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Military Divorce 101

Members of our military are no strangers to complicated processes. Normal, everyday processes like buying a home or filing taxes as a service member are far more complicated than the process for ordinary civilians.

Based on this trend, you would rightfully not be surprised to find out that the process for military divorces is more complicated than normal divorce proceedings. If you or a loved one is going through a military divorce or are considering getting one, keep reading to learn more about what you should be expecting.

Where to File for Divorce

One factor making military divorces more complicated than civilian divorces is the wide variety of places available for the person initiating the divorce to file. If you are a military member or filing for divorce from a member of the military, you have the following options of places in which to file:

  • To file where the civilian individual lives
  • To file where the military member is stationed
  • To file where the military member is listed as residing

It is important to understand these options and choose the one that works the best for you and your situation if you are the one who is planning on filing for divorce.

The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act provides protections to service members who are facing civil suits while serving in the military. As you can imagine, responding to a suit can become complicated when one is deployed or busy with military obligations. Usually, individuals served with divorce papers have a certain time period in which they must respond to the summons.

However, the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act recognizes that it is often difficult for service members to respond and provides protections to military members in the event of a divorce filing.

If the service member is able to show that they are unable to attend court hearings or other divorce proceedings due to their service obligations, a postponement of a civil proceeding may be granted to the service member in question. In addition, there are certain protections for default judgments if the service member fails to respond to the suit or appear in court.

It is important to have a firm understanding of your protections under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act if you are a service member whose partner has initiated a divorce suit against you.
Filing for Divorce or Responding to a Divorce Suit

If you are considering filing for divorce or are needing to respond to a divorce lawsuit, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. If you are a service member or are filing for divorce from a service member, contact a law firm with knowledge of the military divorce process like the Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq.

An attorney is the person most qualified to give you advice on where to file for divorce as well as to advise you of your or your partner’s rights under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.

Whistleblower Claims Supporting the Government?

I used to be really interested in whistleblower claims against governments: I thought it was fascinating that a few individual citizens could upend entire political contexts by revealing sensitive information. I felt like it was the closest a person can get to a spy or thriller movie, on the run from the government with a flash drive in hand.

However, I realized a little while ago that these situations are pretty rare. More common, however, is a similar situation: whistleblower claims against private companies for fraud committed against the government. As the website for the law firm ChasenBoscolo explains, there is a new and expanding opportunity in the legal world for lawyers to represent people with claims that their private employer was committing abuse or defrauding the government in a contract or deal.

I already knew there were a lot of public-private partnerships wherein private contractors will work to fulfill a public need, being paid in the deal by taxpayers’ dollars. However, there is a lot of room for fraud or abuse. If you see something worthy to blow the whistle on and expose, you will likely need legal representation. Firms like ChasenBoscolo have experience in representing those with whistleblower claims against private companies defrauding the government.

Some of the methods that private companies employ are complex, others are simple. No matter what, taxpayers (i.e. every single American) loses by having their government be defrauded.

One of the most common methods used by private companies is to simply cut corners. Contracts or deals with private-public partnerships are often saddled with onerous regulations or rules meant to protect consumers or prevent defective products or infrastructure. By cutting corners, private companies will not comply with requirements — lying or covering up inadequate compliance.

Another method used by private companies to abuse government dollars is to inflate costs in the operating budgets for a project or product. To explain: because the private company is often the actor in a deal charged with executing or manufacturing something, the government will get a bill upon completion for its costs.

The federal government of the United States is a reliable financier, and will almost certainly pay for the costs of a product or project, even if it goes over-budget. As a result, private companies can overestimate or simply lie about the cost of their partnership’s products or projects. Whistleblowers can see the lying or cover-up through financial documents or expressions by people in charge of the project. They can then respond by exposing this fraud and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently and appropriately.

Another simple way that governments can be defrauded by private companies is simply avoiding taxes. This is self-explanatory: sometimes, private companies do not pay the correct amount of taxes by either falsely reporting expenditures or incorrectly stating revenue. This can be remedied, however, by whistleblowers. Most commonly, however, the fraud is discovered by an audit or another agency more directly associated with taxation.

Wrongful Death Cases Can Provide Justice When the Justice System Can’t...

Acts of violence happen all around us. We accept that because we have to. But most of us try to get by with the assumption that when a violent act happens, particularly when it leads to someone’s death, the justice system will step in to make sure the person responsible gets the appropriate punishment.

That is how the justice system is supposed to work, but it only succeeds sometimes. There are many reasons why someone who has directly caused the wrongful death of another might not receive the appropriate punishment from the justice system. To begin with, American justice is built upon the assumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, meaning there has to be a lot of conclusive evidence put forward to prove that person is guilty. Things can go wrong in a trial. The prosecutor can get the legal strategy wrong. The jury can be swayed by an emotional appeal. The evidence may just not be there to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the person accused of committing the crime really committed the crime.

The horror of not just losing a loved one but also seeing justice fail to hold the right people accountable is almost unthinkable. Thankfully, there is another way to get justice: a wrongful death suit. As Glover Law Firm points out, this civil case is distinct from the criminal case. Regardless of the results of the criminal case, the civil wrongful death case can go forward and may find more success. A famous example of this is OJ Simpson being found not guilty in the criminal trial, but being forced to pay $25 million in damages after being found “liable” in the civil trial.

There are several major benefits to pursuing a wrongful death civil case. Perhaps most importantly for the family of the lost loved one, a civil case has a lower standard of evidence. Where there is no room for doubt in a criminal case, a civil case just has to prove it is more likely to be true than not. Many wrongful deaths from violence can be proved to this standard, even when they can’t be proven in a criminal court. Further, while a civil case cannot lead to imprisonment, it can lead to significant financial penalties against the accused, and those penalties all go to the grieving family.

This kind of justice isn’t completely ideal in some ways. Ideally, of course, the family would see the person whose violent behavior took their loved one convicted first in criminal court and then in civil court. That is justice working perfectly. However, we have to remember that there are avenues to pursue if justice seems waylaid in the criminal court. There’s still a lot a family can do to get some sense of justice and closure after their tragic loss.

I hope this information is useful to those who are going to through that nightmare we all hope never occurs to us. Knowing your legal options can help make sure you aren’t forced to feel cheated out of justice while experiencing such a serious loss.

My friend’s story

Let me tell you a story. My friend is crashing on my couch indefinitely because she lost her job after she was unable to come in anymore. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like much of a story on the face of it, but it’s a little more sinister than that.

She couldn’t come into work anymore because she’d become sick. She became sick because of the fumes in her office. And only her office.

This is what happened. My friend worked for a local business, which will remain anonymous for now because, as I’ll explain in a bit, she’s considering a lawsuit. She had her own office, and next to her office there was construction going on. The build her boss had moved the business into was only about three-quarters complete, and beyond her wall, there was work still going on. I don’t exactly know what they were doing, only that it was pretty loud, and far far worse, that it smelled.

My friend complained to her boss, but this boss of hers had only bought just enough space for the company office, and there was nowhere else to put her. She asked to switch with someone else, no one was interested. She asked if she could use the conference room, but no, that’s where they were going to have clients, and they couldn’t put clients in the loud, smelly office in the back. So, he told her, she’d just have to deal with it. Hopefully, they’d finish the work soon.
The work went on, she went back to her office like a champ and worked through the first week. She worked halfway through the second week, complained again, received an assurance her boss would look into it (though there’s no evidence he ever did), and then she went back to work again.

By then, she was starting to get headaches. By the third week, her eyes started getting blurry while she was in the room. Finally, she asked to go home early, get to her place, threw up, and passed out. When she woke up, she went to the emergency room and was there for a couple of days. They said she’d been poisoned by something. They ran tests, and it looks like it was the stuff from the other office.

Now, here’s the worst part. When she told her boss, he told her that it must have been something else that caused her problem. He accused her of all sorts of things, from embellishing to doing drugs, and said that since she didn’t pass out at work, she wasn’t entitled to workman’s comp. Then, he said if she couldn’t come in soon, he has to find a replacement.

Which brings us to now, and my friend living on my couch. She’s in contact with a lawyer about all of this, and it looks like she has a solid case. The last I heard, someone else in the office started feeling sick as well. I just hope she can sue this boss of hers for all he’s worth. Someone like that doesn’t deserve to have a business.

No Financial Gain can Undo or Erase a Family’s Traumatic Loss and Experience...

A wrongful death claim is the lawsuit that may be filed by the family members of a person who dies as a result of someone else’s negligent act or wrongdoing. Its main purpose is to seek compensation for the losses or damages suffered, and to be suffered, by the family of the deceased, such as medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost companionship and lost (future) wages.

Damages can be classified under three categories: economic, non-economic and punitive. States, however, differ when it comes to the specific items found in each category.

Economic damages does not only include all the expenses incurred by the family as a result of the death of their loved one but, also all the financial contributions that the deceased would have been able to give to his/her family had he/she not died. The damages covered under this category include: cost of medical treatment and funeral service; financial value of all the goods and services that the deceased would have provided for his/her family; loss of the victim’s wages and other earnings; loss of possible inheritance; and, loss of possible medical coverage for family members, and the deceased’s pension plan and other benefits.

Non-economic damages are the non-material losses that the family of the deceased would suffer, such as: the family’s loss of love and companionship from the deceased; loss of care, guidance, protection and nurturing from the deceased; a spouse’s loss of consortium with his/her deceased spouse; and, the family’s suffering, pain and mental anguish.

The third category, punitive damages, actually serves as punishment to make the party at fault realize his/her wrong act as well as to deter him/her from committing the same mistake. While some states award compensatory damages with punitive damages, many others do not even make available these damages in wrongful death lawsuits. This absence, however, is usually off-set by the awarding of treble damages (or triple damages) which increases the amount of actual damages to three times; awarding of treble damages is made at the discretion of the court, which bases its judgment on legally acceptable reasons.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), negligent acts that cause wrongful death can be committed by anyone. It can be a manufacturer who produces a low quality construction ladder that causes a worker to suffer a fatal fall; a car driven by a distracted driver who hits and kills a pedestrian; a doctor who prescribes a drug that increases the risk of heart attack, and so forth.

According to the law firm Williams Kherkher, if an accident claims the life of a loved one, families are suddenly faced with traumatic changes in their lives. They are forced to cope with their loved one’s passing and come to terms with their loss, while at the same time they may wish for some way to seek justice against the party whose negligent behavior caused the accident. Families searching for some sense of closure may choose to pursue legal action against the negligent party to help them better deal with their loss.

A wrongful death lawyer understands the extreme difficulty of you seeking legal assistance while deep in mourning for your loss. However, he/she also understands the importance of filing a case quickly in order to help your family seek the assistance you need to pay for medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost income, as well as compensation for loss of companionship.

Along this same line of thought, the firm Amerio Law believes that no financial gain can undo or erase a family’s traumatic loss and experience. However, legal action can certainly help relieve financial burdens and hopefully help the affected family obtain the justice and closure it deserves.

 

U.S. Laws on the use of Cellular Phone while Driving...

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council (NSC), 2015 may has been the deadliest driving year for Americans since 2008 due to the rise in motor vehicle deaths. About 38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads, while 4.4 million were seriously injured (road fatality in 2014 was 32,675).

This dramatic increase in the number of cars on the road is attributed to gas prices going down. With more cars on the road, incidences of alcohol-impaired driving, speeding, people failing to buckle up, and instances of distracted driving also increased.

Distracted driving refers to any form of activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. The introduction of cell phones and now, the expansion of smartphone functions and wider use of social media platforms, have further worsened distractions behind the wheel. Though these are clear threats to road safety, these, nonetheless make cell phone use appear more fun and exciting. Many drivers today, especially teens and young adult drivers, not only read, send and/or reply to texts while driving; they now also send emails, snap selfies, conduct video chats, shoot videos, and use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat; some even watch YouTube videos while driving, practically believing that they can drive and do anything else safely.

Below is the cellular phone use and texting while driving laws in the U.S. (from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) (http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/cellular-phone-use-and-texting-while-driving-laws.aspx):

Hand-held Cell Phone Use Ban: 14 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.

  • All Cell Phone ban: No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but 37 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice or teen drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit any cell phone use for school bus drivers.
  • Text Messaging ban: 46 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers.

Despite the bans on texting and cellphone use while driving, so many drivers refuse to be dissuaded from texting and using their cell phone while behind the wheel. A distraction while driving at fast speed, even a momentary one, may cause a driver to:

  • Drift out of the proper lane and into the path of an oncoming car traveling in the opposite direction
  • Fail to signal lane changes or turns
  • Change lanes without checking blind spots
  • Turn the wrong way onto a one way street
  • Enter a highway ramp in the wrong direction
  • Disregard a traffic signal
  • Fail to notice a bicyclist or pedestrian on or near the road

Deaths and injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes are simply unacceptable. Most car accidents are preventable with responsible, diligent, and focused driving. By doing away with reckless, dangerous, and negligent driving behaviors, lives can be saved and injuries prevented. One way to accomplish this is by holding irresponsible drivers accountable for their actions and making them compensate those that they hurt in a car accident.

Traffic Violations and Ticket Penalties

Traffic Violations and Ticket Penalties

Traffic laws are not there to oppress you, but to control and limit your action to ensure that the roads are safe not just for you, but also for the others around you. Violations of traffic laws can lead to traffic accidents, property damages, injuries, and even death, that is why authorities make sure that these laws are strictly followed. Violating traffic laws can result into citations, but you can fight a traffic ticket if it seems unreasonable, maybe because of misunderstandings or exaggerations.

Violations may be classified into two – moving and non-moving.

Moving Violations

Moving violations are violations that involve vehicles in motion. The most common forms of moving violations include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving without a seat belt, driving below the minimum speed, running through a red light or stop sign, reckless driving, and speeding.

Non-Moving Violations

Non-moving violations refer to violations that do not concern the movement of the vehicle. The most common forms of non-moving violations include driving with an invalid vehicle registration, having excessive muffler noise, having an expired or missing license plate, parking in front of a fire hydrant, in a no-park zone, and other illegal areas.

Ticket Penalties

Aside from the fines you need to pay and the educational courses you need to take, traffic tickets can have more devastating consequences, depending on the gravity of your violation.

License Suspension – The Department of Motor Vehicles, or more commonly known as DMV, can suspend your license, taking away your privilege to drive for a certain period of time. Once that time has been completed, you can apply for a license reinstatement by getting the necessary restoration requirements and taking written and driving tests.

License Revocation – DMV also has the ability to take away your driving license. Once this has happened, you need to fully apply for a license again, as if it is your first time applying to it.

Aside from suspension and revocation, your license can also be cancelled. According to the website of Ali Mokaram, license cancellations are more commonly issued on those who have eligibility issues instead of traffic violations.

Questioning violations and ticket penalties is a good thing, but it is always better to drive safely, follow traffic rules, park on designated parking areas, and make sure that you have the necessary documents and other legal forms that concern driving.

Burn Injuries: Classification and Degrees

According to the Hankey Law Office, approximately 2.4 million burn injuries are reported each year in the United States. Burns are one of the most painful and damaging injuries an individual can experience, as they not only cause intense physical pain for extended periods of time, but can also result in permanent disfigurement or disability.

Most burn injuries are due to accident occurring in the home more than anywhere else. Records from the National Burn Repository (NBR) of the American Burn Association (ABA) show that 73% of all burn accidents in the U.S. are actually household-related and that the most common victims are children and senior citizens.

Burns are classified according to their causes. Thus, based on cause, a burn can be a/an:

  • Thermal or heat burn injury. This is caused by coming in contact with heated objects, such as boiling water, hot tap water, hot grease/oil, steam, hot food, hot drink, fire, firework, curling irons and flammable liquids.
  • Chemical burn injury. Chemical burns occur when the skin or eyes come into contact with an irritant such as a strong acid, a base or other irritants. The most common products that cause chemical burns are pool chemicals, car battery acid, drain cleaners, ammonia, cleaning products, bleach and teeth whitening products. Chemical burns, which can cause a reaction on the skin or in your body, are also known as caustic burns.
  • Electrical burn injury. Electrical burn is the result of electricity passing through the body and causing rapid injury (or damage to tissues and organs). About 1,000 electrical injures resulting in death are reported in the U.S. every year. Electrical burns can be caused by power lines, short-circuiting devices, lightning and other kinds of electrical objects.
  • Radiation burn injury. This refers to damage to the skin or tissues due to radiation exposure. Sunburn, which is caused by UV radiation, is the common type of radiation burn; the dangerous types, however, are those caused by nuclear radiation, radio frequency energy, thermal radiation and ionizing radiation.

The degree of burn injury a person is suffering from is determined by severity of skin and tissue damage. If only the skin’s outer layer is affected, it is called first-degree or minor burn. A burn injury, wherein the layer beneath the skin is affected, is called second-degree burn. It causes the most unbearable pain (compared to other burn degrees) because it directly affects the nerves.

Some medical professionals say that third-degree burn is the worst type of burn injury because it damages the skin’s three layers: the epidermis, or the skin’s top layer; the dermis; and, the subcutaneous fat, which attaches the dermis to the muscles and bones and the area where blood vessels and nerve cells get bigger and go to the other parts of the body. Others, however, say that the worst type of burn injury is a fourth degree burn as this affects the muscles and bones.

There are occasions when a fire accident is a result of a property owner failing to adhere to fire safety regulations or a manufacturer producing a defective tanning bed. If a burn injury is a result of someone’s act of carelessness or negligence, then the victim can pursue a legal action to bring the liable party to justice and to seek compensation for the damages he/she has been made to suffer.

Available Damages In An Industrial Accident

If you are working in an industrial site, you are at a great risk of getting injured. And while it is the job of your employer to ensure the safety of working conditions, accidents and injuries can still find their way in the workplace. According to the website of Spiros Champaign Law Firm, it is the job of your employer to adhere to safety standards.

The good news is that you can seek compensation for the injuries you have incurred. Workplace accidents are associated with a lot of bills and lost time at work. Since you may spend a long time out of work, getting injured may become of a financial burden to you. Here is a list of the available damages that you can claim in an industrial accident:

Treatment Costs

If the injury resulted to medical treatment, you can seek to recover for the cost of hospital bills. Aside from the compensation you lost due to missed work, The amount of damages may also include the cost of future treatment.

Pain and Suffering

The court may also award compensation for pain and suffering for the injuries you incurred during the accident. While we cannot put a value on pain and suffering, the cost of damages will help alleviate the pain caused by getting injured.

Emotional Distress

Although it is designed to help alleviate discomfort after the accident, there is a difference between pain and suffering and emotional distress as damages. The former need not be proven in court while the latter still requires some proof. The injured has to prove that their injury has caused emotional stress to them. The plaintiff has to show psychiatric records as evidence.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are paid not to assist the injured but to punish the defendant. This is true especially when the defendant knew something would happen but continued despite their knowledge. However, not all states award punitive damages.

Pedestrian Accidents

The Royal Oak Police Department in Michigan has reported that a 26-year-old Florida resident has lost his life after an accident at around 12:50 a.m. on Saturday, February 27 when he was hit by a Canadian National Railway train near the intersection of S. Main Street and Sixth Street.

The victim was brought to William Beaumont Hospital – where he later succumbed to his mortal injuries – by the Royal Oak Fire Department.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most pedestrian accidents occur between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. as there are more vehicles and people using the roads due to their performance of day-to-day activities such as going to place of work or school. These accidents mostly involve injuries, as there is more probabilities that the drivers who hit a passer-by is distracted, but more or less in control of his or her motor functions.

The transportation agency stated, on the other hand, that pedestrian fatalities usually occur at night, because such accidents are usually caused by factors such as drunken drivers, drunken pedestrians, or poor visibility, which could all lead to mortal injuries for the pedestrian involved.

According to the website of Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller, & Overbeck, P.A., the major contributing factor to the rise of pedestrian accidents in the United States is the tendency of pedestrians to jaywalk, a tendency which usually occurs in urban cities. This is because police officers tend to not be that stringent when it comes to enforcing policies regarding jaywalking. Aside from it being a low-priority concern for law enforcement, jaywalking is also considered low in the priority of lawmakers in each state – they tend not to enact more stringent rules to violators of said offense.

Pedestrians also do not see familiar routes as particularly a source of potential danger, so they let their guard down when crossing familiar streets, as compared with pedestrians who have been involved in or have witnessed car accidents, who are more likely to cross with more care in crosswalks.