Storing your RV properly

Recreational vehicles or RVs are great to have, especially when you like to go on road trips with your family when the weather is clear and the air is warm. However, they are a considerable investment, and it is necessary to protect them from disuse and the elements during the winter months. In most cases, you will not have the space to store an RV in your garage, and most communities will not allow RVs to be parked for long periods on the street. You will have to place your RV in a storage unit when you will not be using it for some months, and that is something that you have to plan carefully.

Find a Storage Unit

Not all storage companies have the facilities to store an RV. An RV requires a very large room. Those who live in towns that have this kind of storage can consider themselves lucky. However, that is just step one in your storage plan.

Inspect for Holes

You have to make sure that rodents will not bed down for the winter in your RV and chew on wires and upholstery. They can get through very small holes so even the best storage units will not be proof against them. Check the undercarriage of the RV, and every nook and cranny inside including drawers and cabinet doors for any holes or gaps. Fill it with expanding foam or silicone after first experimenting with it to get a feel for the stuff.

Remove all Food

Remove anything and everything that can be construed as food that can attract rodents and insects. Use a liberal amount of mothballs and make sure that all the surfaces are wiped down with a disinfectant. Defrost and clean the freezer, prop the doors open, and place baking soda to absorb odors.

Close Everything Down

Turn off the main breaker of the RV and the LPG supply valve. Disconnect the battery, and store them where it won’t freeze. Clean the AC filter and leave it out to dry. Close blind and shades but leave drawers and cabinets open to air them. Remove batteries from flashlights and clocks but keep them close by for next time you need them.

Wash the Exterior

Leaving dust and grime on your RV in storage will degrade the finish and paint, so wash it down thoroughly from roof to undercarriage and apply a good coat of wax. Seal any cracks you might see with a sealant recommended by your RV dealer. Remove fabric awning to be washed and dried before storing.

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Parents Battle over Son’s Circumcision in Court

shutterstock_141950806In what may later be the bane of a Florida child’s existence, a legal battle has sprung up between his biological parents over whether or not he should undergo a circumcision. The child named Chase has become the unwitting flag bearer of a movement to prevent child circumcision, featured in signs such as “Let Chase Keep His Foreskin” and ”Don’t Cut Chase’s Penis.”

The 4-year old has been the center of almost all disagreements (a lot of them) between his estranged parents, and this current wrinkle has fed the fodder of the cause some refer to as “intactivism.” Intactivists are those that are vigorously opposed to the practice of circumcision, considering it “barbaric” with healthy risks inadequately offset by possible benefits.

Circumcision is a relatively simple outpatient procedure in which the foreskin of the penis is removed, and in many cases the male is an infant or a child. The practice is common in some religions, and some have it done in the belief that it is more hygienic, to which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concurs. It is also necessary for some medical conditions. The CDC reports that in 2013 about 58% of all newborn males in the US were circumcised, but that there is a downward trend in the practice.

The parents had a previous agreement in which circumcision would be performed on the child, but the mother balked when the time came for the procedure to be performed, hence the legal battle. The courts have so far favored the father’s side, and no further filings have been made after the Court of Appeals refused to overturn the lower court’s ruling to let the circumcision be performed.

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Factors of Birth Defects

Birth defects can be caused by a number of factors, however, a small amount of these cases are due to third party errors. These third party errors, often caused by doctors or pharmaceutical companies, can be the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.  Medical malpractice lawsuits account to a small number of personal injury lawsuits filed in the United States. It is important to first determine whether the birth defect is caused by medical malpractice or negligence before filing an injury lawsuit. There are generally three causes of birth defects, namely 1) genetic, 2) environmental, and 3) unknown. In order to have a strong and valid medical malpractice lawsuit, you should first determine what caused the birth defect. After you’ve determined what caused it, you can contact The Jeff Sampson Law Firm

  1. Genetic causes can be due to a number of factors. First, the single gene defect, where a mutation of a single gene caused the birth defect. Some defective genes can be passed by one parent to the child, while there are instances where the defect will appear only if both parent suffer from the same single gene defect. Chromosomal defects are due to the structure or number of chromosomes and usually occur when something wrong happens during the development of the sperm or egg cell. Lastly, multifactorial defects occur through a combination of genetic and environmental and occur when the child inherits one or more defective gene and is then exposed to an environmental factor that could trigger the birth defect.
  2. Environmental causes of birth defects happen when the fetus (during the crucial developmental stage) is exposed to environmental substances or conditions that could trigger birth defects. The most common environmental factors are alcohol or drug use, infections and STDs, and chemicals or toxic materials.
  3. Unknown causes are those where there is still no medical explanation available yet. About 70 percent of birth defects are of unknown causes.

Legal liability for a birth defect can be established and set as basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit if the birth defect is linked to the mother being exposed to unreasonably dangerous prescription drugs without their knowing of the possible side effects to the babies. Insufficient warnings or blatantly hiding important side effect information would make the drug manufacturers liable for medical malpractice or product liability claims. Likewise, if the doctor performed inadequate prenatal care or made an error during the delivery of the baby that resulted to the birth defect, the doctor, nurses, or hospital can be held responsible for medical malpractice due to negligence.

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True Equality in Marriage: Same-Sex Divorce

shutterstock_219219871Recent data indicates that same-sex married couples are running to catch up with their heterosexual counterparts in terms of divorce rates. With more and more states allowing same-sex marriages, more couples are eligible for marriage it is not unexpected that more of them will also be divorcing. It’s just a matter of the numbers; it is not necessarily a reflection of same-sex relationships.

It is not surprising that marriage-equality advocates would keep this fact on a low profile; it may add fuel for the anti-gay marriage movement, justified or not. However, the trend is toward even higher percentages of same-sex divorce as those who have been partners for years finally get married, leaving the arena to the younger, more impulsive, and less committed.

Same-sex couples who have waited years and lobbied hard for having the privilege of legal status in marriage have presumable gone through the test of time together and tended to stay married more than their heterosexual peers. But that is not true for the more recently together, and while only one percent of gay marriages end in divorce every year (compared to 2% for heterosexual marriages), that is expected to even out in the coming years.

But divorce for same-sex couples are a lot more complicated than heterosexual marriages, mostly because current laws are still in a bit of a mess. The federal Defense of Marriage Act figures into the equation plus different states have different laws on same-sex divorce and disposition of taxes, inheritance, pensions, and other typical issues in divorce. It can take some time before there is true equality for gay couples, not only in marriage but also in divorce, at least in the legal sense. In the meantime, gay couples will have to muddle along as best as they can with the help of an experienced family law attorney.

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Night of the Wrongful Death

shutterstock_97542812Halloween 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

shutterstock_121866532It 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

shutterstock_129165905The 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

shutterstock_136871513The 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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