Category Archives: Law Practice Management

You know those New Medicare Reporting Requirements You Always Hear About? They Have Been Bumped Back to 2012

It’s crazy. Two posts in a row talking about new 2012 requirements that scare the heck out of attorneys. (See the last one here).

This time it’s the big, scary, “new Medicare reporting requirements” that have defense lawyers in a tizzy. As you may recall, as of 2011, liability insurers were supposed to start reporting certain settlements to Medicare – known as TPOC (total payment obligation to claimant) settlements. These reporting requirements have been postponed until 2012. Good!

(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury, medical malpractice and workers compensation lawyer with offices in Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa. You can reach him at 309-794-1660 or hzimmerle [at]

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Filed under Law Practice Management, Legal News, Negotiations, Settlements, Traps, Trial Practice

How Small Law Firms Can Avoid the New 1099 Requirement in 2012

I’m sure you’ve heard about the new 1099 requirement that will take effect in 2012.

You haven’t?

Well here is the gist of it: until now (and until 2012) businesses have to issue 1099 forms for amounts paid to individuals over $600. This typically affects our firm the most in the area of expert witnesses/consultants – we use a lot of them, so we send a lot of 1099 forms. The new law, which is part of the health care reform bill, would expand the requirement to include corporations. In other words, in 2012 if you spend more than $600 in office supplies at Staples or WalMart over the course of the year, you would have to provide them with a 1099. If you stay in a hotel for business enough to rack up $600 at that hotel, you have to provide a 1099.

Here’s a good rundown of the new law.

As of now there is one little loophole that will help small businesses, including law firms, avoid these new requirements – use a credit card or debit card. Those transactions are exempt!

So if nothing changes by 2012, that’s the workaround – use your credit card. But make no mistake, something will probably change for two reasons. First, businesses hate this new requirement, and businesses (small and large) have a huge influence on the government. Second, think of all the additional work the new law would require for the IRS – many more forms, lots more time and money spent to enforce the requirements. Does the IRS want to do that? Of course not. Can we afford more federal workers right now? Of course not. That’s why I don’t think it’ll happen as currently proposed.

The US Treasury seems to have dropped a hint about that recently in this New York Times blog interview – (sixth question down) - “it is important to look at whether this burden is too great for businesses to manage. Treasury and IRS are sensitive to these concerns and will look for opportunities to minimize burden… we won’t hesitate to consider alternative approaches.”

So my guess is that it’s like the 2012 doomsday myth – a lot of people will fret and hide in the basement for nothing.

(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury lawyer in the Quad Cities. He’s not a tax expert, so don’t come to him for tax advice. He can refer you to a good tax business for that. Otherwise, if you have questions or comments, contact him at 309-794-1660 or hzimmerel [at]


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New Iowa “Scope of Liability”/ Proximate Cause Jury Instructions!

As most practicing Iowa lawyers should know, the Iowa Supreme Court did away with the old doctrine of Proximate Cause last year (with some clarification in the Royal Indemnity case earlier this month) and replacing it with “Scope of Liability.”

The big headache for judges and trial lawyers is what the new jury instructions will look like.

Well, you’re in luck. I’m on the Iowa Jury Instructions Committee, and we approved two new jury instructions to replace the old proximate cause instruction – one on “factual cause” (ie did defendant’s conduct cause plaintiff’s damages) and another one on “scope of liability” (to be used only in rare cases – this is usually a question for the court)

Both instructions, after the jump.

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