The Jones Act: Protecting Seamen Who Get Injured on the Job

Feb 08

The Jones Act protects seamen by giving them the right to sue their employer for personal injury or negligence damages. This federal maritime law, which is originally called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is designed to protect seamen who get injured on the job.

To determine who are qualified for the benefits offered under the Jones Act, some terminologies are assigned their appropriate definitions:

  • Seaman. This refers to any person who spends a significant amount of his/her time on a vessel or on a specific fleet of vessel (“in navigation”) as a member of the crew member or as captain.
  • A vessel in navigation. This is any type of boat that is afloat, in operation, capable of moving and on navigable waters (this definition excludes vessels in a drydock or those out of the water and up on blocks; floating casino barges; oil drilling platforms; and newly built vessels that are still undergoing sea trials). “Navigable waters” refer to rivers or lakes used for interstate or foreign commerce (may oceans and landlocked lakes, but only if these extend to another state or are connected to a river that flows into another state).
  • Significant Amount of Time. In order to qualify as a seaman, a person has to spend at least 30% of his/her employment time on a vessel. Thus, anyone who works 70% of the time in the office and 30% on a vessel can be considered a seaman.

The Jones Act strictly requires maritime employers to:

  • Provide seamen with a reasonably safe place to work; and,
  • Use ordinary care, under any circumstances, to keep and maintain the vessel, on which a seaman works, in a reasonably safe condition. Any unsafe condition on a vessel can lead to liability under the Jones Act and, in the event of injury, the injured seaman needs only to prove that his/her employer’s negligence was a contributory factor to the events that resulted to his/her injuries in order for him/her to recover damages against his/her Jones Act employer.

Employer carelessness or negligence often result to injuries or death at sea due to “unseaworthy” ships and vessels. Injuries on open water, under the Jones Act, allows injured employees to seek compensation that will cover medical care expenses, lost wages from missing work and emotional trauma.

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Causes of Substance Abuse

Dec 22

Substance abuse has become a huge menace in many parts of the world. While there have been concerted effort in trying to put an end to the problem, there seems to be no indications that such efforts are succeeding. According to 2014 statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 7 million Americans who are more than 12 years old use illicit drugs. In addition, 6.4% of Americans or 17 million adults are also drug or alcohol dependent.

Nashville criminal defense attorneys will tell you that substance abuse can have a long-term effect on an individual. It can have an impact on their ability to find employment, qualify for financial aid for college, and others. There are many reasons why people will resort to substance abuse. Here are some of the causes:

Genetic Causes

It is believed that drug abuse runs in families. Parents that are into substance abuse puts their child at risk but it is possible for the children to grow up without drug abuse problems. However, genetics alone is not the cause of substance abuse.

Co-occuring Conditions

Drug abuse often occurs in combination with other conditions such as mental illness. Other conditions may aggravate another condition. Substance abuse may result from one’s attempt to manage the symptoms of an underlying mental illness. A person suffering from depression may resort to drug abuse to “get high” as a way of escaping their depressive mood.

Environmental Causes

Sometimes the environment where an individual lives can be the cause of substance abuse. When they are being abused or neglected by their parents, an individual may resort to using drugs. An adolescent or teenager will use the illicit drugs to catch the attention of their parents.

Combined Causes

Sometimes a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychiatric factors may cause an individual to abuse drugs.

Personal Choice

Sometimes people abuse drugs because of their personal choice. They have the belief that the substance will improve their life.

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The Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947

Nov 03

Today in the U.S. operation of trucks or vans for deliveries, or driving a bus or a cab are no longer the only works which require employees to sit behind the wheel. Hotels now also have their own transport service using cars or coaster buses for tourists; even companies have hired drivers whose job is to transport top executives to different locations for job-related work. Evidently, driving is now daily work for many workers in the U.S. – this takes work from the office to the streets.

It is necessary that workers, whose job is outside the four walls of an office building understand their legal right, in case they get involved in an accident wherein they are at-fault or wherein they are the victims (it may be necessary for regular employees too to know their rights in case they are requested by their manager or employer to make a detour for a company errand while driving on their way home or to the office). This is because so long as an employee is performing an act in behalf of his/her employer, even outside his/her work hours, such act will be considered as part of work and, as it is, out of office work exposes workers or employees to more danger, such as a car accident that can result to serious injuries which, in turn, can end up in them being disabled.

That employees performing any errand in behalf of his/her employer even outside his/her work hours is part of work and, therefore, requires payment is stipulated in the Portal-to-Portal Act which was passed into law in 1947. This law, which makes clear what specific activities are considered job-related and which are not, is to make sure that employees, who get injured even outside of the workplace and outside their regular work shift, are considered eligible to apply for compensation with their state-administered Workers’ Compensation insurance program. Workers’ Compensation is an employer-sponsored benefit that is designed to provide wage replacement and medical benefits to employees who get injured in the course of employment or who develop an occupational disease.

The cash benefits employees may be entitled to receive would be very helpful in making sure that injured employee and his/her family are saved from suffering financial crisis on top of the physical injuries he/she is already suffering from. As indicated in the website of the law firm Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC, some of the common effects of a transportation accident are whiplash, head and brain injury, psychological trauma, bone fractures, missed work time, and wrongful death.

The circumstances surrounding every transportation accident are unique, however, one threat that victims share is the potential to sustaining a grievous injury. Depending upon the nature of the accident, vehicle, and job position, an employee may be eligible for compensation related to injuries, property damage, lost wages, and other considerations.

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Trucking Company Negligent Acts which Lead to Truck Accidents

Apr 20

About two million registered semi-trucks or 18-wheelers operate on roads and highways, delivering goods and cargo from one city or state to another to make the economy alive and growing. But though the contribution of these huge vehicles to the nation’s economy is definitely substantial, it cannot be denied that these also remain to be sources of threats where road traffic safety is the concern.

Both the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continue to enact and strictly implement laws that would significantly reduce the yearly number of road crashes involving semi-trailers, as well as keep injuries, in the event of accidents, minor. However, despite the laws and the enforcement of these laws, the FMCSA reports that truck accidents continue to injure close to or more than 100,000 individuals and kill about 4,000 others every year. In fact, in 2013, fatal truck accidents claimed 3,964 lives and injured 95,000 other motorists and pedestrians.

Some of the laws created and enforced by the NHTSA and FMCSA are on driver skills and qualification in operating a semi-truck, minimum federal standards on brakes and tires, the maximum nunber of driving hours and required number of rest hours before the next shift, impairment due to alcohol, illegal drugs or over-the-counter/prescription drugs, use of cell phone while behind the wheel, and the removal of bad drivers from the road (this last mandate is actually contained in the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which was passed in 1986).

In 2015, the number of qualified semi-truck drivers was 48,000 – a big concern for many oprerators, actually, who often found themselves in need of more drivers in order to complete job demands and requests. This continuous thinning in the number of qualified (skilled and licensed) truck drivers is actually due to these drivers moving to another field of work for a number of understandable reasons, like: the demands of the job which, very often, required long periods away from family; driving for very long hours alone and then spending sleep and rest periods inside the truck’s sleeper berth; and, the job’s very small pay (many truck drivers remain to be paid “by the mile”, which means that the more miles they cover, the bigger pay they have; however, this “by the mile” pay does not include distance covered when they get lost or when they make a detour for a quick pass at home). Besides, a local job would enable them to earn the same amount of pay with very little stress and not separated from their families.

In order to stay in business and keep the business profitable, some operators or employers resort to unacceptable and, often, illegal, means, like hiring unqualified drivers, failing to properly train drivers, requiring drivers to drive longer than the legally allowed hours of service, allowing drivers to continue driving despite past or very recent traffic violations, failing to properly screen applicants for driving violations records, failing to conduct regular truck checks and maintenance, and not immediately replacing worn out truck parts, especially tires and brakes. Some employers and trucking firms, in order to evade charges and liability towards victims of accidents, also simply re-register under a different name and management.

Though drivers are the ones directly operating trucks, their performance will always be affected by their superiors and the trucking firm where they are employed. Thus, any irresponsible or negligent act by employers can also result to tragic accidents just like errors committed by drivers themselves. In its website, the Sampson Law Firm points out the civil liability of anyone whose actions or failure to act correctly causes injury to innocent victims.

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Accidents Involving Innocent Pedestrians

Nov 20

Both drivers and people have to follow the traffic regulations and guarantee safe travel when sharing the trail. While most people are required to follow regulations, there are some critical variations to make between their responsibilities that are different. Individuals are guarded against damage seat belts with a sturdy steel framework, and airbags in the event of the collision, while a walking does not have any such security, particularly on vacations like Halloween. Automotive cars are a hazard to people because they are not large, extremely light, and vacation at high rates. Any accident probably will result to get a walking in critical, probably lethal accidents. Because of the risks that pedestrians experience in possible crashes, individuals are often necessary to give the correct of means to people in order to decrease the danger of painful accidents and fatalities.

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Many such incidents would be a driver’s negligent behavior, where they fail to detect a walking or are otherwise operating recklessly’s results. Unfortunately, even if a vehicle unexpectedly strikes an innocent walking, they are far more probable compared to the irresponsible driver to endure long and significant lasting consequences. According to the website of Habush Habush and Rottier, the following are several popular causes as to why pedestrian incidents occur:

  • Driver speeds, lowering their control of the car and reaction time
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving-while underneath the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failing to provide a walking the right of method

Victims of pedestrian accidents have a high probability of battling devastating physical injuries that will possess a lasting impact on their lifestyles, likely needing medical therapies that are expensive. They find it necessary so that you can relieve the economic problems connected with other deficits as well as their clinic visits to consider appropriate action against the driver.

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Blood Clots: Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For

Aug 02

The body naturally forms important blood clots in order to regulate circulation, preventing people from bleeding out due to cuts and wounds. However, there are instances when this function starts working abnormally and causes more harm than good. For individuals diagnosed with certain medical conditions, blood clots can start forming without cause and cause blockage in one’s cardiovascular system. This leads to a host of complications, most of which can be life-threatening.

Those at risk of facing irregularities in their blood clotting function should watch out for two particular conditions. Deep vein thrombosis refers to a blood clot that forms in a deep vein in one’s body. This usually affects the legs, but it can also happen in the deep veins in one’s arm. Another serious blood clotting condition is pulmonary embolism. This occurs when blood clots formed in a deep vein breaks off and travels to the lungs, blocking the arteries and preventing blood and oxygen from flowing.

A deep vein thrombosis usually starts as swelling in the affected leg or arm. This swelling can soon feel painful or tender and feel warm to the touch. There are also times when the skin in the affected area starts to look red or blue. When patients start observing these signs, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. This condition needs to be addressed as soon as possible to prevent the occurrence of pulmonary embolism. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heart rate, and coughing with bloody mucus point to the fact that the complication has already occurred.

Since abnormalities in blood clotting is a serious concern, the medical community has been hard pressed in making sure incidents like these are prevented through proper treatment. Xarelto is a popular blood thinning drug meant to address the problem in high-risk patients. Unfortunately, as noted by the website of Williams Kherkher Law, there have been several cases where patients have suffered from adverse side effects caused by the drug. In extreme cases, Xarelto has been found to cause brain hemorrhaging and gastrointestinal bleeding, risking the lives of patients even further.

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Lower Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Apr 07

Hundreds of thousands of individuals are hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding each year. The risk of death when gastrointestinal bleeding occurs is 12 percent. There are two types of gastrointestinal bleeding: upper and lower. Lower gastrointestinal bleeding has different signs and consequences than upper gastrointestinal bleeding and involves the small intestine, large intestine, bowels, rectum, and anus.

Bright red blood in the stool, fever, dehydration, and abdominal cramps are all signs of a bleed in the lower gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding may be minor or seem unsubstantial but may still lead to life-threatening health conditions. Similarly, even minor bleeds may cause anemia or low blood cell levels.

The most common cause of lower gastrointestinal bleeding is colitis or an inflammation of the colon. Infections in the digestive system, food poisoning, Crohn’s disease, and medication could all be reasons why colitis occurs. Hemorrhoids are another common reason why bleeding may be present in the urine or stool.

When a blood related disease is causing lower gastrointestinal bleeding, routine blood tests may be needed to help prevent significant blood loss. These types of tests may include complete blood cell count, serum electrolytes levels, and coagulation profiles. Often, physicians will prescribe anticoagulants in order to treat and prevent clotting when a condition is present.

While these precautions may aid in preventing severe bleeds, some medication actually causes these bleeds to become worse and possibly life-threatening, according to the website of Williams Kherkher. Xarelto, the popular blood thinner produced by Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, is currently involved in several lawsuits due to the increased risk of serious bleeding incidents in its patients.

Drug manufacturers should be held accountable for their faulty products. If you or a loved one suffered a gastrointestinal bleeding incident, contact a Xarelto lawyer in your state. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation for the pain and suffering you sustained due to the faulty drug Xarelto.

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Can You Charge for Medical Malpractice?

Jan 31

Hypothetically, say you were ill. The sickness is possibly threatening but can be treated if diagnosed properly and on time but your attending physician either made the wrong diagnosis or carelessly overlooked it, causing for the illness to grow more rapidly, leaving you more ill than you were before. Or, citing an example from the website of lawyers at the Abel Law Firm, perhaps say you were having a few minor complaints; maybe you were having a bit of muscle pain or a bit of trouble sleeping or having a headache and instead of standard prescribed medication that has proven to be trustworthy and effective, the doctor in question gives you experimental treatment that ends up in catastrophe and even further injury. Situations like these can be classified under medical malpractice.

Due to the incredibly vast nature of medicine, it can be quite difficult to acquire legal aid that is capable to navigate your case through a court of law. After all, the attorney you hire must be able to responsibly represent you in order for you to receive due compensation for your troubles.

Medical malpractice often leaves the victims scarred and afraid, which is perfectly reasonable. There are the expenses and additional medication in order to ensure recovery as well as the loss wages that must be taken into consideration. The trauma endured from the malpractice is incalculable and yet still, there must be compensation for the injury dealt all the same. A medical malpractice lawyer should be able to understand your case and even go as far so as to make sure that you only receive the very best and most capable treatments available so that you can go back to your regular life.

It can be a traumatic experience for all involved but if you or someone you know has been the victim of personal injury due to medical malpractice, it is advisable that legal assistance is hired as soon as possible in order to alleviate stress and heartache.

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Save Your Business against BP’s Claim Appeal

May 06

More than three years after British Petroleum (BP) spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, many companies and individuals are still waiting to have their claims paid; some have waited for months, others for years. The reason for the long wait is BP’s success in appealing individuals’ claims. These appeals, filed by the oil firm itself, are against what it believes are fraudulent claims filed against it (by those who were never really affected by the spill, but joined the claims spree to earn easy money).

It is a fact that many businesses still continue to lose big income and are still struggling to find ways to recover. It cannot be denied that the 210,000,000 US gallons or 4.9 million barrels of oil that were spilled by BP’s oil rig in the Mexican Gulf really affected many firms along and near the coastlines, especially companies that basically rely on the sea itself, like sea food restaurants and sea-based activities (boating, scuba diving, yachting, and others).

Since the spill in April of 2010, BP has already paid more than $25 billion to individuals, business firms and the government, including cost of clean-up, for claims settlement. Late did BP realize, however, that many of the settlement it has made were based on fraudulent claims. To stop unnecessary loses the oil firm filed a claims appeal, which finally gained approval in July of 2013.

The BP claim appeal put a stop in the payouts, despite the continuous rise in the number of claims still being filed. The real effect of the appeal is the burden it has caused on those businesses that were really affected, so that even if the claims made by these firms were evaluated as authentic, now they will have to battle legally to earn their money.

It is clear that BP is solid in its stand to expose fraudulent claimants than continue to suffer unnecessary loses – all at the expense of authentic claimants. This scenario makes the presence of claim appeal lawyers, fighting for your rights, an essential requirement if want your business to survive. Leaving your firm’s fate to the outcome of the appeal process would be like waving your right to get what you legally deserve, which would also mean the survival of your firm. And acting now would be much wiser than waiting again for months or years for a result that you absolutely have no idea what would be.

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Preventing Identity Theft through the Red Flags Rule

Mar 28

Every year about 9 million Americans end up as victims of identity thieves, who deplete their accounts and damage their credit, while leaving them with huge debts from purchases of things they have never even seen. Scam artists have been a threat to many businesses and individuals for so long, and since the dawn of the Internet plus the immense business and personal information contained in it, the con crime has just gotten faster and much easier to accomplish.

According to the website of Peter J. Berman, Ltd., identity theft refers to the wrongful acquisition and use of another person’s personal data, usually for economic gain. It remains a serious concern for corporations and consumers alike. About $50 billion in losses from more than 10 million individual adults are recorded every year; almost the same cost is spent by business firms in the US just to prevent identity thieves from hacking their files and data banks.

The fight against identity theft, especially by companies handling information about personal and business accounts (thieves’ most common targets), requires a serious program that will enable these same companies (and others of their like) to detect and prevent this crime. To help companies in this endeavor, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), through the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), has required business firms to conduct an Identity Theft Prevention Course, which will simultaneously train employees managing consumer information in red flag rules.

The Red Flags Rule refers to warning signs that will help businesses identify, prevent and lessen the damages caused by identity theft. It is part of the Identity Theft Prevention program (required by the FTC), which is a written set of guidelines that creditors and financial institutions with covered accounts should implement. By covered accounts, what is referred to is a consumer account that involves or permits payments or transactions, such as savings account, checking account, automobile loan, mortgage loan and credit card account. Through the red flags rule, it is hoped and expected that companies will be able to see through patterns and tactics that identity thieves employ in the performance of their crime.

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