Feb 26 2010

The Invisible Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury

One of the most life-threatening bodily harms that can come to people is traumatic brain injury. This is a sudden, physical trauma to the brain acquired non-congenitally, through external force often typified in various catastrophic accidents and violence.  While the dangerous condition of a person suffering from an open head injury is readily perceptible, the consequences of closed head injuries are not. Nevertheless, all traumatic brain injuries often lead to an array of possible consequences that can persist throughout a person’s lifetime.

Primary and Secondary Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are classified into primary and secondary types.

Primary injuries are those that directly occur at the moment of trauma. These include contusions, blood vessel damage, and axonal shearing where the long ends of brain cells are stretched and torn. In primary injuries, brain cells and tissues may deform and die, drastically altering brain function.

Secondary injuries are indirect results of the trauma, usually as results of complex cellular processes and biochemical cascades initiated by primary injuries. These injury aftershocks can damage areas previously unharmed in the initial trauma and occurs minutes to days after sustaining injury. Secondary injuries include reduced blood and oxygen flow to the brain, low blood pressure, edema or swelling of the brain, and raised pressure within the skull, all of which substantially likely to have further serious effects on the brain, the body, overall body function, and even on the life of the injured person itself.

Signs and Symptoms

While all these injuries can occur, they may not be readily apparent, invisible dangers that can sometimes elude even sophisticated medical technology. Nevertheless, there are physical signs and symptoms to look for to help confirm brain injury. Unconsciousness is one common sign. Other symptoms include dizziness, difficulty balancing, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, unequal pupil size, ringing in the ears, and a bad taste in the mouth among others. Cognitive and emotional symptoms include changes in mood and behavior, and problems with memory, concentration, and thinking.

While traumatic brain injuries can be mild and do not cause permanent or long-term disability, all severity levels of traumatic brain injuries have the potential to cause significant, long-lasting disability that can affect overall quality of life.

Additional legal site: Personal Injury Lawyer Elan Wurtzel. Providing legal assistance in the Long Island area.

This article is intended to provide only general information on the topic and not as legal advice.

Feb 26 2010

Truck Accidents and Unsafe Lane Changes

Each day many different vehicles share roads all over the world. The vehicles range from small cars and motorcycles to large semi-trucks. Tragically, there are many accidents involving trucks that cause serious injuries including death. One of the leading causes of truck accidents is unsafe lane changes.

Drivers of all vehicles types have become increasingly aggressive. Road rage is now a common term that most people not only understand, but have witnessed or experienced. They’ve seen the angry driver who weaves in and out of lanes, aggressively trying to get ahead of all the other vehicles on the road. When two cars that are relatively the same size collide it can cause serious and fatal accidents. When one of the vehicles is a truck it is almost certain that there will be a fatality.

Sometimes a collision between a truck and a smaller vehicle is caused by the driver of the smaller vehicle. There are some car drivers who do not give a truck driver enough room when they change a lane. They don’t understand or appreciate that a truck traveling at a high rate of speed is not able to stop as quickly as a car driver. These drivers dart in front of trucks when they see a little space. If the traffic continues to move they may be okay. But if the traffic in front suddenly slows or stop, the truck behind them may be too close to them to avoid hitting the car.

Car and motorcycle drivers have to respect the truck and be sure they only move in front of a fast-moving truck when they can do so safely. This means waiting until there is enough room and distance before moving over. They also must realize that truck drivers have a limited sight so that they cannot assume the truck driver sees them when they are behind them or moving up on the side. They need to stay out of the truck driver’s blind side.

Truck drivers also cause accidents when they make unsafe lane changes. While they may not weave in and out as often, there are drivers who abruptly move into a lane in an unsafe manner. Some do this because they have not had proper training or the drivers are inexperienced.

But some truck drivers change lanes aggressively, to intimidate another driver. They may have been cut off and they want to get back at the driver. They may be trying to make up lost time, and are changing lanes so they can drive faster. While car and motorcycle drivers are able to stop faster than trucks, it may not be enough to avoid an accident.

Truck drivers are required to get additional training and a special license to drive a truck. Many states in the U.S. also have extra rules that apply only to truck drivers, including laws that pertain to unsafe lane changes. These laws include following too closely and passing on the right. All drivers must understand the potential for fatal accidents when they make unsafe and aggressive lane changes.

This article should not be construed as legal advice or counsel.

Related Legal Tools: If you would like additional information about truck regulations and common truck-related negligence visit TruckAccidentLaw.org

Feb 23 2010

Filing for Bankruptcy

The type of Bankruptcy filed will depend on the individual circumstances involved. Listed below are the various bankruptcy types:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Liquidation

Reference article: Chapter 7, Title 11, United States Code

This is the most common form of bankruptcy and will involve the appointment of a trustee who will have the responsibility of collecting non-exempt property from the debtor, sell that property and use those funds in order to pay creditors. Each state will allow essential property belonging to the debtor to be exempt from this process. Because of this, most Chapter 7 filings are “no asset” cases in which the debtor will keep all of their property.

Chapter 9: Reorganization for municipalities

Reference article: Chapter 9, Title 11, United States Code

Chapter 9 bankruptcies are only available to municipalities. This type of bankruptcy is not a form of liquidation – but rather, a form of reorganization. An entire county, for example, may file for a Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Chapters 11, 12, and 13: Reorganizations

Reference articles: Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code, Chapter 12, Title 11, United States Code and Chapter 13, Title 11, United States code

Bankruptcies filed under Chapter 11, Chapter 12 or Chapter 13 consist of complex reorganizations which involve allowing the debtor to keep all or some of their property to facilitate future earnings that can be used to pay off creditors.

Consumers will commonly file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 – filing a Chapter 11 is rare (but allowed). Similar to a Chapter 13, a Chapter 12 is only available to “family farmers” and “family fishermen” in certain circumstances. The difference is that a Chapter 12 will usually have more lenient terms for debtors than a similar Chapter 13. Chapter 12 was set to expire in 2004 – but was renewed and established permanently.

Chapter 15: Cross-border insolvency

Reference article: Chapter 15, Title 11, United States Code:

Chapter 15 was added to the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. This deals with foreign companies with debts originating in the United States.

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

The Jodat Law Group, PA which is located in Sarasota, Florida, can help you through your bankruptcy claim. Gary R. Jodat is the managing attorney.

Feb 23 2010

What Causes Car Accidents?

Whether we like it or not, car accidents can occur at any moment and in any situation. In fact, car accident statistics show that vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in the United States for people aged 35 years and below. Even the most careful driver or even a passenger can encounter an accident on the road. The sad thing is that majority of car accidents are caused by irresponsible driving behavior that could easily be avoided. To prevent these kinds of accidents, we must take into account what causes these accidents.

Leading Causes of Car Accidents

  • Rubbernecking – used to refer to the activity of motorists slowing down in order to see what is going on. According to a 2003 study, rubbernecking was the cause of 16 percent of distraction-related traffic accidents.
  • Diversions or distractions of the driver – can cause for him to lose focus on driving and being aware of the road or highway. Activities like cell phone use, changing the CD, looking for something, etc.
  • Intoxication- it is estimated that a person dies every 30 minutes in an alcohol-related crash. Most people lose the ability to drive well after consumption of drugs or alcoholic beverages.
  • Driver fatigue- Many head-on collisions occur due to drivers who fall asleep at the wheel.
  • Reckless drivers- drivers who forget their responsibilities and break road rules and traffic laws. Speeding, excessive/improper lane changing, tailgating, disobeying traffic signals are among the common causes of car accidents by reckless drivers.

Other Causes of Car Accidents

  • Bad weather
  • Defective vehicle- loss of brakes, tire blowouts, steering/suspension failure
  • Defective road/poor roadway maintenance

It is essential to know all the causes of car accidents. We may never foresee an accident from happening, but it always pays to be cautious and be aware of the things you should be alert about.

If in any case, you or a loved has been seriously injured or killed from a car accident because of negligence from the other party, it is vital that you find a qualified lawyer to fight for your rights as a victim.

This article is not intended to take the place of legal advice. Always consult a competent lawyer before making important decisions arising out of a car crash.

Additional Legal Information: The Law Offices of Kelley and Uustall. Serving the State of Florida.

Feb 23 2010

Understanding Minimum Wage

Minimum wage protects employees from being taken advantage of by their employers by instituting a basal wage that must be paid to workers. Currently, federal law dictates that employees must be paid at least $6.55 an hour by employers to pass minimum wage requirements. However, oftentimes the state will institute an increased pay standard, such as in California. In this case, the employee is subject to the higher state-instituted minimum wage.

The History of Minimum Wage

The minimum wage requirement was instituted by Congress as part of its regulation of interstate commerce. It was included in 1938’s Fair Labor Standards Act alongside child labor laws, overtime pay, and record keeping requirements. Issued in the aftermath of the Depression, it was intended to stabilize the economy and protect workers’ health and well-being by founding a minimum standard of living. It is important to note that the minimum wage requirement does not apply to independent contractors but employees, defined by the court as one who is financially dependent on the business he serves.

Limitations of Minimum Wage

Specifically, minimum wage protects those that would not possess enough bargaining power and were likewise more susceptible to overreaching by employers. Executives, outside salespersons, professionals, and administrators are therefore often exempted from the minimum wage requirement by Congress since individuals with these higher-earning positions are considered to have ample bargaining power to prevent being taken advantage of by their employers. Likewise, exceptions may apply to full-time students or disabled persons.

Fair Labor Service Act

In addition to outlining the minimum wage requirement itself, the Fair Labor Service Act also details methods of enforcing this requirement. Specifically, it designates the task of investigation and detection of minimum wage violations to the secretary of the Department of Labor and the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. This Congress-created office may force an employer to make records to them, or for the presence of witnesses at hearings. In order to contain breaches of the law and attempt recovery of unpaid benefits, the secretary of Labor has the ability to sue on behalf of employees.

Oftentimes, these rulings for damages can prove quite lucrative for the wronged employee, as the FLSA authorizes employees to seek and attain unpaid minimum wages from their employer. Likewise, they are permitted to file a claim not only for themselves but for other similarly aggrieved co-workers denied minimum wage. Willful violations of the minimum wage requirement can cost a company up to $11,000 in fines from the FLSA, and individuals controlling an employer can be held personally responsible for recovering civil damages, including unpaid compensation, reinstatement, attorneys’ fees, etc. Therefore, it is important that employers abide by minimum wage requirements and employees recognize when such rights are denied from them.

It should be noted that the FLSA does not has jurisdiction to regulate special payments such as vacation or sick pay, pay raises, or premium pay for holiday work. Moreover, the FLSA can’t guarantee or regulate payments in excess of the minimum wage amount, nor does it dictate the amount of hours an employee can be made to work in a week, including overtime.

Additional Legal Site: Shavitz Law. Serving clients in the Boca Raton area.

Feb 22 2010

Unsafe Cribs Recalled

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently announced the product recall of approximately 635,000 infant cribs following the death of a 6-month-old child amidst dozens of reported problems related to child safety.

Defective Hardware
Distributed by Dorel Asia, which is based in Barbados, the cribs were designed with hardware that was found to be defective. The defective hardware was subject to failing which resulted in the drop-side of the crib to become detached, creating a space that could cause a small child to become trapped and strangle or suffocate.

Additionally, slats in the crib were also prone to damage which could result in a strangulation or entrapment hazard. This damage was found to be possible in instances where the crib was either in use or in storage. Damage could also occur when the crib was being assembled, disassembled, reassembled or even during normal shipping and handling.

Fatal Tragedy
The CPSC issued a statement which indicated the 6-month-old involved in the fatal incident became trapped and died when the drop-side hardware on the crib broke. Dorel Asia and the CPSC received a total of 36 reports of slat damage, 31 reports of drop-side hardware breakage and 10 reported injuries. In a separate statement, Dorel Asia said that a safety investigator had informed them that the child’s parents had attempted to repair the broken hardware with duct tape. As such, Dorel Asia made the claim that the circumstances in the death of the 6-month-old were “highly unusual”.

Recall Actions
The recalled cribs were manufactured in Vietnam and China and were sold in Sears, Kmart and Wal-Mart for $120-$700 – from January 2005 up until December 2009. Several models of the cribs have been recalled.

The CPSC issued a warning to consumers that they should immediately refrain from using the recalled cribs and find alternate bedding for their children. They were also advised to contact Dorel Asia, either by phone or their website, to receive a free replacement kit.

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

To find further information regarding unsafe products, contact Attorney Chris Searcy – located in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Feb 22 2010

Voluntary Disclosure and Other Questions

The U.S. tax law enforcement agency Internal Revenue Service or IRS initiated the Voluntary Disclosure Practice to enable noncompliant taxpayers to resolve their tax liabilities and reduce chances for criminal prosecution. The IRS has used this practice in decisions on whether or not to recommend a case to the Department of Justice for criminal trial. This has been particularly effective in cases of offshore tax issues. Nonetheless, an individual may still want to know the chief whats and whys of this particular effort by the said government bureau.

What Is the Primary Aim of the Program

The high degree of noncompliance related to foreign or offshore accounts and foreign entities has led the IRS to take more forceful action in getting greater compliance with tax laws and in closing the tax gap, becoming especially evident in a time of recession. The program also allows the IRS to gather from taxpayers making voluntary disclosures more information and thus, further their understanding, about how foreign accounts and entities are promoted to avoid or evade tax.

Before, the IRS had little arsenal to deal with offshore accounts, and it is definitely hoped that information gained from interviews will enable the bureau to develop additional strategies to inhibit promoters and facilitators of offshore systems from making new clients. Under the program, taxpayers are required to pay six years’ worth of back taxes on income associated with their foreign assets, interest, and a 5%-20% Highest Value Penalty.

Who Should Consider a Voluntary Disclosure

The general risks of tax evasions and other violations are mainly civil penalties and criminal charges. Civil penalties can amount to substantial fines and criminal prosecution can lead to much more severe consequences. For taxpayers who have failed to file tax returns and other information timely and/or honestly, a deliberate admission of such lapses is the best way to go. A voluntary disclosure also opens the best opportunity to calculate fairly accurately the total costs of all offshore tax issues. There is always a chance of being found out by the IRS, and when that happens, tax violators are most likely to face hefty fines and increased likelihood of criminal prosecution.

Additional legal advice on voluntary offshore disclosure: Tax attorneys Thorn Law Group.  Assisting clients in Washington, D.C.

Feb 22 2010

Who’s Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident?

A slip and fall accident is one of the most common accidents that can occur when on someone else’s property. From a slick sidewalk to a wet floor that has not been marked, conditions are often times slippery enough to cause a fall. However, for a business owner or property owner to be liable for the fall, a number of elements need to exist.

Liability Requirements

To start with, there needs to be a hazardous condition. Some people are just clumsy. Being clumsy is not enough of a reason to hold someone accountable for a slip. However, a restaurant’s sidewalk covered in an inch of ice without any signs might be.

The first thing that needs to be proved is that the owner caused the condition to exist. Second, you must prove that the owner knew of the condition and did not do anything to fix the problem. Finally, the owner should have known about the problem, as any reasonable property owner would have been aware of the problem and repaired it. Going back to the slippery sidewalk again, a reasonable operator would not only have noticed the problem on their way into the building, they would have heard complaints already about the conditions.

Seeking Damages for a Slip and Fall

When it comes time to seek damages for a slip and fall on someone else’s premises, you must first prove the liability of the other party, then show that they could have fixed it and did not. You will also need to have the necessary testimony and evidence in hand to prove all of this. In some cases, even if you were the victim of a negligent premises operator, it can be hard to prove these conditions without some form of testimony to show your side of the story. Most states protect the business owner from frivolous lawsuits, and as a result, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff.

If you have slipped and fallen on someone else’s property, be sure to research your rights and take whatever steps necessary to deal with the issues that arise. This article is not meant to be legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal consultation.

Don’t let a slip and fall catch you off guard. Contact Weinstein Law today for your options. Serving clients in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Feb 22 2010

Workplace Injuries on Construction Jobs

The risk of injury on a construction job is substantial. While many people assume that modern safety precautions have eliminated the high risk associated with this field, the truth is that most construction sites are still incredibly unsafe if not properly protected and maintained. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks private construction among the most dangerous fields of work with higher death rates than any other industry and countless annual injuries.

The Risks of Construction

While working on a construction site, there are any number of possible injuries you can suffer. With multiple hazards located throughout the work area, workers are vulnerable from chemicals, scaffolding, electrical wiring, and large machinery that require special care for safe operation.

The most common causes of injury and death on the construction site are related to mistakes and poor conditions – with precautions not being taken when they are necessary. Defective machinery, dangerous conditions, faulty equipment, and accidents such as falling are all related directly to these injuries. If you work on a construction site, it is important to not only know the safe methods of using the materials there, but to watch the safety precautions closely and ensure that everything is well established throughout the site.

Handling a Construction Injury

While most constructions injuries are accidents, it is important to recognize that some could be caused by negligence or poor safety conditions. Most basic accidents are covered by workplace insurance. However, when an accident makes it hard to continue working or leads to long term injury or even death, it is possible that the liability lies with the construction company or even a fellow employee who was working unsafely. Many people avoid these situations or ignore when potential liability is at stake. It is important that you watch these situations closely though as they can greatly affect your future.

While construction is a dangerous business, it is still a job, and no one should ever put their life on the line for a pay check. Keep a close eye on your conditions and how your life and health are affected by them each day. This article is intended as informational and should not be taken as legal advice.

Contact Ken Allen Law for more information in the Chicago, Illinois area. Click here for more information.

Feb 22 2010

American Disability Act

For individuals to be considered under the ADA, they must first qualify as a person with a disability or is currently having a relationship with a disabled individual. This is defined by the ADA as individuals who have a mental or physical impairment which stops them from performing major life activities, a history of having a disability or when they are generally regarded by others as having impairment. However, the ADA does not provide a complete list of disabilities or impairments.

Title I: Employment

Employers with 15 or more employees are obligated by law to extend qualified disabled persons opportunities similar to those employees without disabilities. Included in the list of employers are religious entities that have 15 staff members or more. It strictly prohibits the discrimination of disabled persons with regards to job applications, job growth, training, wages, hiring and other privileges extended to workers.

Restrictions include the types of questions regarding a person’s disability that outs them in a disadvantage before job offers are made. It also instructs employers to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals, providing them an atmosphere where their mental or physical impairments would not hinder them from performing their job. This however is not absolute as employers who may suffer from “undue hardship” from such actions may be exempted.

Title II: Public Entities (and Transportation)

The Act states that all local and state governments provide equal opportunities to disabled individuals not considering their size or source of funding. Government offices are tasked with providing disabled individuals the full extent of services, programs, education, employment, health care, and social services to name a few.

Government offices are also required to implement structural standards to provide easy access to disabled individuals. This is not limited to office or building design but they are also instructed to provide individuals who have communication impairments such as deaf, mute or vision impaired an effective means of communicating.

Title III: Public Accommodations

Under this Title, disables individuals are protected against discrimination with respect to the delivery of goods and services, places of accommodation and facilities. Public accommodations include hotels or inns, parks, educational centers, transportation, restaurants, and stores which provides or sell their services.

Additional link: Lawyer Mike Murburg with law offices located at Tampa Bay, Florida