Delays on BP Oil Spill Claims Processing

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, also known as the BP oil spill and the largest environmental disaster to occur in the petroleum industry to date, affected thousands of individuals and businesses. The 4.9 billion barrels of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the loss of livelihood for those living along the coasts of Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama as well as various long-term adverse health and environmental effects.

These thousands of affected individuals have a right to economic damage compensation for this accident which has since been found to be due to the negligence of BP, Halliburton Energy Services, TransOcean Inc., and Cameron International Corporation. As part of its agreement with the federal government, BP had established a $20 billion settlement fund which is to be used to expedite the BP oil spill claims processing of those affected.

Recently, however, there has been a hold put on the 600 claims being handled by New Orleans law firm Andry Lerner LLC by US District Judge Carl Barbier because of allegations of conflict of interest on the part of claims facility senior lawyers Lionel Sutton III and his wife Christine Reitano. Both have since resigned following the start of investigations into the alleged improper processing of claims favoring those been handled by the Andry Lerner firm in exchange for referral fees. BP oil spill claims processing is undertaken by most law firms on a contingent fee basis. This means that claimants will have to wait longer to get the compensation they deserve in order to pick up the threads of their lives.

This is tough news to hear for those still struggling to recover, especially since there has so far been no evidence to suggest that these allegations have any foundation in fact. This further attempt by BP to delay paying compensation to those they affected is an illustration of how big business will find ways and means to avoid their civil liabilities. Victims of negligence will not win if they do not have aggressive representation. If your livelihood has been affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, have your BP oil spill claims processing done by a law firm with a good track record in handling oil spill economic damage claims.

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Different State Laws regarding Adoption

Posted by on Jul 10, 2013

The creation of a parent-child relationship between individuals not naturally related is what adoption is all about. Through adoption, the adoptee, usually a child, is given all the privileges and rights as any member of the family and becomes an heir in the same family. The new legal relationship created through adoption simultaneously ends the natural parents’ rights over their child.

Adoption was initially viewed as a means for childless (married, opposite sex) couples to have children and normalize their union. Today, the present focus is for the child to be placed in an improved environment. The first modern adoption law, the 1851 Adoption of Children Act, was passed in Massachusetts; it recognized adoption as both a legal and social operation intended to promote child welfare rather than cater to the interest of the adopting adults.

There are two types of adoption recognized in the US: open adoption and closed adoption. While the birth mother may be allowed to choose who can adopt her child, as well as be permitted to maintain contact with, and visit, her child in open adoption, closed adoption requires the birth mother to relinquish her rights over her child and let the state decide as to who can adopt the child.

The website of the Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq., reports that adoptions are regulated by state laws which vary between states. There are two major issues, though, that need to be resolved by all states regarding adoption: Who can adopt?; and, Who can be adopted?

Who can adopt?

Different states allow adoption to be made by:

  • Any single adult
  • A married couple
  • A stepparent (can adopt her or his spouse’s birth child)
  • Married persons who are legally separated or in one spouse is judged legally incompetent, may adopt singly
  • Adopting parent must be at least 18 years old (some states require the age of 21, others 25, still others, require that the adopter ought to be at least 10 years, 14 years or 15 years older than the adoptee

Who can be adopted?

Varying states laws on who can be adopted, include:

  • Persons below 18 years old
  • A child who is legally free for adoption
  • Any person, regardless of age, but so long as the adopting parents are older than the adult to be adopted

To fully understand your legal options with regard to adoption, a highly-qualified family lawyer will be able to provide you with the assistance you need. He or she will also be able to inform you of the specific adoption laws your state observes. Make sure you contact one in the event that you are considering adopting someone.

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Improperly Maintained Tracks: A Very Serious Threat against Train Passengers’ Safety

Posted by on Jul 5, 2013

With over 200,000 miles of railroad track spanning across the US, 20,000 locomotives and 1,200,000 freight cars, trains are definitely major contributors to the nation’s transportation and economic growth. Thousands of Americans take the train to get to their destinations much faster; tourists ride it for an experience of America on rails, while tons of cargo and various goods have been transported from coast to coast on board it.

Since trains cover very long distances and often travel at high speeds, it is essential that these, and all of their parts, are always in good working condition for guaranteed safe and efficient travel. Also, since these incredibly powerful vehicles run only on rails, these rails will also have to be properly maintained and kept in good condition.

Many of those responsible for the maintenance of railroad tracks fail to do their job well, though. As a result, the number of train accidents for the past five years has steadily increased, averaging at least 5,500, with injuries going over 2,000 and fatalities numbering to about 600. In fact, according to the National Transportation Safety Board many railroad crossings are not properly maintained; many do not even have lights or safety gates that would protect motorists from approaching trains, especially at night.

There are other types of railroad accidents, including train colliding with another train, collision with another motor vehicle, derailment, driver fatigue, driver error, mechanical failure and improperly maintained tracks, which, by the way, cause 60% of all railroad deaths.

Besides taking lives and destroying properties train accidents have also caused spills of hazardous chemicals, endangering the lives of residents living near the site of the accident. With many train and railroad equipment already outdated and with the local governments having no absolute say about the train traffic in their particular state, maintenance and improvement of materials and equipment are sure to take much time.

The severity of harm committed against people and the tremendous amount in damage to property are just a couple of things that need to be addressed. If the accident is due to the carelessness of a firm, another person, or a local government, then justice and compensation may be won for the victim.

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Factors Leading to Juvenile Delinquency: Things You Should Make Sure Your Child do not Fall into

Posted by on Jun 28, 2013

More than 70 million children and teenagers (below 18 years old) presently populate the US, comprising nearly one fourth of the nation’s total population. The website of Alexander & Associates says that like any ordinary adult, sometimes young people act recklessly, engaging in different risky activities that may warrant either counseling or disciplinary actions. As recorded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), these activities include drinking and getting drunk, driving while intoxicated, carrying a weapon, attempting suicide, and engaging in sexual intercourse.

Though OJJDP research shows a downward trend in the number of juvenile crime in the US since the early 90s, the number is still more than a million. In fact, about 1.5 million juveniles get arrested annually for criminal activities that include shoplifting, vandalism and damage to property, murder and many others.

Reasons as to why these young people choose to engage in criminal activities, include:

  • Some want to test the limits of parents and / or society
  • Lack or leniency of rules and not enough supervision
  • Substance abuse
  • The kind of environment where the child has been and is exposed to
  • The poverty level of the family
  • Relationships (which can lead to gangs) developed inside or outside the school
  • Peer pressure

Gangs are definitely major factors to juvenile crimes and, with at least 700,000 youths belonging to street gangs, there can be many who are being pressured and driven to commit offenses. Besides identifying the reasons behind the crimes, the OJJDP also gives the following information:

  • Boys, more than girls, are prone to becoming juvenile delinquents. This can be due to the “male phenomenon,” which states that boys commit more crimes compared to girls since they are supposed to be more aggressive and as proof of their masculinity.
  • Juvenile crimes are committed during and after school hours, specifically between 3 and 7 p.m. (surprisingly, crimes committed by adults usually peak between 8 p.m. and 12 midnight.

Crimes, whether committed by youth or adults, are a serious matter that require full attention. Oftentimes adolescents act irresponsibly without fully understanding the consequences of their actions. If any youth in your family or circle of friends has been charged with a crime, that person will definitely need legal assistance that may keep him or her from suffering harsh punishments which may only worsen his or her outlook in life.

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The Lethal Effects of the Mineral Silica

Posted by on Jun 28, 2013

Work-related or workplace injury is one type of personal injury that always registers a high rate of claim annually in the US. Due to this, the federal government has obligated all employers to include compensation insurance in the workers’ benefits which will ensure fast financial assistance or coverage in the event that a worker gets injured in the workplace.

Worker’s compensation, like Social Security is a mandated benefit; it includes payments for lost wages, death benefits, medical care and specific loss benefits (a benefit given to those whose jobs have caused permanent or severe deformity on their face, head or neck; this benefit is also given to those who have lost permanent use (whether part or whole) of their hand, finger, thumb, leg, toe, foot, sense of hearing and sense of sight.

The workers’ compensation benefit which was passed into law in 1908 is a much needed financial assistance, especially to construction workers, furnace repairers and installers, sandblasters, foundry workers, raw materials handlers, miners and many others who develop job-related illnesses even years after retirement. One very common mineral these workers are exposed to is silica, which can be inhaled in dust form during breaking or crushing of rocks and sands. Many are not fully aware of the deadly effect this widely used mineral has, though.

Inhalation of silica dust can lead to silicosis, a lethal form of lung illness that leaves the lungs scarred and inflamed. The effects of silicosis are irreversible, even though exposure to silica has long ceased.There are three known types of silicosis those affected can suffer from:

  • Chronic Silicosis – this is the most common form of silicosis and its symptoms may remain undetected for many years. It worsens, though, as it progresses and can even lead to the development of heart disease.
  • Accelerated Silicosis – it much like chronic silicosis, except that it develops fasters. This type is usually acquired after being exposed to larger amounts of silica dust in a short period of time.
  • Acute Silicosis – this type of lung illness develops and worsens the fastest, with effects, including weight loss, fever, shortness of breath and cough. Respiratory failure is fast, resulting to death one or two years after symptoms appear.

Being made to work in a dangerous environment is one of the major offenses an employer can commit. Though no one may have intended that the worker suffer from a deadly illness, the effects of being exposed to deadly minerals have already progressed and these are irreversible.

The website of Williams Kherkher has information about how those who have suffered workplace injuries may be able to seek compensation. Such compensation that you legally could be a big financial boost to you and your family, for the cost of your medication and the financial losses that you may have suffered, and will still suffer from.

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Most Common Causes and Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury

Posted by on Jun 26, 2013

More than 200,000 individuals are suffering from spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the United States and at least 12,000 more are added to their number annually. Spinal injuries are caused by the severe trauma brought about by motor vehicle crashes, falls, acts of violence (such as gunshot injuries) and sports injuries. The common victims of this paralyzing injury are males aged between 16 and 30 years old.

Our spinal cord, with the brain, forms the Central Nervous System. It is made up of spinal cord nerve segments and is protected by the spinal or vertebral column (also known as the spine or backbone). The Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) surrounds the delicate nerve tissues of our spinal cord, cushioning and protecting it from damage inside the vertebral column.

Millions of nerve fibers actually make up the spinal cord – fibers responsible for transmitting electrical signals from the different parts of the body to the brain and vice-versa. Nerves exiting the spinal cord’s upper section, for instance, control the movement of our arms and our breathing; those nerves that exit our back’s mid and lower sections allow us to control our legs and trunk, sexual function and bowel and bladder movements. Thus, any damage or harm on the spinal cord (even to the spinal or vertebral column) will cause failure in the transmission of signals from the brain to the parts of the body below the injured area, which can result to pain, loss of function of affected part or total paralysis.

A spinal injury is due either to a traumatic or non-traumatic experience. A traumatic injury is caused by a sudden blow which can dislocate, fracture or crush a region or regions of your vertebral column; it can also be caused by a knife or a gunshot wound that pierces and cuts the nerves in the spinal cord. A non-traumatic injury is caused by an illness, such as cancer, arthritis, infection, inflammation or disc collapse of the spine.

Besides lowering your blood pressure and reducing control of body temperature, an injury to the spine also causes chronic pains and the inability to effectively regulate blood pressure. Other effects of the injury, as well as their severity, depend on the region actually affected. Loss of movement and feeling in all limbs (arms and legs) implies quadriplegic (quad is the Latin word for four) or tetraplegic (tetra is a Latin word that means five) injuries. These injuries can also affect the chest muscles which, in turn, can affect our breathing. A paraplegic (para is the Greek word for “half”) injury means loss of movement and sensation in the body’s lower half (including the legs).

Whatever the type of your injury is, its treatment can cost you thousands of dollars annually – money that you can spend for other worthwhile things. If your spinal injury is a result of someone else’s negligent of reckless behavior, know that the law protects your rights as a victim and legally allows you to file a claims lawsuit against the liable party. Hiring a really good lawyer ought to be one your decisions; he or she will explain to you your right and how to effectively fight for it.

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GranuFlo: Why It’s Dangerous and Filing a Lawsuit

Posted by on Jun 24, 2013

Being faced with a life-threatening condition like kidney failure is difficult enough as it is. In such a situation, a person affected with such a serious health problem deserves to receive the best care possible and to be able to trust their doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are treating them or providing the products needed for their treatment. Sadly for many Americans who have undergone hemodialysis treatment in the past few years in an effort to combat the negative effects of kidney failure and have used GranuFlo during this treatment, they have suffered further health problems rather than receiving the care they needed.

GranuFlo, a dry acid concentrate that is produced by Fresenius Medical Care, is a product that is used by many hemodialysis patients in order to neutralize the toxins that build up in their blood. However, this product causes a buildup of bicarbonates in a person’s blood, which can cause serious heart problems, such as cardiac arrest, heart arrhythmia, low blood pressure, and strokes, something which Fresenius was aware of, but choose to not address. As a product manufacturer, not only was it Fresenius’ duty to produce a product that was generally safe for most consumers to use, but to also warn anyone using this product of the potential dangers.

Because Fresenius failed in both these respects, many people are seeking to hold them liable for the devastating results that using GranuFlo has caused to victims and their families. Through filing a lawsuit, many people and their loved ones are looking to obtain not only compensation for their financial burdens and losses, but also a sense of justice for the undue physical and emotional harm that they have been forced to endure. Additionally, in an effort to prevent more Americans from facing such difficulties as those who have already used GranuFlo are currently experiencing, the U.S. FDA has issued a Class 1 recall of the dangerous product.

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Three Types of Aphasia

Posted by on Jun 23, 2013

The Law Offices of Donald D. GuthrieThe brain is one of the human body’s most important organs. It is responsible for controlling myriad processes from heartbeat, to breathing, to responses to emotional stimuli to voluntary motion, as well as memory functions. However, it is incredibly delicate and even minor damage to the brain can have severe long-term consequences.

Injuries to the brain can result in the loss of these vital functions, and the functions lost relate to which area of the brain suffered damage and how the damage was sustained. For example, a lack of oxygen to an area of the brain can have a different effect on a person than serious trauma to the same section will have. Brain injuries can cause partial paralysis, memory loss, changes in mood or personality, and aphasia.

Aphasia is a serious condition that alters an individual’s ability to use and comprehend language. This crippling brain injury can leave a person unable to communicate both verbally and through writing. There are three main kinds of aphasia:

  • Expressive Aphasia – People with expressive aphasia have an understanding of ideas they want to communicate, but encounter difficulties actually expressing them.
  • Receptive Aphasia – Aphasia that causes an individual to have difficulty interpreting communication delivered to them. They may be able to read, but will not comprehend.
  • Global Aphasia – A person with global aphasia cannot read or write, and has great difficulty speaking and understanding verbal communication. This is the most severe form of aphasia.

Living with aphasia is incredibly difficult. It has been likened to moving to a foreign land where you have a tenuous grasp of the native language and will never be able to learn it. Living without the ability to effectively communicate can be unimaginably frustrating for an aphasia victim.

While aphasia is most commonly caused by stroke, it can also be a result of other brain injuries.

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Understanding Alimony

Posted by on Jun 20, 2013

At the end of a marriage, there are numerous issues that need to be resolved by the former spouses. These include the difficult tasks of determining child support, child custody, who gets to keep any family pets, and the equal division of property. In addition to these issues, the court may also decide that one spouse will have to pay the other alimony.

Alimony is an amount of money that is given from one former spouse to the other after a divorce. The end of a marriage will likely bring drastic changes to an individual’s life. Alimony payments are awarded so that the spouse who makes less income after the divorce can have time to adjust to this difference in income. This is seen most often in the cases of stay-at-home moms and dads who do not make any income and suddenly find themselves without the money their ex spouse used to bring in. Alimony payments are most commonly a temporary situation which will last until the spouse who made less income:

  • Readjusts his or her lifestyle to their new income
  • Finds a job
  • Finds a new place to live
  • Remarries

However, there are situations where alimony payments can be permanent. While uncommon, this usually arises when it is clear that an individual’s financial standing is unlikely to ever improve.

Alimony payments should not be confused with child support, which is used to pay for the expenses of a child, such as school supplies and clothing. Therefore it is entirely possible to owe both alimony and child support to an ex, or receive one and pay the other.

Because of this and various other factors, going through a divorce presents numerous unique challenges that many people would not think to consider. However, a divorce lawyer will have experience dealing with these kinds of situations and can help a person pursue larger alimony payments or as little alimony as permissible, depending on which side of the divorce they are on.

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Surprising Roadway Trucking Hazards

Posted by on Jun 16, 2013

Truckers spend their days hauling cargo cross-country for a variety of industries. Their work is incredibly important, and they often make great sacrifices to get the job done. Operating a truck is a demanding job that takes an individual away from his or her family for weeks at a time and requires them to sit for upwards of ten hours a day, which can take a serious toll on a person’s body.

Truckers are often paid for every mile they travel rather than by the hour. They also have a great deal of pressure to meet delivery deadlines. This combination means that stopping or slowing down is actually detrimental to them, as it effects their pay and possibly their standing with their employer. Additionally, roadway laws concerning trucks make it difficult for truckers to stop in certain areas, including:

  • Weight restrictions on exit ramps
  • Bridges that are too low for the truck to pass underneath
  • Areas where operating an 18-wheeler is illegal

Some states have a crippling lack of rest stops as well. North Dakota, a state where the booming oil industry has created a drastic increase in trucker traffic, provides a mere three rest stops for hundreds of miles of busy highways.

All of these pressures have nudged truckers towards what seems to them an intuitive way to keep moving, which increases their overall income, while simultaneously eliminating the need to stop to take care of the biological necessity to expel liquid waste; many truckers have turned to urinating in gallon-sized jugs instead of finding someplace to stop and handle their business. The worst part is, many truckers throw these jugs, commonly called “trucker bombs,” out of their window.

Highways in the northwest are heavily littered with these hazardous jugs. One Washington county tallied cleaning up 2,666 urine-filled bottles in a one year period. Many states take such littering very seriously and impose severe penalties on people they find littering on the highways. Texas has an extensive anti-littering campaign, “Don’t Mess with Texas,” and Pennsylvania is also making a push to increase awareness of highway littering.

This practice is not only a considerable ecological problem, but is clearly also incredibly dangerous. When they’re behind the wheel, truckers should be focusing on their job, which is safely operating their vehicle. Anything that distracts from this could lead to serious accidents. A trucker in Utah lost his life in such an accident. He was found dead in the wreckage with his pants around his ankles and his urine jug spilled all over the cab’s floor.

When truckers fail to operate their heavy, dangerous vehicles in a safe manner and end up injuring innocent motorists, a personal injury lawyer can hold him or her accountable for their reckless behavior.

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