What You Might Not Know about Premises Liability

If you slip and fall in front of your neighbor’s house because of some oil he spilled on the sidewalk, is he liable? Yes, he is.

Premises liability can be a complex issue, but not in the above situation. Under premise liability law, your neighbor is responsible for keeping the sidewalk in front of his house clear and safe for the public. Your neighbor must have known the oil was potentially dangerous to the public, failed to clean up the oil (easily done with a piece of newspaper) or provide some type of warning about it to you or any passersby. If you sustained serious injury in your slip and fall, you can claim for compensation from your neighbor (or his insurance company) based on premise liability laws.

Premise liability statutes differ from state to state, but there are some general definitions that you should be aware of. This will help you identify when a premise liability claim can be made, and to ensure that you are never on the wrong end of a personal injury claim.

First of all, premise liability accrues to the person who is in possession of a physical property such as a lot, building, house, apartment, or establishment. A person is said to possess the premises when that person occupies and/or controls it. For example, a homeowner occupies a house and has control over what happens within and around the house. If a person rents an apartment but does not live in it, he or she is still said to be in control of it while the lease holds. A person does not necessarily have to own the premises to be in possession.

The second consideration in premises liability law is the nature of the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant in terms of the plaintiff’s presence on the premises at the time of the incident. There are three types of relationships under premises liability: invitee, licensee and trespasser. The first two categories of people may be considered to have a “legitimate” presence on the premises, and to whom the possessor owes a reasonable duty of care, which if absent and results in injury renders the possessor liable. For example, if Joe invites Linda to his house and a rotting tree branch in the backyard falls on her head, Joe may be liable for Linda’s injuries.

The third category of person may be considered an “illegitimate” presence on the premises, or one who has no right to be there in the first place. For example, if Nathan who lives behind Joe’s property decides to take a shortcut to his house by going through Joe’s backyard without Joe’s knowledge or invitation, and that same branch fell on his head, Joe might not be held liable for Nathan’s injuries.

Dangerous Practices Result in Devastating Incidents of Nursing Home Abuse

The home-like care which the elderly, physically or mentally disabled young adults, and victims of accidents who need rehabilitative therapy receive in a nursing home ought to be enough guarantee that they shall be kept safe and in good health. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

Nursing or convalescent homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities (SNF), offer medical care to elderly residents; they also aim at helping out their residents in daily activities, which include toileting, showering, and dressing.  Residents, usually 70 years and older, can enjoy a safe, nurturing environment in these facilities, as well as continuous nursing care.

While many nursing homes live up to the standards expected of them, many others fail to provide the necessary standard of care to their residents. Worse, elder abuse is an all too common problem in these facilities, including mental, physical, and even financial abuse. Threatening, insulting, humiliating, and mistreating a patient emotionally or verbally, as well as refusal to help a patient eat or get out of bed, are some of the most common abuses residents suffer from.

Physical abuse of nursing home residents residents includes forceful medicine and food intake, sexual assault, beating, refusal or negligence of the staff to feed, clothe or assist an elder in personal hygiene concerns, as well as the staff’s failure to keep patients from safety and health risks.

Financial abuse, on the other hand, consists in the staff stealing from patients, forcing patients to make unnecessary payments, and coercing patients to include their caretakers in the patient’s will.

The common causes of staff abuse in many nursing facilities are insufficient training, stressful working conditions, and not having enough registered nurses and nurse’s aides, resulting in staff burnout and loss of compassion for patients. Additionally, poor screening procedures can expose residents to dangerous or abusive caretakers.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what can happen due to nursing home abuse.

Consequences of a BUI

Charges of boating under the influence (BUI) are based on the Revised Code of Washington (RWC) Title 79A Section 60.040: “Operation of [recreational] vessel in a reckless manner, etc. Any person found operating a recreational vessel while under the influence of alcohol or any drug, whether legal or illegal, is violating this subsection of the RWC and may be charged with a misdemeanor.”

BUI is established much in the same way as driving under the influence. A person operating a boat or similar vessel in a reckless manner may be called upon to stop by an authorized person, and if there is probable cause such as the smell of liquor on the breath, may be ordered to undergo a field sobriety test if possible. The detaining officer may also request the boat operator to take a breath or blood test. A person may be charged with BUI if results show:

  • .08 or higher alcohol content as determined in a breath or blood test
  • Affected by alcohol or drug or combination of both while operating a vessel

The penalties for BUI are detailed under Title 9 Section 92 subsection 30 of the RCW which states that a person convicted for BUI shall be incarcerated in the county jail for no more than 90 days or fined a maximum of $1,000, or both, as mandated by the court. The defendant may also be liable for any injuries or damages that resulted from the offense , and may be made to pay restitution by the court.

There are no statutes specifying additional penalties for repeat offenders of BUI, unlike DUI which escalates into a felony with succeeding convictions. Moreover, there is no accompanying suspension of license as boat operators are not required to have one. However, a conviction for BUI should be avoided as it is still a criminal offense. A BUI lawyer should be consulted in the event of a BUI charge.

Explosion at Toy Design Center

toy design office explosionAn explosion went off at toymaker Mattel, Inc.’s El Segundo design center this morning.

The bang was heard at around 7:00 am and the city’s police and fire departments were alerted and responded to the scene. The Los Angeles County Sheriff Office’s bomb squad was also called in.

The blast did not seem to injure anyone and seems to have originated from a homemade explosive housed in a plastic bottle. Authorities evacuated the building during their investigation, which turned up the plastic debris. Employees were able to come in to work shortly thereafter.

The investigation is being handled as a crime. Due to recent events,  homemade explosives should be taken seriously. Police encourage anyone with information about this bombing to contact Detective Eric Atkinson at (310) 524-2216.

Many turn to Bankruptcy as U.S. Comes out of Economic Downturn

Insurmountable debts can cause small or newly established businesses to fail or individuals to suffer from incredible amounts of worry and stress. Seeking legal shelter which would lead to freedom from debt and restored financial control and stability is within anyone’s reach, though; many are just not totally aware on how to go about it.

All across the US, people and businesses experiencing overwhelming financial crises have the option to file for bankruptcy. Everyone ought to know that the US has bankruptcy laws which have been created to offer relief to those with crushing debts – to give them control over their financial future.

Whether for you, personally, or for your business, there are bankruptcy options that will help you or your business regain financial confidence. One option available to those looking for relief is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a liquidation bankruptcy process which others also call straight bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is one effective solution to solving or minimizing any debt crisis.

Individuals who own properties can apply for this type of bankruptcy. Though some of their assets could potentially be sold by a court-appointed trustee to pay their creditors, there are some assets that they can identify as exempt properties to keep these from being sold. Besides freeing them from their dischargeable debts, some of which are personal loans, debts due to medical bills and businesses, and credit card debts, court-approved bankruptcy application also prevents creditors from communicating, threatening or making any collection from the debtor; this means no lawsuits, telephone calls, wage garnishments or anything that would relate to collection of payment.

Anyone can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, so long as he or she has passed the means test – an effective way of keeping those with high income from being eligible to file. The means test was introduced in 2005 by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), which is the most substantial improvement to the bankruptcy laws ever since 1978. Although Chapter 7’s goal is to free you from your dischargeable loans, another discharge is no longer obtainable if the previous one that you received was no more than eight years ago.

Companies that file for this particular bankruptcy will have to stop operations and go out of business, except if allowed to continue by the appointed trustee. All of the company’s assets will have to be sold and the proceeds distributed to all creditors, beginning with the investors, then the unsecured creditors and lastly, the secured creditors whose credit is backed by collateral; this system of payment is known as absolute priority.

A business bankruptcy case takes time, is quite stressful and expensive; it’s worth the filing for, though, as there are businesses which have become better after the case. A bankruptcy case is tried only in a federal court; state courts have no jurisdiction to hear it.

Same-sex Divorce Attorneys in Texas

Same-sex marriages are now permitted in a few states; however, Texas isn’t one of them. Consequently, same-sex divorce in Texas is fraught with legal loopholes, manipulations and interpretations that further complicates an already complex proceeding.

This is not to say that same-sex divorce is not possible in Texas. Two instances of same-sex divorce, in 2009 and again in 2011, was allowed through the appeals court despite the intervention of the Texas Attorney-General who contested their legality under Texas state law.

However, it doesn’t end there. State intervention may be carried further up the judicial ladder to the Texas Supreme Court, and the decisions made there could establish a precedent for future divorce cases.

But not yet.

Under Texas law same-sex marriages are considered void, and have no legal or judicial standing in the state. Texas does not recognize the legality of such marriages, however the state does recognize the legality of a heterosexual marriage legalized in other states; provided there are no jurisdictional bars where it was contrived. Texas is strongly adament however, only when it comes to same-sex unions. Gay couples who legalized their union in states permitting same-sex marriages were never technically married in the eyes of Texas law, and in fact have no need to get a divorce.

But that does not settle the issue of how to dissolve what is considered a legal contract between two parties. Questions of community property, child custody and support, alimony and other matters that are routinely dealt with in heterosexual marriages continue to hold importance in same-sex partnerships, whether it is considered lawful in Texas or not. Same-sex divorce attorneys in Texas have the dubious distinction of being pioneers in this particular process.

If you or someone you know wants to get a same-sex divorce in Texas, it would be wise to go to divorce attorneys who are conversant with the intricacies of the divorce court of the state. At the very least, divorce attorneys may also serve as mediators or arbitrators in a divorce settlement outside of Texas courts to settle issues pertaining to a dissolution of marriage.

Car Accidents Caused by Drunk Driving

Statistical records on road tragedies in the US show that more than 5 million car accidents occur every year. More than half this number results in serious injuries either to the person who actually caused the accident or to the victim. There are various reasons as to why auto accidents occur and though some lie beyond the direct control of the driver, such as road defect or car part defect, which is the responsibility of the manufacturer, the main reason is still driver’s fault or error.

Drunk driving tops the list of reasons for driver-caused accidents, speeding and reckless driving register the second and third reasons, respectively. This is despite all the warnings, the educational programs and public awareness, the visibility of traffic enforcers and the penalties which have been made stiffer over the years.

People who choose to drive after drinking simply put innocents’ lives on the line; and the more a person drinks the likelihood of getting into an accident, even a fatal one, also increases. This is because any amount of alcohol will definitely affect or impair a person’s motor and mental skills. Impairment due to alcohol, by the way, is never based on the type of alcoholic beverage drank, but on the amount of alcohol consumed over a particular time period.

Thus, based on the usual way of measuring blood alcohol content (BAC) or blood ethanol concentration (the basis for measurement is a 160 lb. male whose liver is functioning normally) in a normal person, two to three bottles of beer consumed within the hour would register about 0.04% alcohol content in the blood. This means that, consuming four to five bottles, a person would give a BAC reading of about 0.08%, the allowed limit in all jurisdictions in the US.

Though people may have different levels of tolerance to alcohol, so that habitual drinkers may remain more sober than social drinkers after ingesting the same amount of alcohol, those who will be caught ought to bear in mind that BAC is based on the amount of alcohol in the blood; it does not measure sobriety and physical alertness. This means that even if a person is quite okay physically and mentally even after consuming a six-pack, the fact that he or she has more than 0.08% BAC, he will still be charged with driving under the influence (DUI), also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating while impaired (OWI), or operating a vehicle under the influence (OUI) depending on the jurisdiction, since his/her being intoxicated is a potential reason for serious car accidents wherein the lives of many others are put in danger.

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