Statute of Limitation and Issue of Jurisdiction Affecting Lawsuits Involving Cruise Ships

Posted by on Mar 2, 2017 in Cruise Ships | 0 comments

Cruise ship accidents and tragedies are major concerns for the Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 26 cruise lines. With more than 20 million passengers worldwide every year (more than 11 million passengers are from the United States), ensuring passenger safety ought to be every cruise line’s highest priority.

Passenger safety is the reason behind the passing in 2009 of the “Safe Return to Port” regulation. This directive was passed during the 2009 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). “SOLAS is an international maritime treaty which requires Signatory flag states to ensure that ships flagged by them comply with minimum safety standards in construction, equipment and operation.”

This program on safety is to make sure that crew members are capable of handling emergency situations competently and on time, and that every cruise ship is equipped with all types of emergency and life-saving equipment, such as life boats, rescue boats and life jackets, fire safety provisions, radio equipment and Search and Rescue Transponders (SARTs).

Today, cruise ship accidents, however, happen not only while the ship is out at sea. Shore excursion, which is now conducted in almost all ports of call, is a new possible cause of accident than can injure a passenger. A shore excursion is either conducted by the cruise line itself or by an independent tour company. It is meant to add excitement to a passenger’s cruise experience and, though time-constrained, it allows participating passengers to get the most out of the activities, which can include hiking, ziplining, horseback riding, rock-climbing, jet skiing, parasailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, shopping at local outdoor markets, dining, and cultural, archeological or tropical island tours.

For some passengers, shore activities have been a source of injury, though, rather than fun. Worse, some do not even make it to tour destinations as accidents already injure them while boarding a tender boat (the boat that will transport them to the shore and back to the ship) or while waiting for their bus at the port. Sometimes, while on land, passengers become targets of assault, sexual harassment or theft mainly due to the very poor security by the cruise line or private tour provider personnel.

According to the law firm Louis A. Vucci, PA, causes of cruise ship excursion injuries include dock accidents, tender boat accidents, inadequate security, defective/malfunctioning equipment, and motor vehicle accidents. Cruise ship excursion injuries are serious issues that often result to physical, emotional and financial sufferings for those injured. Though victims have the legal right to “seek compensation to help them cope with the effects of their injury, filing a civil lawsuit can be complicated without help from a seasoned cruise ship accident lawyer due to the:

  • Statute of limitation (the time limit for filing a civil lawsuit) and
  • Issue of jurisdiction. Lawsuits involving cruise ships are usually heard only at the U.S. District Court of Florida); this is the forum selection clause which is indicated in cruise ships’ ticket contracts. Jurisdiction can altogether change if the accident occurred on land, during a shore excursion.
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The Dangers of Scaffolds

Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 in Workplace Accidents/ Disability Benefits | 0 comments

The scaffolding that was almost as long a city block in downtown Houston collapsed in October of 2015. Long pieces of metal and wood laid scattered in front of the apartment complex that was under construction; it was an accident that injured six of the 200 construction workers working at the site.

The continuous increase in the number of high-rise construction jobs plus restoration of the aesthetic appearance of many old buildings in the U.S. have resulted to an increase in the number of workers needed to work on scaffolds to be able to reach the exteriors of tall buildings. In fact, more than a million construction workers are said to be working on scaffolds every day, which means more than a million lives always in danger.

A scaffold is a provisional structure that supports workers and the materials they will use in the construction, repair and maintenance of man-made structures like buildings and bridges; it is either suspended from above or supported from below.

Due to the many incidences of collapsing scaffolds in the past, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an off-shoot of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970 and which is charged with the regulation and enforcement of the OSH Act mandate of creating a safe and healthy working environment for all employees, saw it fit to impose a standard on scaffoldings in the hope of reducing incidences of falls or collapse which lead to injuries or workers’ death.

The law firm Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® agrees that the construction industry is one of the most dangerous career fields in the U.S.; it is also very aware that accidents which injure construction workers can most likely result to a number of daunting consequences, such as loss of income, due to time spent in recovery and costly bills for medical treatment. This is why the firm strongly emphasizes the importance of an injured worker understanding his or her legal rights and options in seeking the compensation that he or she may have a legal right to receive.

A scaffold that is not firmly assembled, not supported well from above or poorly maintained can most likely fail when used. After an accident, one important question is whose act of negligence was it that caused the scaffold to collapse. A highly-competent personal injury lawyer or construction accident lawyer may be able to provide the victim all the legal assistance necessary, including investigating further into matters relating to the accident, and in helping the victim determine if his/her case is worth pursuing legally.

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What Coverage Can You Get From Personal Injury Protection?

Posted by on Jun 30, 2016 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

When you get involved in a car or vehicular accident, what follows is a series of expenses that you may not be able to handle from your own pocket. Aside from repairs of your car, you will also be faced with medical expenses and other bills. For this reason, having personal injury protection (PIP) can be heaven sent. PIP is also called “no-fault” insurance and is usually require in no-fault states.

According to the website Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., state laws require motorists to carry at least a minimum PIP insurance coverage. This kind of policy shoulders accident-related expenses regardless of who was at-fault. Personal injury protection may cover as much as 80% of medical and other expenses, depending on the limits of the policy.

PIP covers medical expenses that you might incur whether as a passenger or as a pedestrian. In addition, it may also pay for service replacement of an injured person, rehabilitation, and funeral costs. With personal injury protection, there is no need to determine fault. The damages are paid at the soonest time possible and you only deal with the insurance carrier.

PIP has some similarities and difference with medical payments coverage. Both covers your medical costs as well as that of your passengers regardless of who was at-fault. However, medical payments coverage does not cover other expenses such as lost wages, rehabilitation expenses, and funeral costs.

However, one disadvantage of no-fault insurance is that it literally takes away your right to sue. While you can still make someone liable, some state laws determine when you can do so. For example, you can only sue unless one of the following happens:

Serious death or injury
Damages has reached or surpassed the threshold limit

If you have health insurance, you may combine it with personal injury protection. You can set your HMO as the main form of injury coverage after an accident. When you get hurt in a crash, your health benefits will cover your medical expenses. PIP will pay for expenses that exceeds your health insurance limits.

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Types of Damages that need to be Compensated Due to Wrongful Death

Posted by on Feb 6, 2016 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

A wrongful death is a legal action filed by the family of a person who dies due to another person’s wrongdoing or act of negligence. The main purpose of this lawsuit is to seek compensation for all the present and future losses that the family of the deceased are and will be subjected to. Compensation is supposed to cover funeral expenses, lost companionship and lost wages.

States classify losses or damages under the following categories: economic, non-economic and punitive. The specific items contained in each category differ among states, though.

a. Economic damages. These refer to all the financial contributions that the deceased would have provided to his or her family had he or she not died. Economic damages include: financial worth of the goods and services the deceased would have earned for his or her family; loss of possible inheritance; loss of the victim’s wages and other earnings; loss of the deceased victim’s financial benefits, such as pension plan; loss of possible medical coverage for victim’s family members; and, cost of medical treatment and funeral service.

b. Non-economic damages. These include the family’s non-material losses, such as: loss of love and companionship of the deceased; loss of the deceased victim’s care, guidance, nurturing and protection; loss of consortium with the deceased spouse; and, suffering, pain and mental anguish to be suffered by the family.

c. Punitive damages. This type of damages may include compensatory damages; however, in some states where this is not made available in wrongful death lawsuits, the awarding of treble damages, or triple damages, is made instead. Treble damages multiply the amount of actual damages to three. Awarding this type of damage falls on the discretion of the court, though, based on legally acceptable reasons. According to Cornell University, punitive damages are considered punishment and are awarded when the defendant’s behavior is found to be especially harmful.

Punitive damages are basically served on the liable individual to make him or her realize his or her erroneous act and to prevent him or her from committing such error again.

A negligent act, which is often the cause of wrongful death, can be committed by anyone: a driver, a construction worker, an office employee, a pilot, a doctor, etc. While it is true that the family of the deceased, according to the law firm Williams Kherkher, would rather choose to bring closure to the tragic event which has claimed the life of their loved one, it cannot do so until it has found justice and compensation for the damages and pains it has been made to unjustly suffer.

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What is an Automatic Stay?

Posted by on Oct 25, 2015 in Bankruptcy | 0 comments

People experiencing financial difficulties may find stability and refuge by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. According to the website of the legal team at the Bradford Law Offices, LLC, bankruptcy allows individuals to continue with their normal day-to-day functions while realigning their finances at the same time.

Many understand that the one primary goal of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to eliminate or discharge most of your unsecured debts. However, debt elimination is not the only purpose of bankruptcy filing. Many people file for bankruptcy to stop debtors, collection agencies, and the government from their collection activities during your bankruptcy case, which means filers are able to protect their assets (ex. properties, income) from any action of a creditor. Furthermore, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy protects from lawsuit and other legal actions.

Depending on where you live, the automatic stay doctrine applies a bit differently in each state. That’s why it is so important to consult first with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy expert to know how this type of filing may benefit you. But generally, here are the things that automatic stay can do for you:

  • Protects your monthly salary from garnishments – Bankruptcy allows you to take home your wage in full, without any garnishments taken against you by your employer. However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, bankruptcy cannot protect you from garnishments related to child support and alimony.
  • Protects you from service shut-offs – When you file for bankruptcy, the automatic stay prevents utility companies from cutting or altering your service. However, utility companies may demand “adequate assurance” of future payment from the debtor within a period of twenty days after the date of your filing. Failing to do so would allow utility companies to shut off your services, so you should act within the 20-day pass.
  • Protects you from collection of overpaid public benefits – If you are receiving public benefits (ex. VA comp, pension, disability benefits) and have been overpaid, bankruptcy may protect you from any collection actions by the government.
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Everything You Need to Know About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Posted by on Oct 24, 2015 in Workplace Accidents/ Disability Benefits | 0 comments

Carpal tunnel is a passageway located on the palm side of the wrist. This tunnel is composed of connective tissues and bones that connect the forearm to the other portions of the upper extremities. Apart from these connective structures, carpal tunnel also houses the median nerve, which connects the upper limbs to a network of nerve attached to the spine (brachial plexus).

The median nerve is the only nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel. However, injury to the carpal tunnel may result in the median nerve being compressed or ‘pinched.’ This medical condition is called carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS. This condition is characterized with weakness, numbness, and a tingling sensation in the affected upper limb. According to the website of WorkSTEPS, CTS primarily affects workers subjected to forceful and repetitive hand motions, such as those working in slaughter houses and factories. Those who are doing clerical and secretarial work are also at risk.

The symptoms associated with CTS may greatly affect your productivity. In fact, a Des Moines disability benefits lawyer may say that CTS has been associated with a number of short term disability applications in the country. Furthermore, because CTS can damage a person’s fine motor skills, this condition may profoundly narrow down the tasks that a person can accomplish, and thus may affect his/her capacity to make a living.

If you are prone to CTS and are experiencing numbness, weakness, and a tingling sensation in one or both of your arms, visit your physician right away for a CTS diagnosis. After studying your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may perform a series of tests to rule out other musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis and bone fractures. These tests may include nerve conduction tests to measure how well your forearm receives electrical impulses, and imaging tests such as X-rays.

If you are at high risk because of the nature of your work, you may also do some preventive measures to reduce your chance of having CTS. For instance, ensure that you are using only ergonomically-sound tools and equipment while at work. You may also consider talking with your supervisor about getting short but regular breaks to stretch your forearms, especially if your tasks involve repetitive hand motions.

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Creating Your Own Successful App for Business

Posted by on Oct 23, 2015 in Mobile Apps for Attorneys | 0 comments

Apps are always a great way to engage and re-engage your customers. In this day and age where everything is mobile and everyone is on the go, creating an app to keep in touch with your customers wherever they are is a great marketing strategy. But is creating an app still a great business approach even for the most peculiar, uncommon industry, including the legal sector?

The answer to this is a big yes! According to the website of Big Momma Apps, having your own app available on Google Play or App Store makes your law firm more in touch with existing and prospective clients. Whether a person is on the side of the road due to a fender bender, or has been attack by a dog while walking two or three blocks away from his home, having an app means a prospective customer may reach you whenever he needs legal help, without having to reach the comfort of his own home to open his desktop.

But what makes an app successful? Here are the tips that you should bear in mind when designing your own app:

Have a clear call to action in mind

Having a beautiful app is just one part of the story. You need to create an app that has a clear business goal. Do you want your customer to contact your firm? Do you want your app users to subscribe to a newsletter, or make a purchase? Apps are the best way to get your intentions across your customers. Through your apps, you can engage with your customers and tell them what you want them to do.

Design for different platforms

Mobile phones have an extensive user base. Within this base is a myriad of different mobile platforms that your customers use every day. Instead of designing an app for a smartphone, why not make a hybrid app that can cater both to customers in mobile phones and tablets? This way, you are ensuring maximum reach, which could benefit your business a lot.

Information is power

Having a great app is not enough. You need to track down your conversions to know which campaigns give you the most traffic. By knowing what people are clicking and what’s keeping them engaged, you can tweak your app to provide the best user experience.

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What to Do When My Car Brakes Fail

Posted by on Oct 22, 2015 in Car Accidents/ Car Insurance | 0 comments

Road-related mishaps happen due to a host of different causes – recklessness, distracted driving, defective car components, and many more. In the U.S., brake failure alone accounts for a multitude of devastating, sometimes even fatal car crashes. As such, it is important to check every important component of your car, including the brakes, to avoid being injured in a car accident.

Imagine driving at around 70 mph on an interstate when you suddenly noticed that your brakes are not gripping. Before you get cold feet, remember these simple tips in managing dysfunctional car brakes:

Never panic!

When you panic, certain regions in your brain become hyperactive, greatly affecting your reasoning skills and muscle coordination. When your brake goes out, the first thing you should do is to think that the situation is under your control, because it really is.

Let others be in the know

By honking your horn or turning on your hazard lights, you are telling everyone in the road that something’s wrong with your car.

Give your brake a second chance

For cars equipped with antilock brake system (ABS), try applying your brakes again by holding firmly on the brake pedal while you steer. Pumping your pedal if your car is equipped with ABS can actually accelerate the car, which will not help the situation. On the other hand, for cars equipped with standard brakes, apply short pumps to your brake pedal to help you decelerate faster.

Downshift as you go out of the traffic

Shift to a lower gear to slow your vehicle down. As you slow down the car, steer safely out of the traffic and into a safety zone, such as an emergency bay. Slowing down your car to a full stop may also mean driving further down the road, so be ready to use an exit ramp when needed.

Finally, do not allow your brakes to fail

Although some car accidents are undeniably inevitable, some incidents can be prevented with preventive care. By keeping every components of your well-checked before hitting the road, you are keeping costly, sometimes even injurious car-related incidents at bay.

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What You Need to Know About Spousal Support

Posted by on Oct 21, 2015 in Family Law | 0 comments

Spousal support, sometimes referred to as alimony, has been around the country for over many years now. Although spousal support regulations vary from state to state, its aim is quite straightforward: to allow one spouse in a divorcing couple to maintain his/her standard of living he/she enjoyed during the marriage. But although the concept behind spousal support is plain, deciding who is to pay and how much could involve an intricate legal process.

According to the BB Attorney website, reaching favorable spousal support arrangement is important especially if one couple is heavily dependent on the financial assistance of the other. A judge in one of your local courts is the one responsible in determining the amount of spousal support a dependent couple should receive. Calculations involve the assessment of how much the spouse needs to maintain the standard of living he/she once has, his/her capacity to be financially independent in the near future, the age and health of both parties involved, their educational attainment, and many more.

Coming up with a favorable and objective spousal support amount is one thing, but enforcing it would be another. According to the website of Holmes, Diggs, Eames & Sadler, a spouse should seek legal help immediately if one couple fails to pay alimony. Also, it is important to note that falling behind spousal support entails serious legal consequences, such as contempt.

There will also come a time when one or both couples would need to modify the amount based on certain situations, such as a life-changing event, such as retirement and long-term paralysis. Furthermore, a judge may decide to discontinue alimony payment if one of the couple dies, if one of them remarries, if the dependent spouse has already been given enough time to become financially independent, or if the children are in the right age to no longer need a full-time parent.

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What You Need to Know About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

Major accidents can be so traumatic, and they can damage you not just physically and financially, but mentally and emotionally as well. While it is normal to feel anxious or stressed days or weeks after an accident, some may have troubles coping even months or years after an accident. If symptoms of anxiety, stress and trauma caused by a traumatic event do not get better months after an accident, and if these symptoms interfere with your daily activities, you might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

The website of the LaMarca Law Group, P.C. says that although car accidents are considered among the primary reasons for PTSD, other traumatic events may cause this behavioral condition, such as an animal attack, or a traumatic incident at work or in someone else’s property. Your risk of PTSD also increases with family history, previous life experiences (such as childhood),

According to the website of McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm, having a PTSD after a traumatic car accident could affect how you perform your day-to-day activities. Symptoms of PTSD are generally categorized into four groups, namely:

  1. Intrusive symptoms – Memories of the traumatic event recurs in the form of thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks. The person might feel emotionally distress or react physically when reminded of the traumatic incident.
  2. Avoidance symptoms – The patient with PTSD tries not to remember the even and anything associated with it. He may choose to stay away from things or people that remind him of the accident. As such, he may feel that certain activities are not as enjoyable as they were before.
  3. Hyperarousal symptoms – A person may show extreme behavior (i.e. outburst of anger, depression, irritability etc.). He may also engage in self-destructive behavior (abusing substances, drinking too much, committing crimes etc.).
  4. Symptoms of negative thinking and mood – A person with PTSD may find it difficult to make new friends and maintain old ones. He may also show lack of interest in the future, and may tend to be careless in his personal and professional growth.

If you have recently been involved in a traumatic accident and if one or more of these symptoms continue to haunt you months after the event, or if you feel that it is disrupting your everyday life, consult with your doctor right away for an accurate PTSD assessment.

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