Spinal Cord Injury: A Very Costly Paralyzing injury

Oct 18, 2013 by

Every year, about 12,000 individuals are added to the more than 200,000 already suffering from spinal cord injuries (SCI). A spinal injury can result from either a non-traumatic or traumatic experience. While a non-traumatic experience can include infections, arthritis, cancer and other illnesses, disc collapse and inflammation of the spine, a traumatic one is a result of a sudden, forceful blow that can crush, fracture or dislocate any region/s of the vertebral column.

Spinal injuries can be caused by a gunshot, a hard fall or bump (with excessive force) during sport activities, a case of a slip and fall accident, of a motor vehicle crash. Due to the activities that usually lead to spinal injuries, the most common victims are, therefore, young males, especially those 16 to 30 years in age.

A spinal injury, whether it is partial (Paraplegia) or total (Quadriplegia) paralysis, can change a victim’s life forever. Not only will it require additional costly medical costs, but this paralyzing injury may also force you to make major changes in your work, activities, schedule – in all aspects of your life, actually.

Partial paralysis or Paraplegia, in particular can result to sexual side effects, extensive nerve damage, loss of fertility, loss of function and feeling of extremity and loss of bladder and bowel control. Almost half of all the cases of spinal injuries are partial paralyses, which may also be a result of medical malpractice, aside from car accidents and slip and fall.

A spinal injury is actually a result of damage or harm to the spinal cord or spinal/vertebral column since this damage will render the brain unable to send signals to different parts of the body. The brain and the spinal cord form the Central Nervous System, which is composed of nerve segments that are protected by the spinal column / vertebral column (simply called backbone or spine). To cushion and protect the spinal cord’s delicate nerve tissues, the Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) encircles them, keeping them undamaged despite impact; but protection is only possible if the impact is not extremely forceful.

It is more possible than not, that if anyone is suffering from a spinal injury, that injury was sustained due to someone else’s negligent or reckless acts, rendering it a personal injury. Under the law, victims of personal injury ought to be compensated by the person, firm (or whatever entity) that caused such injury.

If you are suffering from a spinal injury due to someone else’s negligence, by sure to contact a spinal cord injury attorney as soon as possible. You shouldn’t be subjected to pain and suffering unnecessarily and without just compensation for your injuries.

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States Most Likely to Legalize Marijuana

Sep 3, 2013 by

With some states already framing how marijuana will be regulated and taxed for adult consumption, it is just a matter of time before other states follow suit.

Colorado and Washington are now on the brink of legalizing marijuana as the Attorney General has given a nod to the states’ initiatives nine months after they’ve been passed. But the two states are going slow, since possession of marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. Of utmost concern is that it is strictly regulated and the rules enforced for possession of marijuana and its use to avoid any blowback in the future. Once the necessary framework is in place, it will not be long before other states consider their own marijuana legalization initiatives

The movement to legalize marijuana aside from medical use has been gaining ground in the last few years, with many voters in favor of it. This could mean that politicians hoping to garner the liberal and youth vote for 2014 may be putting it up for ballots. Some of the states where the voting public is heavily leaning towards legalizing cannabis and which in fact has mostly decriminalized the possession of marijuana for medical or recreational use include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

If Colorado and Washington do it right, it could mean that the federal government will withdraw its objection to legalizing marijuana for non-medical use.

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Sub-standard Roof Pillars: Cause of Easy Roof Collapse during Rollover Accidents

Jul 22, 2013 by

Besides head-on collisions, another motor vehicle-related accident, which always results to severe injuries or even wrongful death, is roof crush or roof collapse during a rollover accident. Rollover crashes severely injure at least 24,000 individuals and kill up to 10,000 in the US every year. And though any vehicle can roll over, taller and narrower ones, such as pickups, SUVs, vans and buses are those more prone to roll over due to their heavy tops.

Many vehicles are designed with a reduced strength and size of roof and supporting structure in an attempt to lessen vehicle cost and weight; this, however, also significantly diminishes the safety of the driver and other passengers. To lessen weakness of roof structure, which is the main cause of car roofs crushing down on the driver’s head and spine, the government has established the following roof crush resistance standards:

  • Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216 (FMVSS 216)/49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 571.216 – for multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs), passenger cars, buses and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 2,722 kilograms (6,000 pounds) or less;
  • Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216a (FMVSS 216a)/49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 571.216a (upgraded standard) – for multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs), passenger cars, buses and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) or less. This does not apply to school buses, some convertibles, trucks built in two or more stages, and some others.

One of the main reasons for roof collapses is roof pillar failure. Car pillars are the vertical structures that support the roof of a car. A car usually has six roof pillars, which go in pairs: the A-pillars, B-pillars, and C-pillars. As these pillars’ main functions are to support the vehicle and keep the roof from crushing down on you during a rollover accident, these serve as part of your best protection, therefore.

The B-pillars are that vertical supports placed between the front and rear doors, while the C-pillars are those that join the rear side windows to the rear window. The A-pillars, which plays a key function in driver safety, anchors the windshield, the beginning of the roof and the front side windows; these also serve as channels for electrical wiring for overhead lighting and lights at the rear of the vehicle, contain curtain airbag tethers and other tether attachments, provide a sturdy area for SUV and big pickup’s grab handles and may even integrate speakers for the vehicle’s audio system.

Though required to ensure reliable strength from the outside, inside, it must provide a soft design that will offer much protection to unbelted car occupants during head impacts. Despite the many functions of the A-pillars, manufactures ought to ensure that these do not move during rollover accidents to help ensure the greatest protection to occupants.

Various road safety agencies hold manufacturers liable for pillar collapse during rollover accidents because such accidents are typically a result of poor-quality materials, faulty vehicle design and the manufacturers’ failure to properly test the reliability of the roof pillars they have produced, making them totally answerable for every injury and death their sub-quality standard products result to.

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Workplace Retaliation: What it is and the Laws that Protect You from it

Jul 20, 2013 by

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are just two of the many agencies and laws that safeguard the rights of all employees, as well as job applicants, in the United States. Through these two federal decrees, individuals are protected from being intimidated, coerced, threatened, harassed, unjustly compensated, discriminated against, wrongfully terminated, (and many others) in the workplace. Besides these, there is another protection that EEOC offers, but which employees may not be aware of – that is, protection against retaliation.

Retaliation refers to any adverse act resorted to by an employer, labor organization or employment agency against an employee who participates in legally protected activities. An adverse act is any act, like termination, refusal to hire, unjustified negative references or evaluation, and criminal or civil charges, that will impede a person from opposing or participating in employment discrimination proceedings; a legally protected activity, on the other hand, refers to any act that will help expose and /or prove discriminatory practices or harassment in the workplace. Some samples of protected activities are:

  • Refusal to follow a superior’s order which is honestly alleged as discriminatory
  • Protesting/picketing against workplace discrimination
  • Showing intent to file a charge of discrimination or actually filing a case of employment discrimination
  • Acting as a witness in an EEOC investigation or legal proceeding

There are acts of retaliation that are quite obvious, such as reduction in salary, demotion, being denied a raise or promotion, and being fired from work; there are retaliatory acts too that are subtle and, therefore, not immediately apparent, like job relocation or a change in work schedule, which could limit employee flexibility or greatly inconvenience a parent-employee.

There have been many laws passed and agencies formed with the intent of protecting employees from employer retaliation regardless of the status of their employment (while still employed, retaliation may be in the form of demotion, reduction in salary, etc.; retaliation after employee’s resignation from work can include bad referencing). Some of these laws are:

  1. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which was signed into law in 1970 and which gave rise to the government agency called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This law was designed to keep workers from any hazards in the workplace, like toxic chemicals, damaging noise levels, extreme temperature (heat or cold), dangerous machinery, etc.;
  2. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which became a law in 1993. It lays down the right of every employee to take time off from work due to illness or injury, either to his/her own person or to a family member, and arrival of a new child (through birth or adoption);
  3. Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). This became a law in 2002 and is also known under the name Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protector Act of 2002. The Act asks employees to report to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) any accounting violations or accounting fraud scandals committed by public companies.

Obviously, no employer would admit resorting to retaliatory acts to get back at an employee. However, if you honestly feel that your employer is retaliating against you, then one of the wisest moves to take is to ask for legal advice.

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Paying Required Insurance Premium does not Mean Getting the Full Benefits

Jul 19, 2013 by

Disasters that damage commercial properties can prove to be too costly to the owners and their business. Most often, the only probable and fastest solution that can help property owners rise up from losses is through insurance claims, to which larger premiums have been paid for purposes of adequate protection during catastrophes.

Many calamities have occurred and many commercial property claims have been filed, but the usual responses from insurance providers have either been total denial of the claim or payment that fall short of the full amount of premium specified.

Filing for claims is always never without a disputed issue, a fact that points to the interests of the insurance firm and the insured that are frequently be in opposition of each other. For the insured believes, after paying the stipulated premiums, that the insurance provider will pay for all things claimed or the full amount of benefits specified in the contract; this, however, is almost always never the case as insurance firms oftentimes resort to means that will keep them from paying the full benefits. Not keeping to their end of the deal, insurance providers often get accused of acting in bad faith, that is, the unjustly treating any claims made, either through denial or under valuation of damages and losses for minimal payments.

To approve a claim, information answering or related to the following are required by insurers:

  • What caused the loss
  • Whether the loss is actually covered by the policy
  • The extent of damage to the property
  • Which items need replacement or mere repairs
  • The actual cost required in the repair or replacement of the property
  • The actual amount the insurance firm ought to pay the claimant

Cause of loss or damage to property is not limited to natural disasters, such as earthquake or weather events, but includes fire, flood, plumbing leaks or theft. A denial or any under valuation of claims can have a major effect on owners of properties. Thus, to get the full benefits stipulated in the policy property owners will definitely need the services of an insurance attorney who is knowledgeable in the contents of insurance policies and insurance laws. As the required payments to premiums have been made, the expected benefits ought to be awarded – this is what the contract between the insured and the insurer states; anything that deviates from this constitutes acting in very bad faith.

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Medical Licensure: Not a Guarantee to Medical Competence or Professionalism

Jul 18, 2013 by

Acquiring a medical license in the United States is one rigorous process due to the predetermined credentials applicants need to hurdle for years and prove achievement of, such as completion of medical studies, postgraduate training and making it through the national medical licensing examination. And, after obtaining a license, maintaining it through faultless health care practice will prove to be equally, if not much more, demanding.

A medical license establishes the required minimum competency – a factor that will determine whether a physician is qualified to diagnose and treat patients. In the US, medical practice is subject under state regulations, thus, the granting of license is often entrusted to the state’s medical licensing board which, in turn, is subject to that same state’s administrative procedure acts. This state authority is rooted on the United States Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which empowers the state to create laws and policies that will protect the health, safety and general welfare of its residents.

Besides granting medical license, the state’s medical licensing board is also responsible for reviewing and investigating complaints filed against physicians (on matters concerning malpractice, incompetence or unprofessional conduct), disciplining those who violate the law, conducting evaluations and facilitating rehabilitation of physicians if necessitated. Such control envelops the medical profession due to the possible harm it may cause an individual in case an incompetent or impaired physician is licensed to practice. It is, therefore, important that only those who qualify under the state’s predetermined qualifications are given the license to practice medicine in that state.

Despite the rigorous requirements and policies of state medical boards, many doctors are still found guilty of violating the medical board laws. Some states are experiencing an increase in matters concerning standard of care, non-therapeutic prescribing, chemical dependency, sexual boundary violations, failure to maintain adequate charts and records. All these render a physician’s medical license in danger of being suspended, revoked or held in probation. At this point, the wisest move a physician can make is to seek assistance from a lawyer highly-tested and competent in health laws established and regulated in his/her own state, as well as on the stipulations of his/her state’s Medical Board.

Save your license and continue practicing the profession you have always dreamed of. All it takes, when in danger of losing the license you have painstakingly acquired, is seek and retain a medical license lawyer; make sure though, that the one you hire is highly competent.

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Sole Proprietorship: The Business Entity You May Want to Form

Jul 14, 2013 by

The US federal government recognizes about 6 types of business organizations based on federal tax purposes; these are Sole Proprietorship, C-Corporation, S-Corporation, (General or Limited) Partnership, Trust and Non-profit. Each organization is designed to suit every entrepreneur’s specific needs, which include his/her intended type of service, future plans for growth and, most importantly, the type of limited liability protection desired (limited liability protection is one of the major considerations when it comes to a firm’s legal concerns. It limits the owner’s/shareholder’s amount of financial liability to the amount of capital he/she has invested, saving whatever personal assets he/she has).

Each type of organization has its own advantages and disadvantages, especially where profit, management and legal matters are concerned. One specific type of business organization is sole proprietorship, a type of firm that is owned and run by only one person. Sole proprietorship is the most widespread form of business entity in the United States, making up about 73% of all firms in the nation.

Advantages of Sole Proprietorship

  • Though the smallest form of business entity it can earn the highest profits and, since the business and its owner are taken as just one entity, one tax payment satisfies the federal tax law required
  • Sole proprietorship is also easy to start and much easier to manage (as there are no clashing of interests, which can happen when there are more owners)
  • It ensures faster and greater flexibility in making decisions
  • Whenever the owner decides to end operations, all he/she has to do is close shop and settle whatever bill needs to be paid.

Disadvantages of Sole Proprietorship

  • In a sole proprietorship, liability of the owner is unlimited, meaning, creditors can run after the owner’s personal assets, not just the capital he/she has invested, in payment of debts
  • Since there is only one owner, the amount of capital to start a business may, thus, be limited, affecting the stock inventory and number of qualified or competent employees needed to run the business efficiently
  • The owner may also have limited managerial skills, which can limit the firm’s growth, plus, the business is sure to end the moment the owner decides to sell it, quit or dies

An extraordinary set of skills is required to make the business grow and become a success. One definite good news for highly enthusiastic entrepreneurs, however, is that there are many lawyers who are experts in the area of business organization. With the help a business formation lawyer, you will be able to start and run your business right.

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