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Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Automobile Accidents | 0 comments

Personal Injury: Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other government and private organizations have always indicated and explained why car accidents are avoidable occurrences. Negligence, which leads to inattentiveness and/or recklessness, is always the number one reason why millions of drivers, motorcycle and bicycle riders, and pedestrians continue to be severely injured or killed on US roads; but negligence can easily be prevented. This very critical failure to ensure that nothing is amiss can lead: to a car manufacturer selling a defective vehicle or sub-standard vehicular parts; local government agencies or federal government channels in ensuring that US roads and bridges are well built, maintained and repaired if with defects; and, drivers violating traffic safety rules by drinking while under the influence of alcohol, overspeeding, driving recklessly, using a handheld phone while driving and allowing distractions to get the better of him/her while behind the wheel. There may only be a minor number of drivers who have driven through a red light, never slowed down or stopped where there are signs stating these, have made dangerous, improper overtakes, never used signal lights and/or tailgated another vehicle. But definitely, almost all drivers, whatever type of vehicle they handle, have been distracted while on the road. Distracted driving is characterized by the diversion of a driver’s attention from the road due to another activity. Some of these activities can be:

  • Texting
  • Eating
  • Conversing with a passenger
  • Grooming
  • Reading a map for directions
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or any portable electronic device

Driving distractions are so normal that a driver, most often than not, will never even realize that he/she is already being distracted. While driving, one’s attention should be focused just on the road – a rule that every driver knows, but which many only continue to know. Any distraction can endanger the driver, his/her passenger/s, pedestrians and all other motorists on the road. There are more than 3,000 deaths and about 400,000 injuries annually due to distracted driving, according to the NHTSA and CDC. Victims have the legal right to sue those liable for the accident, for the compensation that they deserve due to the harm they have been made to suffer. Negligence is the absence of care, leading to accidents which are definitely preventable. It wouldn’t hurt if one were to start caring for others.

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Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Personal Finance | 0 comments

Bankruptcy or Debt Negotiation?

The US Bankruptcy Code Law provides individuals and businesses with legal solutions that will save them from overwhelming debts to enable them to regain financial control and stability. Parts of the solution involve discharge of all unsecured debts and an affordable means of paying secured (usually government-related) debts.

Municipalities, corporations, and millions of Americans in financial crisis, have, over the past years, resorted to filing bankruptcy due to the many advantages and benefits it offers. Based on the amount of their loans and economic situation (considering their income, assets and properties), they can choose which chapter of the bankruptcy code would be most appropriate for them.

These chapters include: Chapter 7, also known as liquidation of assets; Chapter 11, or business reorganization; Chapter 12, which is designed for families in the farming or fishing business; and, Chapter 13, which is payment of debt via a three-year, more affordable, payment plan.

Besides the discharge of unsecured debts (such as from credit card companies) or reorganization for a more affordable debt-payment scheme, there is also the “automatic stay,” which is another major benefit of filing for bankruptcy. This benefit specifically stops repossession of properties, foreclosures, evictions, utility shut-offs, and any attempt by creditors or collecting agencies to sue debtors and force the sale of their personal property or garnish their bank account.

A good business lawyer, however, would not immediately recommend the filing of bankruptcy to a client without first discussing with him/her its advantages and disadvantages. For while bankruptcy may discharge a client from unsecured debts and enable the payment of secured loans, it can also mean loss of some properties, closure of business, a bankruptcy stigma that will remain on one’s credit report for 10 years, and possible higher interest rates on future credits.

This is debt negotiation which, as the article explains, can reduce interest payments, lengthen the time span of payment, defer interest payments, or consolidate loan payments.

A debt negotiation scheme can reduce the loan to even more than half of the total amount, giving the debtor a much smaller amount to settle. Its other advantages include:

  • No more litigation process (which is part of the bankruptcy process)
  • Debt may be paid through a single/lump sum payment or monthly payments
  • Freedom from being harassed by debt collectors
  • Freedom from lawsuits and any other legal action that will force sale of properties, wage garnishment or a bank account being levied.

Other may reason out that even debt negotiation would have an effect in one’s credit score. This is true, but the effect is much less substantial than when one files bankruptcy and, to begin with, one’s credit rating will already have been affected negatively after a six-month delinquency in payment – this is even before debt negotiation starts.

Probably, the only one great disadvantage of debt negotiation is payment of taxes if the amount taken away by creditors from the loan exceeds $600. This benefit (or non-benefit for some) is called the cancellation-of-debt (COD) income.

To be more certain about which legal solution a client should opt for (bankruptcy or debt negotiation), it is recommended that the advice and guidance of an expert lawyer is sought. This is to make sure that the best option is chosen and that proper procedures are followed.

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Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Social Security | 0 comments

Social Security Disability Programs

The two largest programs of the Federal government that provide financial assistance to people with disabilities are the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income. The former was introduced by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 1956, while the latter was created in 1974.

SSDI pays benefits to totally disabled insured members, aged 65 or below (and to certain members of their families), assuming that these members meet the following requirements, which include:

  • Having worked long enough (or recently enough) and have paid Social Security taxes or Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes while employed (these taxes are automatically deducted from the worker on a monthly basis)
  • Having earned the number of credits required by the SSA (workers earn four credits annually)
  • Suffering from totally disability (SSA expects that workers will receive assistance for short-term or partial disability from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance benefit or from their personal insurance providers).

Total disability or disability, as considered by the SSA, means: (i) inability to perform previous work, as well as any other work, due to the medical condition; (ii) the disability has either lasted for a year or is likely to last for a year or more; and, (iii) the disability can result in the worker’s death.

SSA has drawn up a list medical conditions that are severe enough, so that finding one’s health problem in it would automatically include him/her in the roster of disabled insured SS members. Not finding one’s health condition in the list, however, will require an evaluation by Social Security, to determine if the problem is serious enough to be considered a disability.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability program, as different from SSDI, provides non-taxable financial assistance to Americans, who are, at least, 65 years old , blind, or disabled (the meaning assigned to “disability” is the same with SSDI), and whose income or resources fall within the federal benefit rate (FBR) determined by the government.

SSI funding is sourced from the U.S. Treasury general funds (not from the SS taxes paid monthly by SS insured members), thus, neither SS credits nor previous employment is required from applicants to the program.

The main intent of the SSI program is to help provide for the basic needs (food, shelter and clothing) of its beneficiaries. In some states SSI benefits application is also considered as application for food stamps, while other states allow the benefits to be supplemented by Medicaid to cover prescriptions, doctor’s fee and other medical care costs.

Many individuals, despite meeting the conditions required by Social Security Administration to qualify either for the SSDI or SSI benefit, have been denied of their application greatly because they chose to go through the whole process on their own. The forms that need to be filled out, the medical proofs, all other necessary documents and the strictness imposed by Social Security in deciding the worthiness of each application, can all be very difficult to take care of without the assistance of a legal professional. An Indiana Social Security disability lawyer is a person to approach to help a benefits applicant get approval for the financial assistance he or she needs.

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Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Pharmaceuticals | 0 comments

Pharmaceutical Defects Involving Depakote and Risperdal

For millions of Americans suffering from epilepsy, bipolar disorder or migraine headache, U.S. FDA-approved Depakote served to be a great relief for their debilitating health conditions. Depakote, an anticonvulsant drug, was approved by the FDA: in 1983 to reduce or prevent severe epileptic seizures; in 1995 to treat manic episodes linked to bipolar disorder; and, in 1996 to prevent migraine attacks. In the US alone, about 125,000 individuals are added annually to the more than two million Americans already suffering from epilepsy, while those affected by migraine number to more than 20 million. The drug’s effectiveness in treating the health concerns it was approved for eventually made it one of the most prescribed drugs in the nation.

Abbott Laboratories, maker of Depakote, was soon faced with reports and lawsuits due to adverse cases associated with its drug. Some of the recorded severe effects of Depakote are pancreatitis, liver toxicity, confusion, unusual bruising or bleeding, joint weakness, difficulty swallowing and/or breathing, and so many others.

The most serious health conditions caused by Depakote, though, can be those found in babies, whose mothers were prescribed with the drug during their pregnancy. Women, who took the drug, were in a great chance of delivering dead babies of babies with birth defects, like facial dysmorphism (deformity in a child’s facial structure), spina bifida (a condition wherein the spinal column of an unborn child does not close totally), deformity of the cardiovascular system, and brain defect, which can be fatal.

Depakote, however, was not the only drug (for bipolar disorder) introduced in the early 90s that was prescribed to millions of individuals, but which also caused severe harm to those who used it. Another drug was Risperdal – approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1994 to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder.

Due to its effectivity, Risperdal ended up being prescribed for non-label use too (not approved by the FDA), namely, for obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder (ADD) in children, anxiety and depression, behavioral disorder, Tourette syndrome (a neurological disorder typified by uncontrollable utterance of obscenities, vocalizations, and involuntary tics.

Before 2003, 16 cases of deaths and 37 incidences of strokes or stroke-like occurrences were linked to Risperdal. Besides these, there were also reports of Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS), which is a potentially deadly condition characterized by irregularity in pulse and blood pressure, and Tardive Dyskinesia, which is a disorder in the central nervous system that leads to twitching of the tongue and face and uncontrolled movements of the limbs, as having been caused by the drug.

Both Abbott Laboratories and Janssen-Cilag, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, manufacturers of Depakote and Risperdal, respectively, have faced, and are still facing, thousands of lawsuits from individuals who have been harmed by the drugs.

While those harmed by the said drugs can still file claims lawsuits against the manufacturers, being represented by a highly competent lawyer, like a Depakote lawyer or a Risperdal lawyer, may easily sway the judge’s decision to benefit the victim and award to him/her the maximum amount of compensation allowed by the law.

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Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in Automobile Accidents | 0 comments

Auto Accidents: Rollovers

Anyone who has worked very hard to finally afford his/her own vehicle (for the first time) would undoubtedly go through the experience of buying the vehicle with so much excitement; well, the person deserves it and it can be one form of rewarding oneself for the hard work.

When choosing a vehicle, however, one mistake that so many commit is focusing only on peripheral factors, like color, finish, brand, model, design and so forth. If an expert’s advice were to be solicited, the one sure thing he/she would recommend is a vehicle (whether a car, a pickup, an SUV, or any other type) that is safe.

One car safety feature that is now a standard in many vehicles, since August 2011, is the electronic stability control system (ESC), which was designed to give drivers greater vehicle control, lessening the possibility of road accidents, especially rollovers. The ESC is a very important feature particularly in SUVs since this type of vehicle is more susceptible to rolling over as its center of gravity is higher from the ground compared to a regular car.

Through the use of intelligent sensors, the ESC system is able to detect loss of vehicle control (like when the vehicle skids) and simultaneously applies an automatic brake to the appropriate wheel to put the vehicle back under the control of the driver. Tests have also showed that ESC effectively: corrects imminent understeering or oversteering; improves handling on gravel patches, like road shoulders; stabilizes the vehicle during sudden maneuvers, such as when making a sudden turn on sharp curves; and, improves traction on slippery and icy surfaces.

Habush Habush & Rottier S.C.® points out that safety on the road is dependent on different factors; there is driver behavior, repaired and well-maintained roads, vehicle and vehicle parts that meet government and industry standards, and environmental factors, which include weather condition. Thus, the beneficial aspects of ESC can be negated if these factors, especially driver behavior, are taken for granted. For it would be very unlikely for a driver to regain control of his/her vehicle, despite its being equipped with the ESC, if he/she were fatigued, distracted, intoxicated, tailgating, making reckless lane changes, or overspeeding. Likewise, driving on icy and slippery roads with worn out tires will not make ESC create the needed traction.

Rollover accidents have caused so many serious injuries, including back injuries, quadriplegia, paraplegia, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage and death. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to determine who the real liable party in a rollover accident is; it can the driver, the manufacturer of the vehicle or those responsible in maintaining the road. Massachusetts car accident lawyers would probably inform you that it can be very important to identify who the liable party is. Seeking compensation from this person can help you get back on your feet.

Some people may feel bad about suing an individual or company after an injury, worried that their lawsuit will bankrupt them. Actually, in some situations, payouts come from insurance companies. Having information on car insurance and accident liability can arm you to handle your accident in a way that is level-headed and successful.

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