilot doomed the jet, which stalled as it approached the airport and then crashed into an apartment building. The pilot and co-pilot died in the crash, along with their seven passengers. The passengers were all employees of a commercial real estate firm, on the last stop of a six-day business trip looking at properties in the Midwest.

According to an attorney for the family of one of the victims, at least seven lawsuits have been filed in Florida against ExecuFlight on behalf of the families of the passengers.

Investigators said that the pilot and co-pilot failed to communicate properly about the approach to the airport. In addition, the plane’s flaps were configured incorrectly, and it was flying too high for the runway approach. The NTSB said that ExecuFlight had a casual attitude toward compliance with safety standards.

Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
Call: 813.251.2007

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