Lead Poisoning is Still a Threat

For today’s youth, lead poisoning is more so an idea than a reality. Most younger people understand what lead poisoning is, but cannot recognize its symptoms and do not realize they still run the risk of getting it.

Before 1978 when lead was banned, it was common in paint for homes, children’s toys, and furniture. That being said, many older houses often still have remnants of lead, especially if they are the houses of those that have not moved since around the time of the ban and have not changed out their furniture. Nowadays, lead soldered pipes run the risk of lead particles ending up in tap water. Also, even though lead soldered canned goods are illegal to make in the United States, they are not illegal to import.

Symptoms in adults include high blood pressure, memory loss, muscle and joint pains, reduced sperm count, constipation, headaches, sudden occurrence of mood disorders, miscarriage or premature birth, and diminishing mental function. Very high levels of lead exposure can result in death.

Certain hobbies and jobs increase one’s chance of getting lead poisoning. For example, any job that involves working with batteries can most likely guarantee exposure. Auto repair shops also usually contain a considerable amount of lead. Home renovators, especially those that renovate older homes should take certain safety precautions, such as wearing a mask, to minimize exposure. The Resmini Law website says that industrial plants and factories are the most common places for toxic exposure.

To minimize lead exposure, make sure you are washing your hands and any toys you may have as much as possible. In addition to keeping yourself clean, keep your house clean as well. The less dust that is in your home, the less likely you will be exposed to lead. When using tap water, run cold water for a minute, and never use hot water for cooking. The best offense is a good defense, so make sure you are eating healthy, because good nutrition aides in lower lead absorption.

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Nursing Home Abuse in Tennessee

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has rated Tennessee nursing homes among the best in the country in terms of overall performance, quality of medical care and nurse staffing. And yet still according to the CMS, Tennessee is also the state with some of the nursing homes with the highest fines levied for industry violations and for putting patients in harm’s way. So what is the true story?

Caring for the elderly is a difficult proposition, requiring exceptional patience and skill from the care giving staff. This is especially true with patients that suffer from mental disorders. This is one of the reasons why many nursing homes are severely understaffed or have staff members who are simply not competent enough to provide the care needed by residents.

In many cases, staff members simply neglect their charges, or worse, abuse them physically, emotionally, or verbally to keep them in line and make their work easier. Because nursing home residents are dependent on their caregivers, such incidents of neglect or abuse seldom get reported. This can take the form of poor hygiene, malnutrition, bed sores, forced confinement to quarters, pushing, shoving, yelling, and other forms of cruelty. The residents are often infirm and scared, so they take the abuse and even deny that it happens when asked. In the meantime, they become more sickly, less sociable, and withdrawn.

According to the website of Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A. long-term and persistent abuse or neglect can hasten the deterioration of a resident. It falls on family members and friends to nose out problems and to do something about it.

If you suspect that an elderly loved one is not getting the care they need in a nursing home, you need to take steps to protect them before it’s too late. Consult with a nursing home abuse lawyer in Tennessee to help you go about filing a case in a constructive and effective manner.

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Overview of New York Gun Laws

There has been aggressive lobbying to loosen up New York’s gun laws which are considered one of the most restrictive in the US. This is based on the state courts’ position that the “right to bear arms” does not necessarily refer to a private individual’s right but to organized state militia. Any person is subject to gun possession law while in the jurisdiction of the state of New York. These laws are primarily embodied in Article 265 and 400 of New York Penal Law.

Article 265 refers to provisions for firearms and other dangerous weapons while Article 400 refers to firearm and weapon licensing. Handguns are generally banned expect in some exemptions such as sports use, and requires a license. Article 265 is not restricted to firearms, but may also refer to some types of knives, shuriken, clubs, explosives, stun guns, and so on. Semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine or shotguns with one or more of the following features are banned state-wide:

  • Bayonet lug
  • Flash suppressor
  • Grenade launcher
  • Pistol grip
  • Telescoping or folding
  • Threaded barrel
  • Muzzle break (until December 2014)
  • Muzzle compensator
  • Thumbhole stock
  • Foregrip

As pointed out at www.portalelaw.com, it would be taking a risk to go to New York with a weapon without knowing the applicable laws, especially as enforcement of these state laws may vary depending on the area, which can make it confusing for most people and lead to unfortunate incidents. For example, New York rural areas will only make an arrest if there is demonstrable malicious intent. In many such charges, the defendant must put up an affirmative defense, which means that possession is not contested but that there was no malicious intent. This is not a valid defense in certain areas such as New York City where merely possessing a firearm illegally is a crime.

If you have been charged with illegal gun or weapons possession, you could be facing some serious criminal sanctions. Consult with an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer to make sure that your rights are protected and your legal options thoroughly explored.

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Death by Intoxication in Texas

It really does not pay to drink and drive in Texas, even if you are the daughter of a state judge. A 2007 incident involving the intoxicated college student in an SUV and the rear end of a large box truck ended in the death of the girl’s 19-year-old boyfriend. According to Texas law, she was charged with intoxication manslaughter when her blood alcohol level revealed she was considerably over the legal limit at the time of the crash. The 7-day trial ended in a conviction that satisfied the victim’s family and the letter of the law.

Texas is the only state that identifies a homicide caused by an inebriated or impaired driver as an independent offense and it is called intoxication manslaughter, although other states do have similar laws that apply to that type of situation. Some call it vehicular manslaughter, others DUI manslaughter, and still others use related terms.

Manslaughter is one of two types of criminal homicide, in which the other is murder. Not all homicides (where one person causes the death of another person) are criminal i.e. self-defense, but all cases of manslaughter and murder are. Any criminal defense attorney in Dallas will explain that manslaughter is considered the lesser crime because of the absence of malice, forethought, or intent to kill, and can get off on probation depending on the circumstances with the right representation.

A charge of intoxication manslaughter is applicable when the driver is legally drunk or otherwise intoxicated as evidenced by blood tests even if there is no apparent impairment and causes the death (immediate or eventual from injuries sustained) of a passenger, occupants of other vehicles, or a pedestrian. Intoxication must be voluntary, which means that the defendant knowingly used an intoxicant before operating a vehicle. Such a charge may also be applied for cases with similar results when an intoxicated person operates a boat, airplane, or amusement ride.

Intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony. The mandatory minimum is four months in prison which can be deferred to a more convenient time as what happened in the above case, 240 hours of community service, and 10 years probation plus a fine of up to $10,000. The maximum prison sentence for a conviction of intoxication manslaughter is 20 years.

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Real Estate Litigation – Wrongful Foreclosure

Between 2009 and 2010, about 1.2 million homeowners lost their homes due to foreclosure by 11 top financial institutions. The big problem, however, was that many of these homeowners were not even delayed in their mortgage payment or (even had there been actual problems in payment) they had just been approved by the bank either for a temporary delay in mortgage payments or for a restructuring of payment, or that their property was under the protection of federal laws.

Studies and litigations show that majority of the foreclosures made during the height of the housing crisis in the US were not even due to homeowners defaulting in their loan obligations; these were rather due to errors made by banks or due to practices (which greatly favor banks and other creditors) that are now considered illegal. While banks and creditors naturally deny any wrongdoing, one fact is real – that wrongful foreclosures are not real; these are widespread too.

Some of the most commonly identified causes of wrongful foreclosure include:

  • Miscommunication and processing errors. Despite not being behind on their mortgage, many homeowners have faced foreclosure due to lack of proper communication between banks and other creditors, title insurers, foreclosure law firms, and servicers (also called mortgage servicers. These are usually composed of the biggest banks in the US which collect mortgage payments and foreclose properties with delinquent payments).
  • Incorrect instructions from banks or servicers. This usually happens to homeowners who are current on their mortgage but wish to apply for a loan modification. To qualify for loan modification they are told to fall behind on their mortgage, but only to find that afterwards that the bank has foreclosed on their property – due to delinquency in payment.
  • Additional fees. Many homeowners end up failing to make late payments on their mortgage due to the so many added fees, like late fee, attorney’s fee, inspection fee, broker-price opinion, and others. Many legal experts agree that these fees are major contributory factors to a great number of foreclosures.
  • Dual track on loan modification processing and foreclosure resulting in mistaken foreclosures. Loan modification and foreclosure are usually processed in separate divisions of a bank; thus, while a homeowner may be awaiting the result of his/her application for loan modification, his/her property might be foreclosed without fully understanding what actually went wrong.

Losing one’s home because of foreclosure can usher in a lot of pain for any hardworking individual, especially if such is due to an error committed by someone else. Proving this is pretty hard, though, as real estate laws can be too complicated for a homeowner. Despite missing payments on mortgage, the law offers various means for the property owner to retain his/her property, thus no bank or creditor can simply foreclose on it.

The Dallas real estate litigation lawyers are among the most qualified legal professionals always armed with very strong arguments in defense of the homeowner’s rights. Entrusting your legal battle (against your creditor) to someone else may cast you in a position where you could lose everything you have worked for so hard.

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The Harsh Consequences of Cocaine Use

Cocaine, a highly-addictive and powerful stimulant, is categorized by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of the United States as a Schedule II drug, that is, an illegal substance that has the tendency to be abused; doctors, however, can administer it to patients for medical purposes.

Being charged with a drug-related crime, especially cocaine, means huge fines and time in jail, both of which would be increased if the crime would involve injury or death. For first offenders, mere possession of the drug in any amount can result in one year behind bars and a minimum fine of $1,000, according to the United States Code (USC) of Controlled Substances Act.

The Nashville criminal defense lawyers of Horst Law, as well as the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, explain on their websites how drug crimes are aggressively prosecuted in the US, so as to discourage anyone thinking of getting involved in drug-related activities. Both law offices also point out how a drug crime charge can have a devastating effect in the lives of those caught, regardless of the purpose of involvement in it.

Drug- related crimes include manufacturing, possession, distribution, selling, or use of prohibited drugs and drug paraphernalia. Cocaine, specifically, which is consumed most in the US, is used as a stimulant to keep workers awake for increased productivity during longer working or to keep party goers active all throughout the night. However, despite having no real intent to abuse the drug or use it to harm anyone, if caught in possession of it, absence of ill intent will never save the offender from the harsh punishments. And often the first offenders and those who simply use cocaine as stimulants, individuals who actually never understand the law on illegal drugs, are the ones caught.

Being convicted of a drug offense can very well destroy one’s future, thus, a person being charged of this type of crime would absolutely need the greatest defense that only a well-informed and highly-competent lawyer can provide. Criminal defense lawyers from Mark T. Lassiter’s or Daniel Jensen’s law offices are the most commendable legal counsels for the job due to their extensive experience on criminal law and capability to competently defend any person accused.

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Construction Accidents and OSHA’s I2P2

Making laws to significantly reduce the number of workplace accidents and fatalities is one thing; enforcing and observing these is another. Thus, despite the passing into law of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) in 1970 and the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1971, OSH Act’s offshoot, workplace accidents, especially in construction sites, still remained quite high.

OSHA definitely had a major effect in the reduction of workplace accidents (about 60% compared to the number before it was created), but it appeared it was not enough since there were still employers and employees who either reluctantly observed its stipulations or were too stubborn to implement it in their respective companies, resulting to 4,500 fatalities and 4.1 million serious injuries every year for the past couple of years.

In the construction industry, 849 lives were lost in 2012 plus a preliminary count of 824 for the year 2013. The major causes of accidents, according to OSHA, are the “Fatal Four,” or top four, which include falls (falling from a high place), electrocution, getting caught between objects (like two heavy equipment), and being struck. Based on this OSHA data, the law firm of Hach & Rose, LLP, cites in an article (posted on its website) the big responsibility of manufacturers of machinery, general contractors and property owners, in making sure that all construction equipment and construction sites are safe from anything that can cause or contribute to causes of accidents.

OSHA’s dedication to ensuring safety in the workplace and health of workers led to the introduction of the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP or I2P2), which OSHA began requiring on employers in 2010. I2P2 is a simple, practical way of helping employers locate all possible workplace hazards and fix these before workers get hurt. The program includes management leadership, participation of workers, identification of hazards, hazard control and prevention, education and training, and evaluation and further improvement of the program. Employers who have implemented the program in their respective workplaces were unanimous in affirming the many positive results of the program, such as a dramatic drop in the number of workplace injuries, improvement in the quality of work, increase in productivity, higher level of worker satisfaction, and so forth.

In construction sites where accidents continue to happen due to employers still ignoring the stipulations of OSHA or because of very poor management style, workers sustaining any kind of injury may be eligible to apply for the Workers’ compensation benefit and may have the right to file a lawsuit against their respective employer if it can be proven that the accident was due to the employer’s direct act of negligence. Along this thought, it, therefore, becomes quite necessary for the injured worker to seek immediate assistance from a qualified Oklahoma personal injury lawyer to know and learn about the possible legal options he/she has. Furthermore, he/she will definitely need a strong argument and the best fight for his/her rights and interests, according to the website of the personal injury lawyers at the Abel Law Firm.

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Divorce – Mediation

Take away the complexity of the divorce process, what remains can be an emotional and demoralizing experience heard and decided by a judge in a court where anyone can sit in to witness the whole procedure. But besides the divorce process itself, there are also the many other issues, such as spousal support, division of assets, properties and debts, and child custody, child support and visitation rights, which can be equally stressing, especially if one spouse would try to prove that the other is an unfit parent to the child.

It cannot be argued that it would require court hearings in order to settle some divorce cases, specifically those wherein divorcing couple could not agree and choose not to give in to each other’s demands or wishes. Once a divorce case is filed in a court, however, couples should know that when a judge makes his/her decision, such is final, whether or not any of the spouses finds it agreeable (a court decision may be changed by a judge, though, after the party requesting for a change is able to present new evidences that will substantiate his/her claim. One example is a request for an increase in the amount of child support due to a promotion, and a considerable increase in the salary, of the obligor or non-custodial parent).

There are divorcing couples, though, who choose to maintain the privacy of their marital problems and prefer to make their own decisions on all matters that they need to settle. Towards this means of settling divorce the BB Law Group PLLC, explains in its website the (now popular) process called mediated divorce and why spouses should opt for it instead.

In mediated divorce the spouses may still choose to be represented by their respective lawyers. There is a need, however, for a mediator (chosen by the spouses themselves), who will guide the spouses through all issues. Though offering his or her opinion at times may be done by the mediator, he/she can never impose anything on the divorcing couple.

Mediation is designed to allow couples arrive at decisions that would be most agreeable to them in all the issues that they need to settle. And, not only are the spouses encouraged to settle everything amicably, but the whole process becomes less painful and stressful for them too. Mediation, likewise, reduces cost (since it may last only hours unlike a court proceeding, which can take weeks or months), ensures confidentiality (as everything that transpires is made and known only by the spouses and the mediator; there are no spectators, unlike in a court setting), and guarantees compliance of the spouses (since the decisions were products of mutual consent).

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Injuries Caused by Defective and/or Dangerous Products

Manufacturers are bound by law to always make sure that every product they produce is safe, that the product’s label correctly and accurately names the product’s ingredients, and that all necessary instructions and/or warnings that consumers have the right to know are mentioned. Making a fraudulent claim on what a product can do would be deception, an act that can result to a lawsuit, especially if the product ends up harming someone or fails to provide its claimed results.

The task of enforcing standard safety laws on the manufacture of good and ensuring that manufacturers observe these laws falls on the shoulders of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Besides these, the Bureau also has the duty to:

  • Make sure that products are neither defective nor dangerous
  • Stop unjust, fraudulent and deceptive business practices
  • Accept and investigate consumer complaints on product defects
  • File a lawsuit against individuals or companies found violating consumer rights or offering defective and/or dangerous products
  • Make sure that product labels are correct and accurate and not deceptive or misleading
  • Create and implement fair marketplace rules
  • Educate individuals of their rights as consumers, and firms of their duties and responsibilities

Despite the laws, though, many consumers still never get what they actually pay for and, worse, some products even cause injuries or death. The Benton Law Firm informs consumers that dangerous and/or defective products can take the form of simple toys for children or a complex motor vehicle and, between these two, the endless supply of food, electronic devices, power supply items, tools, (and so forth) for which manufacturers, designers of product and marketers can be held liable.

This is why thousands of product liability lawsuits continue to be filed and heard in different courts all across the US, many of which leading to court rulings in favor of consumers. The Ausband & Dumont Law Firm explains that injured consumers should never hesitate taking a legal action against erring participants (in the manufacture and distribution of dangerous products) for the compensation that they may be entitled to receive due to the injury the product has caused in them.

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Workplace Situations that Led to the Establishment of the Workers’ Comp

The need to establish a source of financial benefits for workers who got injured on the job or who developed a job-related illness became a major concern for the government during the early part of the 20th century, the time when industrial and construction workers became so much in demand due to the booming economy in the US. The one main drawback, though, that shrouded the industry’s growth then was the frequency of accidents that often resulted to the death and/or severe injuries of young and inexperienced workers, who received no proper job training before being required to use/operate or work in the midst of harmful dusts, hazardous chemicals, dangerous machines, and a messy heap of pulleys, belts and gears.

In connection to the accidents, an article titled, “Making Steel and Killing Men,” wherein journalist William B. Hard muckraked about the very high casualty of workers, was published in Everybody’s Magazine in 1907. In his article, Hard estimated that about 1,200 workers, from a work force of 10,000, were either seriously injured or killed every year.

An equally major concern, this time on the part of the injured workers, was how to cope with the necessities of daily living since being out of work meant having no pay; and besides the food on the table, they also either had to spend for medical treatment and medicine or suffer a longer time in bed. For the needed financial help, sustaining a job-related injury was usually followed by a lawsuit against the employer – a lawsuit, however, which the worker also usually lost.

It was due to this second major concern that the Workers’ Compensation law was established in 1908; its main purpose was to address the financial burden suffered by injured workers by providing them with fast financial assistance.

Workers’ Comp was an insurance benefit program designed to cover lost wages (due to absence from work), cost of medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and death (if the injury or the illness leads to it). The benefit is guaranteed to authentic applicants (workers faking injuries for fraudulent claims have been made in the past), regardless of fault/who caused the accident. Thus, even if the accident were due to the injured worker’s own carelessness or negligence, he/she will still be entitled to receive the benefit in its full amount – the same case even if the company were facing possible bankruptcy since this benefit is not dependent on the company’s or employer’s financial capability.

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