Night of the Wrongful Death

car accidentHalloween is considered by law enforcement to be one of the deadliest nights of the year, as it is the one night of the year that children are out on the streets at the same time as adults are getting drunk and behind the wheel. That is an unfortunate combination that, sadly, results in many preventable deaths.

Halloween 2014 ended with the deaths of three 13-year-old girls out trick or treating in California, while in Arizona 5 people (2 children and 3 adults, one in a wheelchair) survived when they were hit by a car while crossing a street but four of them are in critical condition.

In many cases, pedestrians are hit by vehicles operated by an impaired driver who was driving too fast pr failed to slow down at crosswalks. Many of the victims are children, some as young as two years old. But not every accident was caused by high blood alcohol content. One child was struck by a bus on the highway when the adults failed to properly supervise the toddler. On at least one occasion, the victim ran out into the street without looking.

In such instances, assigning fault is not always easy, although leaving the scene, which is what happened in several of the incidents, is already a crime in itself. Such tragic incidents often have long-reaching consequences for all parties concerned. It would be advisable for parents to closely supervise young children and caution older ones repeatedly while trick or treating.

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Abortion Laws Challenged in Oklahoma

clinicIt seems that the battle between pro-choice and pro-life rages on despite the four decades the issue had to be resolved after the ruling in Roe v. Wade which established the constitutional right of women to privacy that limits how far the government can interfere in personal life decisions, which includes the right to abort. In Oklahoma, the right to abort is being effectively hamstrung in terms of legal and assisted abortion as two new laws (similar to laws in 8 other states) would effectively close down two of the three abortion clinics in the state.

The first law is SB 1848, or the Oklahoma Protection of Human Life Act of 2014, which requires that an abortion physician or clinic to have admitting privileges in a hospital in the vicinity. The second law is HB 2684, or Oklahoma Medication Abortion Ban, which restricts the use of abortifacient drugs i.e. mifepristone-misoprostol, by requiring physician administration and supervision, and none at all after the 49th day of pregnancy. Both laws go into effect on November 2014.

Pro-choice advocates condemn these new restrictions as a thinly-veiled attempt to shut down abortion clinics and to prevent women from getting a legal abortion. They say that such restrictions on legal abortion will only induce those who want one to do it illegally, which can seriously endanger their health.

The largest abortion provider in the state, Dr. Larry Burns, has sued the state to block the implementation of SB 1848, claiming that the law is unconstitutional. An earlier lawsuit was filed two days prior by the Reproductive Services, another abortion provider, to challenge HB 2684. Similar laws had already been ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, and the plaintiffs expect that the same fate will befall these two pieces of legislation.

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Boundaries of Freedom of Speech

constitutionThe right of Americans to say what they mean, verbally or symbolically, is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. However, this does not mean that you can say anything to anyone anywhere at any time. There are boundaries that have been established over the years by the courts to ensure that the freedom of speech of one person does not impinge on the rights of other people or cause undue harm. The body of case law over this issue is extensive and complex, but there are some general rules that make it easier to determine when the line has been crossed in particular circumstances. Here are some instances where speech is not protected under the Constitution.

When it incites violence

Keep in mind that words can be powerful incentives to act. While a person who speaks may not be the physical actor in an illegal or violent event, if the words incite this type of event, he or she can be held criminally liable. A good example is inciting a group of people to kill or injure a certain type of person as a matter of principle. This presents a clear and present danger that has to be prevented.

When they are “fighting words”

It is not simply a comic way of describe derogatory, insulting, or obscene words that elicits an immediate, violent response from the listener. This is actually a legal doctrine to define when a verbal act is not protected and can be criminally punished.

When they are false

Libel and slander are the terms used for any verbal or written declaration that misleads the listeners into believing falsehoods about another person or an organization. There is no protection under the law for saying something which is not true and results in damage to the subject of the lies.

When it conflicts with government or social interests

When saying something can put others in danger, even if it is true, the freedom of speech can be suspended. In times of war, for example, broadcasting troop movements would be a breach of national security. In a trial, the court can issue a gag order on witnesses and attorneys to ensure fairness subject to certain criteria.

While Americans are justly proud of their constitutional rights, these are not absolute. There can be restrictions placed if the circumstances justify it.

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The Difference between Murder and Manslaughter

murderThe media has recently dedicated a lot of attention to the June 19, 2014 death of a 22-month-old toddler in Georgia after being left for 7 hours in a car in the heat of the day. The father claimed that he had simply forgotten that his son was in the car when he had come in for work that day, and only remembered when he was on his way to meet friends after work. The man is being charged with murder and 2nd degree child cruelty.

Under Georgia law, murder is when there is malice aforethought. There is no distinction between an intent to kill (first degree murder) and reckless disregard (second degree murder); when a person is killed without provocation, it is murder. When the death was accidental, it is manslaughter, which is a less serious crime. The fact that the father in the aforementioned case was charged with murder suggests that the police believe that the child had been deliberately left to die and that it was not accidental.

It can be difficult to fully understand the difference between a charge of murder and manslaughter, especially in a case like this. Basically, it boils down to the intent of the actor that brought about the death of an individual. Was there intent to bring about the death of that person, or was it a true accident?

This is the current debate among media people who are speculating on the case. But a case like this is seldom cut and dry, and while the evidence so far appears to point towards deliberate child murder, there seems to be no motive for it. According to reports, the family appeared to be a normal one, with no apparent incidents of child abuse or neglect.

There is a good case to be made for either side, something that a competent criminal defense lawyer will use to bring about conviction for the lesser charge of manslaughter. Depending on how the case goes, it is possible for a manslaughter conviction to result in a suspended sentence, so it is in the best interest of a defendant in a murder charge to retain an experienced and smart criminal defense lawyer.


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Tax Consequences for Personal Injury Awards

When a personal injury claim is successful, the award is usually considered compensatory, meaning that it is meant to replace that which has been lost. This may be as reimbursement for actual expenses (medical bills, rehabilitation, doctor’s fees, etc.), damage to property, and loss of income (lost days of work due to temporary disability, incapacity to work due to physical disability, or death). These are economic damages. Most states also allow a claimant to sue for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment.

Awards for physical injury or illness non-taxable and these include medical expenses, unless these expenses have been reported as deductions in the tax return. Lost wages compensation is also non-taxable, as are awards for emotional distress from the illness or physical injury. However, since most personal injury claims take a while to get to the awards or settlement stage, the court or lawyer may impose interest charges for the delay in the payment. The interest charge will become taxable.

All other types of personal injury awards are taxable. For example, compensation for legal injuries from harassment or wrongful termination is taxed, and so is any award for emotional distress not tied to a physical illness or injury. Punitive damages, that amount deemed to serve as punishment to the wrongdoer, is also taxable, whether it is for a physical or legal injury, unless it is to compensate for a wrongful death where the state allows only such awards to be given.

It should be noted that attorney’s fees are not tax-deductible except for certain cases involving discrimination. Unless properly handled, the legal fees, though on contingency basis, may carve a larger-than-expected portion out of the award. Bring these matters up with the attorney and accountant so that an equitable arrangement can be made prior to filing for a personal injury claim in Danville. 

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Temporary Alimony Dependent on Need, Other Factors

Alimony, or as some call it by the more politically correct term spousal support, in Texas is not a given. There are several types of alimony that may be awarded, and one of them is temporary alimony. It is also known as alimony pendent lite which means “pending suit,” and it is usually awarded while the divorce process is ongoing.

As the term implies, temporary alimony is of limited duration, although the same terms in a temporary alimony award may be used for a longer term after the divorce is final as a rehabilitative or permanent alimony. Temporary alimony is intended to prevent financial hardship for the spouse who has no independent means of support or who may be earning significantly less until such time as the divorce is final. There are no hard and fast rules for the granting of or terms of temporary alimony; it will depend on circumstances presented before the judge. In general, though, spousal support is $2,500 monthly or 20% of the income of the supporting spouse whichever is higher and will not extend beyond 3 years after the divorce has been finalized unless the petitioning spouse is disabled.

Factors that may determine whether temporary alimony will be granted and how much include:

  • Financial situation of the petitioning spouse and supporting spouse
  • Ability and capability of the petitioning spouse to find gainful employment (includes skills, education, age, physical health, role as caregiver)
  • Responsibility of either spouse for the needless loss of community property or incurring of superfluous debt
  • Role of the unemployed spouse in the home
  • Extent of the efforts of petitioning spouse to find gainful employment or training
  • Marital misconduct of the petitioning spouse
  • Child custody

The petitioning spouse has to prove that there is a real need and hardship existing as a result of a divorce petition. Because a typical divorce can take as much as two years to finalize, temporary alimony serves a significant purpose.

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Why Pharmaceutical Errors Are Especially Dangerous

Assuming your doctor finds the correct diagnosis for your condition, he or she will likely prescribe you with some type of medication.

Modern medicine is the culmination of decades complex studies in chemistry and biology. There is no such thing as a “wonder drug” that will work to cure all diseases, and as a matter of fact, using the wrong medication for a condition can have drastic consequences on a patient. This is why it’s essential that doctors and pharmacists communicate effectively.

medical malpracticeWhen an individual is prescribed medication, it is imperative that they receive that kind of medication in the correct dosage. Sadly, it is not incredibly uncommon for doctors or pharmacists to make mistakes that can lead to patients receiving the wrong medication or dosage. These mistakes can be a result of simple negligence, such as a pharmacist putting the wrong pills in a bottle, or a doctor’s illegible handwriting.

Receiving the wrong medications because of a pharmaceutical error can be incredibly dangerous for a person’s well-being. Not only do these errors result in a patient’s condition going untreated, but they can cause unwanted side effects that mask what’s actually happening.

Patients can reduce their chances of falling prey to such errors by asking their doctors and pharmacists questions about their prescriptions. Be sure to know the names, dosages, shape, and color of any drugs a doctor prescribes to you to be sure you are receiving the correct medications.

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Election Polls: Suffering From A Brain Injury

 An injury to the brain can be very dangerous, and could lead to adverse complications that can be life-threatening. Brain damage could be a lifetime issue; with its effects affecting people long after the injury has been treated. When you have suffered brain damage from an accident caused by another person’s recklessness or malice, then they can be held accountable for the injury you have sustained. Getting a compensation for the harm you have received requires the help of reliable and experienced brain injury attorneys who knows how to properly fight your rights in court.

The brain is considered the focal point of the body; its main function is operating the everyday functions of the body. Once this part of the body is injured, the consequences can be damaging and long-term. Depending on the extent of the damage, compensation can be hard to determine, especially when there are guidelines that can be observed concerning monetary payouts for brain damage victims. When you are considering of filing a personal injury claim, talking with your injury attorneys would be most beneficial to ensure you have decided for a fair amount of compensation.

Every year 1.5 million people get some form of brain injury, with people reaching 5.3 million suffering from the effects of brain damage. Fatalities linked to brain injuries account for 50, 000 people, and these numbers are very alarming. Not only is brain injuries a leading cause of death in America, more and more people are enduring brain damages.

Treatment for brain injuries may come in many forms, from speech therapy to alternative therapies like music lessons, or art lessons. An experienced doctor or speech pathologist may be able to suggest the right course of treatment for you.

In order to ease some burdens caused by the brain damage due to your accident, it would be very advantageous to employ the aid of trustworthy brain injury attorneys to represent and support you in your quest for financial compensation. It is important to get the right attorneys for the job to guarantee that you are well represented and guided through the whole process.

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Election Advantage: Driver Errors Committed By Motorists

Each and every motorist has the responsibility to uphold the duty of safe driving while on the road. When a driver neglects this duty, a simple error in judgment can result to devastating accidents which can injure innocent drivers and bystanders. When a vehicular accident has resulted from a drivers’ negligence, then he or she will be held liable for the injuries sustained by people involved in the accident.

Although albeit similar to reckless driving, driver errors are deemed as a passive form of danger; depending on certain situations, some driver errors could lead to legal liability more quickly as compared to other situations. Some of the most common forms of driver errors committed by motorists are:

  1. Failure to follow traffic signals and signs
  2. Over-speeding, driving too slow, and other moving violations
  3. Failure to maintain the car conditions resulting in broken brakes, mirrors, headlights, brake lights and other car parts
  4. Driving while distracted
  5. Road rage
  6. Failure to yield to other drivers

Driver errors are a huge contributor in car accidents, mainly because inconsiderate driving of other people could lead to dangerous situations resulting to road accidents. Medical costs, car repairs, property damages and other considerations may be too much to bear, especially if you are already suffering from the pain of the accident. One way to ease the burden is through a personal injury claim.

If you are considering a personal injury claim, there are certain factors you should first consider, such as state laws, insurance, and other things. Personal injury claims can be complex and time-consuming, so it would best to have personal injury attorney who can help in giving you necessary legal advice as well as represent you in court when needed.  An auto accident attorney would be enough to protect and fight for your right for compensation.

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Snowstorm postpones South Dakota Elections

south dakota stormMany of today’s local elections in South Dakota have been postponed due to a massive snowstorm. The storm has brought severe lightning and thunder as well as rain and winds, making travel in the state perilous. Residents are advised to be aware of the potential for power outages as well.

South Dakota’s Secretary of State, Jason Gant, has reported that polls in at least two dozen cities and school districts will not open today as a result of the inclement weather. The state requested that citizens remain indoors and only people whose work is “essential” were required to report for duty at the state’s Air Force base.

South Dakota has been experiencing dry conditions and wildfires. Local farmers welcome the rain, and hope for more to come.

The state’s polls will reopen next week.

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