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Saving Your Self from a Possible DWI Conviction

DWI or driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired, which refers to driving while impaired by the effects of alcohol or drugs (illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs), is a serious crime. In all U.S. states, to specifically address the very old problem of intoxicated driving, the U.S. Congress lowered the national illegal limit for impaired driving to 0.08%; the year was 2000. Prior to this, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit was 0.15% (since 1938).

To further reduce drunk or drugged driving incidences, some authoritative bodies have been empowered to still lower BAC limits, as well as impose more severe penalties on offenders. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), for instance, has mandated a 0.04% BAC limit for commercial vehicle drivers, such as those driving a truck, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set a zero tolerance level for those below the age of 21.

Many states have also become stricter in enforcing anti-drunk driving laws, setting up of more sobriety check points and becoming more observant of signs of drunk driving. Police officers also have the authority to stop a driver suspected of being impaired and require him/her to undergo some tests, like standing on one leg, walking on a straight line, or submitting to a breathalyzer test.

Professional-grade breathalyzer devices, such as those used by law enforcers for roadside alcohol testing, are acknowledged as highly accurate and sensitive. However, there are important factors that enforcers need to consider when using these devices on suspected drunk drivers:

These breathalyzers require periodic calibration in order to maintain accurate reading; failure to calibrate these regularly can affect BAC analysis.

Breathalyzers can definitely measure alcohol which is present in alcoholic drinks; however, it will also give measurable BAC readings if one consumes food cooked in alcohol, or uses substances that contain small amounts of alcohol, like toothache medicines and mouthwash.

Acetone, which cab be detected in the breath of those on high protein diets and those with diabetes, and other compounds that have a molecular structure similar to alcohol, may result to BAC readings. Besides these, adhesives, plastics, varnish, paint fumes, and cleaning chemicals with rubbing alcohol, can also produce false BAC results.

Impairment, which is the effect of alcohol and the real root of danger for both the impaired driver and all others on the road, is the major reason why drinking and driving is strictly prohibited under federal and state laws. But, while this may be a totally acceptable reason for apprehending and charging offenders, one main issue that has led to so many legal concerns is the overzealousness of some enforcers which has, in a number of instances, resulted to the unreasonable arrest of many individuals.

A driving while intoxicated conviction can be life-altering, often resulting in license suspension, substantial fines, probation, prison time and serious personal and professional consequences that can be exceedingly difficult to overcome. To save your future from getting ruined due to a minor mistake (on your part), it might be essential to seek the services of a highly-competent lawyer for your defense.

The Benefits Offered Under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Law

Divorce, loss of job, reduction in income, a natural calamity, an unexpected health problem that necessitates continuous costly medical treatment, and so forth, are just few of the possible reasons why people suddenly become incapable of paying their mortgage, car loan and other debts. But the more payments missed the higher the amount of their debts become, until these reach an amount that is already quite impossible to still settle. It is normal for anyone with a huge debt to go through a nerve-racking experience; add to this the hounding and harassment of creditors and/or debt-collectors to force a debtor to pay what he/she owes. In 2010, an estimated 1.53 million Americans, who owed creditors huge amounts, but were no longer able to pay, filed bankruptcy in various U.S. federal bankruptcy courts. Bankruptcy is a legal procedure which allows a debtor to declare inability to make further payments to settle his/her debts. It has been allowed under the law to save people from overwhelming debts to give them a fresh start in their financial lives. There are many chapters in the Bankruptcy law, each designed to address the specific and unique financial situation a person is in. One specific chapter is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, also known as Liquidation Bankruptcy. Taking from its name, Chapter 7 requires a debtor to surrender to a court-appointed trustee his/her “non-exempt” assets and properties for liquidation. One task of the trustee is to sell these properties in order to raise the amount needed in paying off aborrower’s creditors. Payment will only be on debts that are non-dischargeable; these include, but are not limited to:

  • Unlisted debts and creditors;
  • Most student loans, unless paying these would cause “undue hardship” to the borrower and/or his or her dependents;
  • Federal, state, and local taxes which are no more than three years old from the time these first became due;
  • Court fees;
  • Government-imposed penalties, fines, and restitution;
  • Child support and alimony or spousal support; and,
  • Debts resulting from wrongful death or personal injury damages if these are consequences of DUI.

Dischargeable debts, on the other hand, include personal loans, credit card loans, medical bills, past utility bills, etc.; the debtor is freed from these debts by the court. For non-exempt assets and properties, these include:

  • Motor vehicles, jewelry and tools used by the debtor in his or her trade or profession – but only up to a certain value;
  • Reasonably necessary household furnishings and goods, and clothing;
  • Household appliances;
  • Pensions, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and a certain percentage of the borrower’s still unpaid but earned wages; and,
  • Compensation for personal injury.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the quickest way for a debtor to gain relief from his/her debts and begin the process of rebuilding his/her credit. Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers the near-total liquidation of all debts that an individual may hold, giving those who pursue this option the ability to start their financial life anew. However, not everyone may qualify for this chapter due to the conditions set in 2005 by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. To understand more about this Chapter, as well as find out if this is the right bankruptcy chapter to file, consulting with a highly-competent bankruptcy lawyer may be a good decision.

Dealing with Auto Liability Insurance Companies through Legal Representation

“Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes”: this is the primary duty of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While some car accidents are due to “unavoidable and unpredictable” occasions, more are results of another motorist’s recklessness or carelessness on the road. In fact, based on different studies and analyses of car crash data (both in the U.S. and in many other parts of the world), more than ninety percent of all car crashes are due to the fault of drivers.

Any defense to disprove this claim necessitates looking in crash data again which will always show that the most common causes of car crashes are drunk-driving, over or under-speeding, reckless driving and driver error, of which use of hand held phones and other forms of devices is the most common form of driver distraction and, thus, the leading cause of car crashes. Due to all these causes, the yearly numbers of those who sustain injuries and those who end up dead, amount to more than two million and more than 30,000 thousand, respectively.

For at fault drivers not to have any excuse in not compensating those who suffer injuries during accidents, every state in the U.S. mandated drivers to carry auto liability insurance. Depending on the state where a driver resides, the type of insurance he/she will need to carry depends on the system of coverage recognized in his/her state.

Auto liability insurance coverage requirement may either be tort insurance coverage or the no-fault insurance coverage. In tort states, the car accident victim can file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The amount of compensation that the victim is legally entitled to receive, which usually covers medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, will be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. There are 38 states where this type of insurance coverage is currently mandated.

In no-fault states, which include of Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, and Utah, the insurance provider pays its own policy holder in the event of an accident, regardless of whose fault the accident is. The payment, called the personal injury protection (PIP), covers lost wages (due to workdays missed), medical bills and property damage. The desire to still pursue additional payment for damages to property can be done in court.

The law firm Ravid and Associates, P.C. understands how valuable insurance benefits can be in covering accident-related expenses; yet, despite property damage and obvious injuries, many car insurance companies find ways to deny applications or delay payments, making a personal injury protection claim an additional burden for so many drivers.

Since dealing with insurance companies is a legal matter, it may be in the best interest of drivers to seek legal representation from highly-competent car accident lawyers who know very well how to deal with these insurance firms.

Regular Exposure to Toxic Substances: Sentencing Workers to Their Early Death

Besides dangerous tools, equipment, and machinery, workers in industrial workplaces are also regularly exposed to another form of danger; toxic substances. The poisonous matter lead to the development of deadly, chronic diseases that keep many workers out of work or which make them them go on early retirement, require continuous medical treatment and which often alter the way these workers will spend the rest of their lives.

In line with its mission to create a safe and healthy working environment, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an off-shoot of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970, passed the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) in 1986. The HCS, also known as the “Worker Right-to-Know Legislation,” or the “Right-to-Know Law,” is directed to employers, requiring them to inform all their employees of the hazardous and deadly elements found, stored and used in the workplace and the measures that will protect these employees from the elements’ harmful effects. Aside from this, HCS also requires that:

Employees be given proper training regarding health and safety risks in the workplace, as well as free access to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), a document wherein information on the potential hazards of chemical products and how to work safely with these products are contained;

Warning labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) be attached by manufacturers and importers on all toxic products; and,

Labels should clearly specify the hazardous product’s potential effects to health, recommendations on how to store the product safely, instructions on the product’s safe use, emergency first aid instructions, and the manufacturer’s contact number/s in case the customer needs more information about the product.

Toxic substances and chemical hazards affect the lives of more than 13 million workers in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The deadly effects of some of these elements can be sustained through inhalation of their fume. One particular substance that has caused serious lung disease in workers is silica (or crystalline silica), one of earth’s most common minerals and a basic component of granite and sand. Workers who are often exposed to this poisonous substance include foundry workers, miners and sandblasters. Due to regularly exposed to silica they face the danger inhaling its particles which can cause serious lung diseases, like silicosis, pulmonary tuberculosis or lung cancer.

There are three types of silicosis, namely:

  • Simple chronic silicosis. This develops at least 20 years after having been exposed to low amounts of silica particles or dust;
  • Accelerated silicosis. This takes about 5 to 15 years to develop due to exposure to larger amounts of silica particles; and,
  • Acute silicosis. This is the result of exposure to huge amounts of silica. This usually develops after weeks or months of exposure to silica’s toxic dust.

Any Houston personal injury attorney knows that employers are fully aware of two things: the dangers of being exposed to silica and that they allow, even require, some of their workers to be exposed to this toxic substance regularly.

The law firm Ravid & Associates, likewise, points out the dangers that workers face when exposed to toxic substances, saying that besides possibly suffering any type of serious injury (in case of an accident), the dangerous working condition they are exposed to can even result in wrongful death.

Silicosis, specifically, has no cure or treatment, other than bronchodilators, cough suppressants, and, if needed, oxygen. A person who is suffering from this type of lung disease can fall into deep financial problems too due to the high cost of medical treatment. Through the help of a seasoned personal injury lawyer, however, he/she may be able to claim compensation which will, at least, allow him/her to receive the necessary medical treatment that may somehow lessen the hardship he/she is suffering from.

Truck Accident due to Mechanical Failure

Due to the huge size and large carrying capacity of semi-trailers or big rigs, all those who wish to operate, and keep on operating, this type of vehicle will need to prove that they possess the required skills, as well as pass all the tests required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Trucking companies should also meet the safety standards and operating rules implemented and enforced by state and federal agencies.

Many truck accidents, including fatal ones, are the fault of truck drivers who: operate their vehicle while sleepy or fatigued, impaired by alcohol; never check for the possible presence of smaller vehicles, especially on their no-zone or blind areas; neglect or fail to inform their companies about a defect in the specific truck that they operate; fail to use warning lights when their truck breaks down or when pulling on the side of the road; or fail to make the proper truck stops or override the brakes.

There are times too when fault may be traced to the trucking company due to its failure to comply with federal trucking regulations, like testing truck equipment or conducting the regular maintenance to make sure the rigs safe or which dispatches trucks despite existing mechanical problems.

While any truck part or component can break down or become defective, there are certain parts that fail more often than others, such as brakes, lights, tires and mirrors. Two things are true about defective truck parts: these can cause accidents resulting to serious injuries or fatalities; and, establishing fault can be difficult since it would require proper and exhaustive investigation in order to prove that the problem was actually a particular truck part and not the driver, who may just be lacking sleep.

According to a personal injury attorney in Indianapolis, if a trucking accident occurs because of mechanical defects or malfunctions, the manufacturers, instead of the truck driver, can be held liable for any injuries or accidents resulting from their faulty products. Manufacturers who produce and releases defective or faulty products are vulnerable to product liability claims, and most often, to strict liability claims.

Strict liability claims focus on the products themselves, rather than on the behavior of the manufacturer (such as in a negligence claim). With strict liability claims, a manufacturer is held responsible for a defective or malfunctioning product regardless of how he or she acted. Thus, even though a manufacturer does not display any sign of negligence, he/she can still be held liable for any and all defects. In certain situations, claims can also be brought against wholesalers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers as well.

Getting injured in a truck accident can very well change the future life of a victim and his/her family. There are a lot more at stake than just physical injuries and pains. Getting the services of a seasoned personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident may just be a move a victim needs to make for the possible legal action he/she will need to pursue for the sake of himself/herself and his/her family.