Deadly Tractor-Trailer Accidents in Atlanta

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Motor Vehicle Accidents | 0 comments

A recent accident involving a Ford Mustang and a tractor-trailer yielded the expected results: the driver of the Mustang died instantly while the truck driver did not even sustain minor injuries. However, in this instance the Mustang driver was entirely to blame. The driver, identified as 39-year-old Kevin Miller of Snellville, ploughed into the back of the tractor-trailer which was at full stop at a traffic light.

It is undeniable, though, that tractor-trailers pose a significant danger to other motorists because of their size, weight, and numerous no-zones. A careful truck driver will consider all this when plying the highways of Georgia, but not all truck drivers are so conscientious. A collision between a big rig and a smaller vehicle will usually lead to serious injury or death to the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle.

Many truck drivers are expected to travel for long periods of time and, despite regulations forbidding it, often go beyond the prescribed hours-of-service. As a result, they are over-fatigued or distracted, and much more likely to make a mistake or fall asleep at the wheel. Truck companies may also have been negligent about the maintenance of the vehicles, which could result in a tire blowout or mechanical failure. Another act of negligence is putting inexperienced or unqualified drivers behind the wheel. All these can spell disaster for any motorist sharing the road with truck-trailers.

Any Atlanta personal injury lawyer will probably know that many truck accident victims face considerable medical expenses and long-term health problems. However, they may be eligible for some compensation if the truck driver is partially or wholly responsible for the accident because of some negligent act or failure to act. Unfortunately, Kevin Miller is the rare exception, as he was entirely at fault.

If you have been seriously hurt because of the negligence of a truck driver and/or truck company, at least you do not have to face the financial consequences alone. You can consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer in Atlanta and get some relief from your financial troubles.

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Estate Planning

Posted by on Feb 16, 2015 in Estates | 0 comments

According to the website of Peck Ritchey, two erroneous beliefs about estate planning are it is only for older (and, probably, sick) adults and the rich. Estate planning is a plan that is made before death; its purpose is to name those to whom the testator, or the person writing a will, would want to leave behind his/her assets and/or properties, which include anything of value, such as a house, car, savings account, life insurance, jewelry, furniture plus all other forms of investment. Failure to draft an estate plan will result to the application of the Law of Intestacy, the law that grants authority to the court to decide who gets what.

The drafting of a will is basically the first step in estate planning. Through this will, the testator identifies everything that he/she wants to pass on to his/her spouse, children and other dependents, as well as what or how much cash, specifically, each will have. The testator may also choose to draft a more elaborate will wherein he/she can elect his/her preferred guardian for his/her minor children, name a health-care proxy who will make medical decisions for him/her if ever he/she gets incapacitated and, elect an executor, or the person who will manage the estate left for distribution. This executor is also tasked to see to it that the testator’s last wishes are fulfilled, that all unpaid debts are settled and, after payment of all debts, whatever remains will be distributed to all heirs.

While the mental capacity of the testator is very essential in the drafting of a will (to make sure that he/she was never influenced by anyone and that he/she was perfectly aware of his/her decisions), being counseled by a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional is equally important to ensure that the will’s contents comply with the laws of the state (where the testator resides or where the estate owned is located) and that the rights of every legal heir are observed.

An experienced and skillful lawyer’s assistance can also help effectively address any litigation due to a will contest that an heir may file. Contesting or challenging the validity of a will can be filed by any heir who feels that he/she deserves more than what was left for him/her. An heir can also question the testator’s mental state when the will was drafted, citing any possibility of influence or manipulation by someone with interest in the assets and properties.

As estate and trust disputes involve family members all issues, therefore, are considered sensitive, besides being complex. Failure to address disputes effectively can only result to rivalries between family members which can only create rifts in their relationship.

Family members should understand that an estate plan is meant to put order in their properties and assets, as well as to make sure that they will be able to enjoy the maximum value of everything through reduction of tax and other expenses. Thus, in the event of disagreement, which can lead to litigation, if the family members themselves fail to allay anyone’s doubts, then only a knowledgeable, experienced and skillful lawyer probably can.

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Expert Witnesses in DUIs

Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in Crime | 0 comments

If you watch any of the television shows that center around law and justice, chances are you have come across cases where the trial became a battleground for “expert witnesses.” Often one side would claim one thing and provide supporting evidence while the other side would claim the exact opposite and provide equally valid supporting evidence.

The reality is there are instances when the facts of a case are open to interpretation, even when it gets down to numbers and figures. Expert witnesses are qualified to give opinions that may be considered facts because they have the training and knowledge to deliver such opinions from a professional perspective. And yet, there may be more than one conclusion to be arrived at given a set of circumstances.

In a DUI (driving under the influence) case, for example, the prosecutor will routinely send test results to a Forensic Toxicologist employed by the Department of Justice to interpret as evidence for trial that is also prepared to get on the stand and explain what the results mean to the jury in terms they can understand as laypeople. However, the expert witness may not know all the facts that may impact on the test results, such as the machine used was defective, the samples had been tainted, or the defendant has a medical condition that resulted in a false positive.

The defendant in such cases has the right to challenge the prosecutor’s expert witness but it has to be substantiated by an expert witness as well to objectively provide an alternative explanation for the results that may exonerate the defendant or at least ameliorate the offense. An experienced criminal defense lawyer would know if an expert witness is appropriate under the circumstances (they can be expensive) and if so, what kind of expert witness may be needed to rebut the claims of the prosecution. Furthermore, defense lawyers often have expert witnesses for all types of cases in their roster that they know are qualified, credible, and reliable for the best possible shot of helping a defendant beat the charges.

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The Texas Prompt Pay Act and Pharmacies

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Insurance Laws | 0 comments

The Texas Prompt Pay Act (TPPA) took effect in 2003, but it wasn’t until eight years later in 2011 that the issue of delayed payments to contracted pharmacies was addressed.

The TPPA is a piece of legislation that was four years in the making, beginning in 1999 when the first bill was passed to the state’s House of Representatives. Several revisions later, it was finally signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry which effectively made it a law on September 3, 2003. It addressed the issue of timely payments made to health service providers by Health Management and Preferred Provider Organizations (HMOs and PPOs), or rather the lack thereof.

HMOs and PPOs are health insurance companies that typically contract with third-party providers to do the actual service and in exchange the companies would pay the service providers. Unfortunately, as stated on the website of law firm Williams Kherkher, it became common practice for these carriers to delay payments for claims, and the service providers lobbied for legal leverage to use against these carriers to discourage them from stretching the gap between the service rendered and actual payment.

But the TPPA did not specifically include pharmacies in the list of covered service providers. It wasn’t until House Bills 528 and 2292 were passed in 2011 that it was finally clarified that not only pharmacies but Pharmacy Benefits Managers contracted with HMOs were eligible for protection under the TPPA. Under the clarified TPPA, insurers had 18 days after a clean claim was electronically filed by the pharmacy to pay or explain why a claim is denied. The sanctions for late payments are similar to those for doctors and hospitals except that the late periods are 19-63 days, 64-108, and 109- up.

If you believe that you are eligible for TPPA protection, you need to determine if you are correct in your belief. Consult with an experienced prompt pay lawyer in your area before filing a complaint.

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Domestic Violence Laws in Texas

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Crime | 0 comments

Domestic violence is considered a crime in the state of Texas and it is applicable to any acts of violence committed against any member of a family, a household, or someone who the offender is dating or have dated in the past. These include:

  • Current or past spouse
  • A person with whom the offender lives with
  • A member of the family, whether by blood, adoption, or marriage
  • A child of a past or current partner
  • Someone whom the offender has a child (or children)
  • The offender’s foster parent or foster child
  • Anyone with whom the offender has a present romantic relationship or is currently dating

The state of Texas recognizes three types of domestic violence: domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family. According to the Texas Penal Code § 22.01., anyone can be guilty of domestic assault when they (1) threatening another person with impending physical harm intentionally or knowingly, (2) knowingly or intentionally committing physical contact a person with whom the offender reasonably is aware that the victim would find offensive or provocative, and (3) causing physical injury to a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly.

Kyle Sampson Law explains on its website that a person can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for domestic assault if he or she does not have any prior domestic assault convictions, and they can be charged with a third degree felony when they have been convicted of domestic assault in the past.

Reckless acts account for accounts for anything that is not intended to cause harm but was done without regard of the other person’s safety. Likewise, a provocative or offensive physical contact constitute to an act that does not necessarily cause physical pain or injury to the victim but has upset or left caused a feeling of being violated.

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Wind is a Roof’s Greatest Enemy

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Roofing | 0 comments

When a storm makes landfall, the main concern is not usually water but the wind. This is because when the wind is strong enough, it can wreak a lot of havoc such as damage to persons and property from debris, some of which may very well be parts of your roof.

Ironically, while wind may do the initial damage, the real problem is that it leaves your property exposed to water, ranging from small leaks to true downpours. It is not unusual for an entire roof to be carried off, such as in 2008 when Hurricane Ike capped the property damage to Texas which had been besieged that year with other record storms including Hurricane Hanna and Gustav. When this happens, it is important to get emergency roof repair done to minimize damage to the property and its contents as well as to secure the safety of the people.

Delaying emergency repairs to a badly-damaged roof is a bad idea even if the storm had already passed. One could come along at any time, and even ordinary rainfall can ruin appliances, machines, walls, carpets, electrical systems…the list goes on and on when it comes to water getting in. The cost of emergency roof repair will seem like chump change when considering the alternative.

Not all roofing companies offer emergency roof repair services, however. This is because it requires a lot of dedication to be available with little or no notice to undertake what may be a dangerous situation. When a roof fails, there is the danger of collapse, electrocution, and a host of other accidents-waiting-to-happen even with an experienced technician.

It would be good to find a company that does offer such services in case you ever need them. One company that does offer 24/7 emergency roof repair in the Austin area is Black Slate Roofing at http://www.austinroofingrepaircompany.com/.

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Miranda Rights Explained

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Crime | 0 comments

You hear it often in cop shows when a person is about to be arrested: “You have the right to remain silent…” This is the Miranda warning, and it is designed to explain to a person their rights when they are in police custody. However, it is important to understand that just because you have not yet been arrested and Mirandized that what you say can’t be held against you in a trial.

The Miranda warning first came about after a 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona when the court ruled that the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated upon interrogation because he was not aware of these rights. After that, law enforcement officers were required to explain these rights to a person during their arrest and before an interrogation can take place in order for the statements to be admissible.

However, when a person is just being interviewed and is not yet under formal arrest, the police can elicit information that may be consequently incriminating. They delay making an arrest declaration because they want to keep you talking and not ask for a criminal defense lawyer, who will definitely throw a spanner in the works. Most people want to explain themselves, thinking that the police will see it their way. They will not think about calling a lawyer until it is brought to their attention.

The police know that no verbal statement is admissible in court unless it is captured on video or other recording device, which is why police cars are now equipped with dash cams and interrogation rooms are wired for sound and video. Even if you are just being interviewed, whatever you say that is recorded can be used against you.

For example, if you are detained for whatever reason in Dallas, the only thing you are required to do is to provide identification and proof of insurance if you are driving. Your right to remain silent is always in force; you don’t have to wait to be Mirandized to “activate” it. A Dallas criminal defense lawyer will thank you kindly if you say nothing prior to legal consultation.

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Getting Both Veterans’ Disability and Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in Disability Benefits | 0 comments

Veterans in the U.S. are accorded as many benefits as the government can offer in appreciation for their service to the country. One of these benefits is veterans’ disability, which comes into play when an injury or disability happens while a person is on active duty, even during peace time. In essence, it is similar to workers’ compensation, which is an insurance policy employers take out in case one of their workers is hurt on the job. According to the website of the Hankey Law Office P.C., what most veterans don’t realize is that they could be receiving veterans’ disability and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time in certain instances. Seeking both at the same time can be complex, but it is entirely possible.

There two basic types of veterans’ disability types: Individual Unemployability (IU) and scheduler. Under IU, the veteran sustained injuries of a type and severity that would keep them from getting “gainfully” employed. The vet can still work but not “gainfully.” Because this term can be interpreted quite loosely, most IU recipients choose not to risk losing it by taking on even the most minimal work.

Schedular disability, on the other hand, does not preclude the veteran from working full-time because their injuries do not render them unable to work. For example, if a veteran in Illinois suffers back injuries while on active duty that keeps them from doing any heavy lifting, he or she would qualify for schedular veterans’ disability. While they are receiving these benefits, they could be employed full-time as a data encoder and receiving any amount in salary; there is no ceiling for scheduler disability recipients. If that vet develops carpal tunnel syndrome, it is possible for him or her to claim workers’ comp with the help of a Champaign workers’ compensation lawyer while receiving vet disability. There would be no disqualification or reduction in benefits being received.

The above is a simplistic example; it is merely to illustrate that it is possible for these two benefits to co-exist. However, there are more complex issues in an actual case, and it would be important to first consult with a veterans’ disability lawyer in your state before making a workers’ comp claim to find out the consequences.

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Risperdal: Downplaying Medical Risks Cost Billions

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Hospital Risks | 0 comments

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay a total of $2.2 billion to settle criminal charges and civil liability claims for its products under subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals which includes Risperdal, a top-selling anti-psychotic drug that proved to subject the elderly with dementia to an unacceptable degree of risk for stroke and other potentially fatal disorders. A San Diego personal injury lawyer or a Houston wrongful death lawyer would be equally interested in this fact.

Risperdal started out well when it was first approved in 1993 and prescribed for use in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism. It was considered safe enough to be administered to children, although there were well-publicized side effects that both doctors and patients were aware of and considered acceptable given the benefits, except in some occurrences of gynecomastia and increased suicidality. However, Risperdal was never approved for managing the behavior of the elderly diagnosed with dementia.

This is where J&J made a misstep; the drug was aggressively marketed for this purpose, and plaintiffs claim that the company knew about the medical risks it posed to that particular population segment.  And because many of these patients were using state health benefits to pay for the drug or for nursing home care that used the drug, states have also joined in the litigation fray with varying degrees of success.

The settlement is quite massive, considered the largest to date for any antipsychotic drug. However, since Risperdal was immensely popular with a wide market base, it had made the drugmaker a lot of money before product liability lawsuits started coming in. It is highly probable that the pharmaceutical giant can take it in stride with little trouble.

If you have had an elderly family member with dementia die of stroke or suffer serious injury while taking Risperdal, you may be able to prove causation. Hire a Risperdal lawyer to undertake an investigation in order to get compensation for your loss.

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Death and Bank Accounts

Posted by on Aug 3, 2014 in Estates | 5 comments

If you have an email account, chances are you have received an email from a purported Nigerian prince or bank officer who offers you a slice of a large bank account that has been “abandoned.” While such emails are most probably scams, abandoned accounts do exist, and there are ways for a legitimate heir to recover it legally through a probate or estate planning lawyer. It happens more often than people realize.

Many people fail to make provisions for what happens to their bank accounts when they die. This is especially true for people who have no expectations of dying in the near future i.e. car accident fatality, but even those who have the forethought to plan their estate neglect to appoint a beneficiary or leave other instructions regarding their active bank accounts. This can be a problem for the estate administrator or executor because the bank accounts will have to go through the probate process. It may also be an issue when it comes to distributing the funds.

There are many factors that come into play depending on what kind of bank account is in question. The simplest matter would be when the account is jointly held and at least one of the account holders is still alive. Upon presentation of the death certificate, the living account holder can have the name of the deceased removed and get full access to the funds. If the account is “held in trust for” a named person, that person can also get the funds upon presentation of the account holder’s death certificate.

In Illinois as in most states, if the account holder died intestate, the court will compile a list of people who are eligible to manage the estate from which the heirs choose one, and that person will be allowed access to bank accounts to pay for “last expenses” such as the costs of a funeral and burial. The remaining will be subject to probate and distributed according to state intestacy laws. Chicago estate planning lawyers will know what is due to legitimate heirs, so it would be wise to retain one if only to protect your rights.

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