Modern sailing horrors

There are few careers as romantic to the imagination as that of being a sailor. The word itself conjures up images of wooden ships, pirates with peg legs, distant adventures around the equator, and other things we’ve picked up from hundreds of years of books, operas, musicals, and movies on the subject.

Sailors are always seen as daring, full of clever lines and camaraderie. They’re often tough but with a tender side. Given that stereotypical image, why don’t more people want to be sailors today?

The modern sailor, it has to be said, for those who even consider the idea anymore, does not enjoy that dashing romantic life we’ve come to believe in. In fact, it was probably never a career that fun or amusing. The journeys were tough, dangerous, and long. There was weather, disease, and loneliness to contend with, among many other things.

Surprisingly, the modern sailor’s situation isn’t all that different. Though the ships are now city-sized tankers that constantly prowl across the ocean, and the wooden pirate ships are long out of fashion, it is still a career of last resort, one taken up often by the poor and the desperate.

And it is still very dangerous.

According to the Telegraph, 34 ships still sink every year. As the article suggests, imagine if that were true of planes or trains. How would we react? And yet, with ships, it is shrugged off, because sinking ships and dying sailors (around 2,000 a year) have always been part of our understanding of the world.

Perhaps just as amazing is the amount of lawlessness that still exists on the seas. That same article is full of horrible events that took place because of that mad lawlessness of people far from land and accountability.

The sailors suffer the brunt of this abuses, and the bulk of these deaths as well.

From the sound of that article, it seems like there aren’t much of the musical-type hijinks and capering about that we’ve all come to associate with the career. In fact, the author calls sailors slaves in the article.

It’s incredible how dangerous that career is, and how little we care, considering how crucial shipping is to our modern way of life. It’s really not so different in that sense from 200 years ago.

And yet, we’ve let these people suffer from appalling conditions. And that doesn’t even take into account the continuing struggles against the weather and other natural problems ships come up against.

At least nowadays there are places for US citizens to go if they are involved in any of these troubles. Lawyers can take cases of abuse, accident, and injury and help get sailors get compensation after the fact. It’s something at least, but not enough.

Perhaps it’s time for us to update our view of what it is to be a sailor and to find a way to help those in that profession to live lives with a little more security and dignity.

Read More

Child Support is only Legally Required until the Child Turns Eighteen, Graduates from High School, or is Emancipated

The Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 considers it a major legal responsibility of all American parents to support their biological children after divorce. Child support is a monthly financial assistance paid by a non-custodial parent (or the obligor) to the custodial parent (or obligee). It is intended to cover the child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, healthcare, shelter and education, and is usually paid until the child turns 18. Although states differ with regard to the factors they consider in determining child support issues, some factors are similar, such as: the age and the needs of the child, and the cost of these needs; the parents’ income, which includes salary, commissions, overtime pay, dividends, and so forth; the age and health of both parents; and, the parent’s capability to pay child support.

Sometimes, besides the child’s basic needs, the court may also require the obligor to contribute to his/her child’s distant financial activities and needs, like college education, dental and/or medical needs, vacation and others.

There are instances when the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent may find it necessary to request for changes in the court’s original decision regarding child support due to these reasons: improved financial situation of the non-custodial parent or obligor, thus the possibility of increasing the amount of support; or the obligor’s financial capability getting reduced, maybe due of loss of job or poor health condition that requires regular medical treatment and medication, thus necessitating a reduction in the amount of support he/she ought to pay. Any changes, however, will have to be decided by the court as the issue is a legal matter and any attempt of the obligor to negotiate directly with the obligee (or vice versa), can result to contempt of court.

According to the law firm Kirker Davis, LLP, under Texas law, all parents have a legal duty to financially support their children, regardless of whether they are present in the child’s life or not. Child support is legally mandated, periodic payments that are meant to offset the costs of a child’s general well-being, from basic necessities to expenses associated with education and health care. Usually, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the parent who has primary custody and incurs most of the child’s living expenses. However, there are situations where both parents can be ordered by a judge to pay child support. Decisions regarding who must pay whom depend on who has physical custody of the child.

Child support is only legally required until the child turns eighteen, graduates from high school, or is emancipated. The amount of child support that the court mandates depends on the child’s specific needs and the obligor’s level of income. These two factors are variable as time goes on, so a child support agreement may be modified to accommodate changes in the child’s needs or the obligor’s salary.

Read More

Potholes as Road Hazards

Car accidents happen because of many reasons. They can happen because of driver error and recklessness, such as distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding. They can happen because of manufacturer negligence and defective auto parts. But one of the most overlooked factors that can cause car accidents is road hazards, particularly potholes.

Potholes form when tiny cracks in the roads widen and deepen because of further erosion. Many roads have potholes, and in turn, many motorists are also at risk of accidents caused by these road defects. According to the website of the Milwaukee car accident attorneys of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, municipal agencies responsible for the maintenance of roadways may be held liable for auto accidents that have occurred due to potholes. This is especially true if the accident has caused injury or death.

But how do potholes contribute to car accidents specifically? Firstly, drivers who see potholes have the instinct of avoiding them by swerving. If their vehicles switch to another lane, they are putting themselves in danger of possible collisions with stationary objects or other moving objects such as vehicles, motorcycles, and pedestrians in the other lane. In this kind of accident, it can be argued that driver error has played a role. But it doesn’t change the fact that the existence of the pothole is what triggered the accident in the first place.

There are instances where drivers intentionally go through potholes instead, especially if they cannot swerve because of other vehicles in the other lanes. If these drivers are going too fast and are not holding onto the steering wheel hard enough, they may momentarily lose control of their vehicles and cause crashes or collisions.

Those who go through potholes also put their vehicles at risk of sustaining damages, particularly in the tires. Going through potholes have been known to cause tire blowouts and car crashes.
There are also drivers who unintentionally go through the potholes. This mostly occurs when the drivers don’t even know that there are potholes in the area. These unsuspecting drivers may be vulnerable to rollover accidents and vehicle ejections.

Read More

The DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement: A Recalled Medical Device

The ball and socket joint, more commonly known as the hip joint, is one of the largest joints in the human body. Its major function is to support the upper body in various activities, including walking, running or standing; it also enables a person to perform certain movements, such as bending and stretching.

Hip joints are made up of bones that are connected by tough tissues, called ligaments, and strong muscles which hold the hip joint together and prevent it from becoming dislocated. Ligaments are lubricated with fluid so as to reduce the friction between bones, while another kind of tissue, called the cartilage, surrounds the joints to prevent the bones from rubbing against each other.

Despite the ligaments and the muscles that protect the hip joint, there are still instances when this joint gets damaged, such as when a person suffers: hip fracture due to a fall or an accident; rheumatoid arthritis, which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints’ lining; or osteoarthritis, or wear and tear of the arthritis, a condition wherein the cartilage becomes worn away, resulting to the rubbing of the bones.

A damaged hip joint, which causes persistent pain and makes everyday activities harder to perform, needs to be replaced. Replacement will be an artificial joint, known as prosthesis – this can be made from metal alloy or ceramic.

Hip joint replacement is done through surgery, a medical practice which began in the 1960s. Its purpose is to improve a person’s quality of life by relieving him/her of the pain due to damaged hip, as well as improving the function of his/her hip and ability to move around.

One product which became a well-accepted hip joint replacement was the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular metal-on-metal hip replacement. This Johnson & Johnson product was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for distribution in 2005. As it was the first orthopedic company in the U.S., DePuy Orthopaedics become a trusted name and was able to maintain leadership in the hip replacement business for more than 40 years.

According to the law firm Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, however, the fame of the DePuy ASR hip replacement was not able to hide the serious problems which caused patients (implanted with the device) to develop severe medical conditions or require additional surgery. The damaging effects the DePuy device has been linked with include dangerous, even deadly, fragments from the device spreading inside the body, bone fracture, component misalignment, loosening components, metal sensitivity, dislocation, pain, bone staining, increased levels of metal ion in the blood, metal toxicity or metal poisoning, infection, swelling, necrosis (or tissue death), and nerve, muscle and tissue damage.

In 2008 and onwards, about 400 complaints have reached the FDA concerning revision surgeries on patients who have been implanted with the DePuy ASR hip replacement. Due to the complaints and the side effects the device has been linked to, DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. issued a recall on the devide on August 24, 2010. With more than a million patients worldwide having received the DePuy hip implant, more lawsuits are expected to be filed.

Defective medical devices is just one area of the various frightening realities which make up the issue of medical malpractice. Liable parties, whether manufacturers of pharmaceutical products or medical health professionals need to be brought to justice; harmed patients, on the other hand, have the legal right to seek compensation for all the damages these defective devices may cause them. Being represented by a skilled, experienced and determined lawyer may be a necessity to make sure that the injured victim gets the compensation that he/she legally deserves.

Read More

Workplace Accidents

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that became one of the most commonly used materials throughout the 20th century, namely in construction, manufacturing, and shipbuilding industries. Come mid-20th century, however, the connection between asbestos exposure and harmful respiratory problems-often cancerous- was made, and it’s use was strictly limited thereafter. According to Williams Kherkher, companies are responsible for taking reasonable safety precautions and making sure workers and visitors are kept out of danger, but unfortunately, the necessary precautions are not always carried out to the fullest, or even at all. Even though federal law mandated as of 1970 that no building, construction or worksite may contain more than 1% of asbestos, the United States is still one of the few developed countries that hasn’t banned it all together. Naturally, this leaves a window of possible exposure open. The most common occupations that have the highest potential for exposure include construction workers, railroad workers, contract workers, factory employees, military personnel, and firefighters, all of which are exposed to and must handle asbestos in the workplace.

Read More

Negligent Hiring of Truck Drivers: The Cause of Many Major Accidents

One fatal trucking accident which may probably be considered as among the worst that have occurred in the US was the one that took place on Interstate 80 on the morning of August 1, 2006. A minivan, which had four occupants in it (a woman, her mother, and her two sons – one 15 months old while the other was 3 years old) was caught in traffic congestion and slowed down behind a flat-bed truck. Approaching behind the van was a three-axle Intercontinental 9400 semi-trailer, which was said to have failed to slow down in time. The truck rear-ended the van, crushed and slammed it into the flat-bed truck, causing it and the semi-trailer to be engulfed by a horrific fire. No one survived the accident: not the semi-trailer driver and, definitely, not the occupants of the minivan.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says that fatal truck accidents happen almost 11 times a day, resulting to more than 4,000 deaths and more than 100,000 injuries each year. While this number of fatalities caused by trucks is only a tenth of the number of deaths resulting from car accidents, truck accidents remain to be more tragic due to their much more destructive results.

Despite the threats presented by trucks (because of the severity of the damages that these can cause in the event of an accident), there is no way that these huge vehicles will be removed from US roads and highways due to their major contribution to the country’s economy. Therefore, in order to allay the fear of so many other motorists from sharing the road with these vehicles, the government makes sure that only qualified, licensed and well trained drivers are allowed to operate them. Laws have also been passed, all of which are aimed at ensuring the safety operation of trucks; laws like the allowed maximum number of driving hours and the required number of hours of rest, lower level of blood alcohol concentration (0.04%), strict prohibition of the use of cell phone, use of standard tires and brakes, regular maintenance of the vehicle, and a mandate on employers to keep bad drivers off the road.

Upon digging deeper into the accident mentioned above, however, a private investigator hired by the lawyer of the victim’s family found out that driver of the semi-truck had 3 past cases of rear-end accidents, 7 warnings from his safety manager, and drove at an unsafe speed prior to the accident: the warnings and the past cases of rear-end accidents, according to traffic authorities, should have been seen by the driver’s employer as a red flag for unsafe driving, more than enough reason to keep the driver off the road.

According to the website of the Abel Law Firm, hiring a driver with a bad driving record (that is, with a history of accidents or other moving violations) is a grave act of negligent hiring – a major offense committed by employers who only intend to increase their own profit. This is one example of careless employer act to which any employer can be held totally responsible and for which he/she can be required to answer in court.

Read More

How Is Premises Liability Still Personal Injury?

In the most basic definition of personal injury, it talks of an injury that has been done onto a person due to the negligence of another party. The injury itself need not be physical in nature but can also be emotional, mental, or any combination of the three. So how can premises liability still be a subset of personal injury since, from the name alone, the party liable for the injury is the premises itself – and you can’t very well sue a building or a park, can you?

The thing about premises liability is that the premises itself may not be sentient but, as according to any Georgetown personal injury lawyer, the owner or manager of the premises is. It is the responsibility of the ones responsible for the premises to make sure that those who may pass by or enter the area of responsibility are free from any harm.

For example, the place should not be coated with paint lined with lead. Wet or slick floors should have warning sign in order to make people be extra careful with how they tread. Ceilings and sealing wax and pillars and all sorts of things need to be made with the utmost care and precision in order to ensure the safety of the people who are in the building. If any of these things are ignored or neglected, then that carelessness could result into someone’s injury – and that is what makes it a kind of personal injury.

If you or someone you know has suffered a debilitating injury due to the negligence of any sort of premises such as a mall, a park, an office building, or some such – it is recommended to contact a personal injury lawyer that specializes with this particular branch of the law in order to be certain that the case does actually fall into the responsibility of premises liability. An experienced professional will then be able to guide you through the legal process smoothly and allow for transition into normalcy just that much smoother.

Read More

Should I File for Personal Injury or Not?

Legally speaking, the term ‘personal injury’ is an injury that is dealt upon a person – instead of, say, a product or property. It sounds like it can cover a multitude of grounds and that’s because it can. There are subsets upon subsets of personal injury and it can get quite complicated if there are more factors to consider about the case. For example, if a person were to be punched in the face in another person and the injured party were to want to file a case of personal injury (or assault) against the person who did the punching – that should technically be within the grounds of personal injury, right?

The thing is, you could try and file a serious legal battle against the guilty party but there are certain costs to think about. Does the injury in question warrant medical treatment or even lost wages from work? Was there substantial trauma sustained by the injury dealt upon the person? The point is: just because you, technically, could maybe try to file for personal injury doesn’t mean that you should.

Things that warrant claims of personal injury are, as according to the website of the Law Offices of Williams Kherkher, are those that involve incredible damage to the person – physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially.

Things like car accidents, 18-wheeler truck accidents, and the like are, for example, situations that then truly merit legal action. After all, being seriously injured in an accident can mean effects that ripple not just to the person who’d suffered from the injury but also the people around the victim. What if the victim was the primary income earner of a family – or if an entire company depended on this person being able to do their work? There is a lot of damage there and that kind of damage demands compensation that is received through legal means.

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured through the mistakes of someone else, it is recommended that the advice and help of an attorney with experience in personal injury is sought immediately.

Read More

Some Things to Consider About Divorce

Deciding to file for divorce can be one of the most important personal decisions you ever make in your life. After all, it means severing the relationship between you and your (soon to be) ex-partner permanently and being allowed to pursue new relationships. Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, once said: Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.

And sometimes these things really do need to happen in order for your life to move on the way it should. However, the first thing you really need to consider about divorce is considering divorce. Are you completely sure that this is something you want? It may sound like a redundant question but sometimes, there are people who file for divorce only to back out of it later into the deal, making for unnecessary stress. You need to properly consider and make sure that this is the course of action that you are fully dedicating your commitment. (Sound familiar?)

Another thing you have to consider is the separation of assets between one another as well as custody of the children, if there are any. Which of your shared assets will go to you and which ones will go to your (soon to be) ex-spouse? This can be a complicated, emotionally driven battle especially, according to the website of Denton divorce lawyers Alexander & Associates. Though everyone wants a smoothly flowing case, there are going to be disputes along the way – and that is why it is so important to make sure that there are objective parties to the case who can advise opposing parties onto suitable compromises.

Support and custody may be some things that also need to be talked about, lastly enough. Spousal support may be necessary for a multitude of reasons as well as child support. There are many things that need to be considered about divorce and it is important to have a good talk with your lawyer before making any rash, permanent decisions about the case. Make sure if you do choose to seek legal council, that they are within your state, and if possible county.

Read More

Is Filing for Bankruptcy the Right Step for You?

Many people in this day and age experience financial difficulty at least at one point in their lives. It can be tempting to think that there is nothing wrong and to believe that everything will just sort itself out without you having to make a move. However, that is hardly ever the case and things can only get worse if you sweep very serious issues involving finances under the rug like that.

One such solution to financial troubles is bankruptcy. Many a Dallas bankruptcy attorney would be aware that the word has gotten a bit of a bad reputation over the years and many people still view it as the end-all solution, meaning that they think that there’s no getting out of the financial trouble they’ve managed to get in. However, filing for bankruptcy can actually mean a fresh start at a better credit history as well as being given a bit of peace of mind from creditors that are constantly calling to that point that you might even call it harassment. The thing about bankruptcy though is that, while it isn’t the bad guy it’s always been painted out to be, it is not always the step that people need to make. That’s what the advice of professional bankruptcy attorneys are for.

According to the website of Greenway Bankruptcy Law, LLC, filing for certain kinds of bankruptcy can mean that you must pass a certain kind of test in order to qualify for that particular kind of bankruptcy. A prime example of this would be the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, which is one of the most popular types of bankruptcies, wherein the person filing for it would have to qualify for it through the means test.

After all, objectively professional opinion and help could mean one thing but a person who is sympathetic to your plight can mean the world when dealing with something as potentially crucial as financial matters. It is then recommended that the attorney you seek for these dealings has sufficient experience with handling bankruptcy cases in order to make sure that you are getting only the very best of advice as well as help that you can get.

Read More