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Can a Government Agency Be Sued Due to Its Negligence to Maintain Roads?

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When it comes to enforcing road safety rules and reminding drivers about the importance of observing traffic laws, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA has never fallen short in the performance of its duties. Regardless of the type of vehicle one drives the NHTSA has programs that are intended to provide whatever information he/she needs to know about road safety.

It cannot be denied, though, that millions of vehicular accidents are faults of drivers. There are stories that say that back in 1896, all the registered cars in the whole of the United States numbered only to just four; two eventually collided with each other. Now, regardless of whether this story is true or not, what counts is the underlying message: that drivers commit mistakes and that these mistakes are followed by accidents.

Records from the NHTSA show that the most common causes of road accidents, wherein drivers are at fault, are drunk-driving, driver error, speeding, driver distractions and reckless driving. However, there are also instances when the causes of accidents are outside of drivers’ control, such as a defective car or car parts, or poorly constructed or damaged road. In the case of defective vehicles, manufacturers can be held liable; in the case of poorly constructed or defective roads, though, can government agencies be sued and held accountable?

The majority of states and the federal government agencies cannot be sued due to their immunity from lawsuits. This immunity, when referencing federal and state governments, is called “sovereign immunity”; if applied to cities, counties and other smaller government agencies, it is called “governmental immunity.”

According to the website of the Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm, despite this immunity, many government agencies, under specific conditions, allow lawsuits to be filed against them. Gross negligence in maintaining a roadway, for instance, is one of the conditions that would allow a plaintiff to sue a government office.

The pain and suffering undergone by individuals who sustain severe injuries in car accidents are no small concerns for these can alter the life of the injured and his/her family. If the cause of the accident is defective road, however, proving government negligence can be a mountainous task.

Three Categories of Visitors Who can File a Premises Liability Lawsuit

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Slipping, tripping or falling is a very common accident in the US. Though the ones most prone to this type of accident are people aged 55 or older, it can happen to anyone and the results can be from bruises to the hand/s or arm/s to fractured bones or a spinal column injury.

Based on injury facts records of the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 8 million slip and fall accidents occur in the US every year. Some of their most common causes include: wet, oily, icy or slippery floors or surfaces; defective staircases; uneven, loose or broken floors, steps, sidewalks or stairs; unsecured rugs or carpets; and, hidden or tangled extension cords.

While one may immediately think that people who slip or fall should blame no one else except themselves (for being careless), in the mind of a Milwaukee accident attorney, the one at fault may actually be the owner of the property (a homeowner, the owner of a business establishment or a landlord) where the accident occurred.

Property owners, especially places that are open to the public, such as malls, hospitals, government offices, supermarkets, parking lots, playgrounds, swimming pool areas, restaurants, food courts, churches, etc., have the responsibility of keeping their premises free from risks of accident at all times, or they can face legal complaints, more specifically, premises liability lawsuit, from people who get injured while within their premise.

Premises liability is defined as a landowner’s accountability for certain injuries suffered by persons on his or her property where a defective or unsafe condition exists. More than just sustaining an injury due to slipping, tripping or falling, premises liability also includes in its scope injuries that are caused by falling objects, open excavations, electrocution, broken benches or chairs, and so forth.

Proof of ownership of property and breach of the duty of care or negligence on the part of the property owner in making sure that his or her property is kept from risks of accidents, are important factors for premises liability to apply. Thus, an injured person may have the legal right to seek compensation from the property owner whether he or she is:

  • An Invitee – a person (maybe a friend, a relative or a neighbor) who has a landowner’s expressed or implied permission to enter his or her property
  • A Licensee – a person, who has the landowner’s expressed or implied permission to enter the property, but who goes there for his or her own amusement or purpose, rather than for business purposes. Party guests, family friends, people who enter stores to ask about something or to retrieve something that they own, are examples of licensees
  • A Trespasser – a person who, actually, has no authority to be on the property.

The EB-2 or Employment-Based, Second Preference Visa

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The EB-2 visa is an employment-based, second preference visa issued to professionals holding an advanced degree or aliens of exceptional ability. There are three categories under the EB-2 visa; these categories and the criteria for eligibility set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for each are as follows:

1. EB-2(A) for foreign nationals with an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree. Criteria for eligibility includes:

  • A job offer from a potential US employer and the Labor Certification process which is to be complete by the same potential employer
  • An advanced degree or a baccalaureate degree followed by no less than 5 years progressive work experience in the specialty (the USCIS considers a baccalaureate degree plus at least 5 years progressive work experience another way of defining “advanced degree”)
  • Document, such an official academic record for a US advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree, or an official academic record for a US baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree
  • Form ETA-750 and labor certification approved by the Department of Labor
  • Certification from current or previous employers showing that the foreign national has, at least, five years progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in his/her chosen field

2. EB-2(B) for foreign nationals with exceptional ability in the field of science, arts, or business. Criteria for eligibility includes:

  • A job offer from a potential US employer and the Labor Certification process which is to be complete by the same potential employer
  • The foreign national must be able to show his/her exceptional ability in science, arts, or business (exceptional ability refers to a level of expertise that is above what is ordinarily encountered in the specified fields)
  • Form ETA-750 and labor certification approved by the Department of Labor
  • Proof of satisfaction of at least three of the following criteria:
    • official academic record , such as a diploma, a certificate, or any other similar award (in recognition of the exceptional ability) from a university, a college or other type of learning
      institution
    • Letters that will verify no less than 10 years of full-time experience of work
    • A license or certification showing permit to practice profession or occupation
    • Receipts proving remuneration for practice of exceptional ability
    • Membership in professional associations
    • Recognition from professional or business organizations, government entities, or peers, of
      achievements and significant contributions to chosen field
    • Any other comparable types of evidence of eligibility

3. The National Interest Waiver. This EB-2(C) visa is granted to foreign nationals who have either an exceptional ability or an advanced degree and who are requesting that labor certification be waived since their rendering of service in the US will substantially benefit the US’ national interest. Those applying for the National Interest Waiver (NIW) do not need a sponsoring employer or a job order. Thus, they may self-petition with the USCIS directly using Form I-140, or Petition for Alien Worker.

Besides the need to prove that working permanently in the US will benefit the nation, they will also need to satisfy at least three of the criteria mentioned above (under 2.c).

Having acquired an advanced degree or its equivalent may be quite easy to prove; however, immigration lawyers agree that having an exceptional ability or an advanced degree and proving that being equipped with any of these would be beneficial to the US entails greater challenge. The website of the AmLaw Group says that the EB-2 visa can be a perfect opportunity for highly skilled aliens and aliens with an advanced degree to have permanent residency in the US; but still better than this is the opportunity for these second preference visa applicants’ wives and children (who are unmarried and below 21 years old) to apply for a green card as well.

The benefits of an EB-2 visa are just too good to allow these to slip through one’s fingers, if only due to mistakes, lack of the proper documents to be presented or wrong type of visa to apply for. Sure, one can make an appeal if ever his/her application were denied, but wouldn’t a denial and its consequences, which include longer additional waiting time and another set of fees to be paid, have been avoided had a highly-qualified immigration lawyer been consulted at the very start of the application process?

What is the Difference between Annulment and Divorce?

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Sometimes, married couples end up facing difficult issues that have become impossible to resolve. These couples often come to a decision and agree that they have to go their separate ways. When this happens, a couple can consider a few legal options to officially end their marriage. One option is going through a divorce. Another is filing for an annulment.

According to the website of the Arenson Law Group, PC divorce attorneys in Cedar Rapids IA, an annulment is generally a legal procedure that allows a marriage to be declared null and void. In other words, couples who file for an annulment are found as if they have never been married after the process is over and can legally declare their civil status as “single”. In comparison, a person who went through divorce proceedings will have to identify as “divorced”. The main reason most couples choose this option is because of religions considerations. There are some religions, like Roman Catholicism, that prohibit sanctioning divorce or remarrying. Couples can obtain an annulment within their own religious institutions, but they will also need to undergo the civil procedure in court in order for their marriage to be absolved in the eyes of the law.

Because an annulment declares a couple’s marriage to basically be without value or effect, being granted a positive decision by the court will require notable circumstances. In particular, most states in the United States grant annulments in cases that involve fraud or misrepresentation, if a spouse had been forced into marriage, and if the marriage involved incest, bigamy, or a spouse that was underage at the time of the wedding. Courts also allow annulments for cases where one or both spouses had not been in sound mental capacity during the wedding—like if they were impaired by alcohol or drugs. Marriages that have not been consummated can also be dissolved through annulment, especially if the other spouse had not been made aware of the other’s inability to have sexual intercourse.

Considering these scenarios, it’s easy to see that an annulment might not be the best choice for most couples looking to end their marriage. For others, divorce seems to be a more suitable and accessible option. You can contact a qualified divorce lawyer in your area to learn more about the best solution for your given situation.

Benefits of Marriage

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It has long been known that marriage is generally good for your health, but are the benefits of marriage the same for both men and women? Apparently not, as men and women may not experience the same or equal benefits of being in a marriage – men report having more satisfactory sex lives after getting married, while women’s risk of depression decreases after getting hitched, among other benefits. But with the increasing rates of divorce in the nation, is marriage the only way to get these types of benefits?

According to various researchers and studies made, such health benefits may not necessarily have to be exclusive to married couples: it may just simply be a matter of level of mutual attachment and social support. Whether married or not, the benefits of being in a relations can be enjoyed by both partners committed to each other in a long-term relationship. Nevertheless, being married or being in a long-term relationship still carries more weight than simply being single. One of the main health benefits that come with being married is having longer life span; it is a great way to lower the risks of fatal accidents and other preventable disasters. It also lowers risks of serious diseases, possibly due to positive influences on stress, vices, and weight. Another benefit is the physical intimacy – particularly in men – reporting of being more emotionally satisfied compared to those who are unmarried or does not have a partner. Married women, on the other hand, have lower risk of depression, as it reduces the danger of developing or intensifying mental health issues.

Meanwhile, both men and women benefit from financial stability during marriage. Money and financial issues is just among the main reason for divorce. According to the website of Marshal & Taylor PLLC, financial problems can greatly affect divorce proceedings as they can complicate the dividing of debts, assets and properties and cause tension between spouses. Such issues however, can be prevented through a pre-nuptial agreement before getting married.

Marriage is not just an easy decision to live with someone; the nature of marriage and long-term relationships as time changes have greatly impacted the health benefits of both partners, and with gender roles starting to dissolve both men and women may soon experience that same and equal benefits of marriage.

Xarelto: Its Greatest Benefits and Worst Threats

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Rivaroxaban is a popular anti-coagulant drug that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2011 for people suffering from: atrial fibrillation (an irregularity in heart beat); deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also known as deep venous thrombosis, which refers to the formation of blood clots (or thrombus) in deep veins, mainly in the legs; and, pulmonary embolism, which is blood clot in the lungs. It is mainly intended to prevent harmful blood clots from forming, avoid chances of blood clots from recurring and reduce possible risks of stroke in people who have just undergone surgery for total hip replacement or knee replacement. In the US, and in some other countries, Rivaroxaban is sold under the generic name Xarelto and it is jointly produced by Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary) and Bayer Health Care.

Xarelto is a new generation blood thinner that is formulated to act as a direct thrombin inhibitor (DTI), to block thrombin from ever forming (thrombin are blood plasma enzymes that cause the blood to clot). Like Pradaxa, another DTI that was approved by the FDA in 2010 and which Xarelto was intended to compete against, Xarelto has been highly commended by pharmaceutical companies and doctors due to its formulation that no longer necessitates frequent testing of blood or diet and exercise monitoring which Warfarin, the anticoagulant drug that has dominated the market since 1954, requires.

Unlike Pradaxa, however, which directly blocks the production of thrombin, Xarelto directly attacks and inhibits the production of Factor Xa, the protein necessary in thrombin formation. Furthermore, Xarelto has been proven as very effective in the:

  • Reduction of risks of stroke in non-valvular atrial fibulation
  • Treatment of pulmonary embolism (PE) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Prevention of DVT following a knee replacement or hip replacement surgery
  • Reduction of DVT and PE recurrence

Despite its effectivity, Xarelto was discovered as not without adverse effects, some of which even fatal, thus, enough reason for the FDA to mandate a black box warning label to the drug’s packaging. One agency that keeps track of problematic or defective drugs is the Institution for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), a nonprofit consumer watchdog organization. Based on ISMP data Xarelto’s adverse effects, which thousands of patients have already complained of, include: internal bleeding (including bleeding in the abdomen, intestines and rectum); blood clots; epidural or spinal hematomas (a condition wherein blood collects outside the blood vessels in the spinal cord area – this increases the risk of permanent paralysis); brain hemorrhaging; uncontrollable bleeding (to which there is no known remedy); blood in the urine and/or stool; severe nosebleeds; vomiting of, and coughing up, blood; stroke; and, risk of heart problems following discontinuation.

Millions of patients had already been prescribed with Xarelto despite its being new in the market. In fact, currently, Xarelto is the number one blood thinning medication in the US. But (in 2012) even before topping market sales (where blood thinning drugs are concerned) about 2081 serious adverse events (151 of these were fatal) had already been reported to the FDA.

It is hard to say exactly how many lawsuits have already been filed against the manufacturers of Xarelto as the lawsuits are based on different issues, like wrongful death, brain hemorrhaging, uncontrolled bleeding, and so forth. One thing is sure, though, that is, if you or anyone in your family or anyone you know is gravely suffering from any of the adverse effects caused by Xarelto, then it may be a good idea to contact the Xarelto lawsuit lawyers at the National Injury Law Center.

How You Can Find Reliable Legal Advice

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There are many reasons you may need to hire and work with a lawyer. No matter what the reason, there are some helpful tips you can use during your time with a law professional. The advice that follows will help you when you find yourself in need of a lawyer.

Don’t choose the very first lawyer you find. Instead, research several attorneys to find the one best suited for your case. You can do this by visiting websites, like William Kherkher’s. Keep asking other people so that you can learn more information concerning certain lawyers.

You have to be able to easily get in contact with your lawyer. Many people complain about not having a lawyer who is easily reachable. This can lead to a lot of issues, not the least of which is the fact that you will wonder if you are getting adequate service or not.

Ask your friends and family for referrals if you are looking for a great lawyer. Others that have had legal issues know how critical a good lawyer can be and will be best able to lead you in the right direction. Get a few recommendations and then do your own research from there.

Before beginning your research, seek the advice of the people you know. When you speak with loved ones, you can get good suggestions and favorable rates. This can really save you a lot of stress and money down the road.

When choosing a lawyer, research their reputation thoroughly. Check with your local bar association, and read online reviews of lawyers. These can help you decide whether or not a particular lawyer is someone you can trust. This will save you a lot of money, aggravation and time, later on.

As you can see, it’s not too hard to find and deal with a lawyer once you have more knowledge. The tips shared here are a good starting off point. Use what you learned and your time with a lawyer can be time well spent in order to win your case.

Houston-Area Woman Convicted of DUI

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A Fort Bend woman was convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) on June 21 after a 2011 incident in which she drove across several lanes of traffic and nearly hit a police officer. The jury came to its verdict against the 24-year-old Yesenia Hernandez after Police Lt. Aaron Slater and officer Michael Walden testified about the accident.

Slater stated that Hernandez, after swerving across traffic and narrowly missing his car,  hit a curb and then failed to pull over for several blocks after Slater turned on his flashing lights. Both officers noted her “confused and disoriented nature” and said she failed to complete a sobriety test. Hernandez later admitted to having consumed “five regular size beers, maybe more.”

Hernandez’s sentence sits at one year of probation and a $750 fine, as well as 60 hours of community service. Hernandez will also be required to take a DWI education class and to attend a Victim Impact Panel to hear stories from victims of intoxication crimes.

Being convicted of DUI comes with serious penalties, including minimum jail time, fines and penalties, and license suspension from 90 to 365 days for the first offense and up to two years for the second and third offenses. In addition, Texas’s “implied consent” law requires anyone arrested for DUI to take a chemical test–if they refuse, an automatic license suspension for at least 90 days can be enacted, according to the website of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter.

In some instances, Texas police departments are able to mandate what are referred to as “no-refusal weekends.” Typically occurring around holidays where it is expected that many people will drink heavily and drive, these no-refusal periods allow officers to legally take blood from those who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer. No-refusal periods are commonly put into effect around days like the Super Bowl or Memorial Day, for example.

If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, it is important to contact a legal professional. An attorney who specializes in DUI cases can help lessen the penalties and protect your rights during the legal process.

“Keyhole” Surgery Leads to Surgical Injuries

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Minimally invasive surgical methods, or keyhole surgeries, are the preferred ones when confronted with the need for a procedure, mostly because healing times are faster and there is a lower risk of excessive blood loss. Laparoscopy, which uses cameras inserted into small incisions in the abdomen, was one of the earliest and most popular of these methods, and it is still being used today.

A relatively recent entrant in the field which has grabbed a substantial share in the market since its introduction 13 years ago is the da Vinci Surgical System, which is a robot-assisted surgical method. Recent events, however, has served to somewhat tarnish the reputation of the metallic automaton in the field of surgical instruments.

At least 70 deaths have been directly linked to the use of the da Vinci robot, landing its manufacturer Intuitive Surgical Inc. in legal hot water and affecting its standing in the market. More adverse events have been reported, and some studies say underreported with the machine’s use, prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch an investigation to determine the extent to which the da Vinci robot may be said to have directly caused unnecessary surgical injuries. And now, Intuitive itself has issued a statement regarding defects in certain components of the system which may inadvertently cause even more damage to the patients.

Intuitive sent Urgent Medical Device Notification in May 2013 to those who purchased the da Vinci system regarding potential problems with the Monopolar Curved Scissors (MCS), commonly called the Hot Shears. Micro-cracks along the shaft that developed when the shears were reprocessed, maintenance performed on all instruments periodically after a certain number of procedures done. These micro-cracks may allow electric current to “arc” from the instrument to living tissue, possibly causing burns and tissue damage. Less than a year ago, the tips of the scissors had been recalled, but Intuitive does not confirm that these defects caused injury to any patient.

The initiatives were classified as part of the company’s efforts to improve the products, and had nothing to do with the surgical injury lawsuits already filed against it. Taken one by one, these adverse events may be said to be part and parcel of the risks associated with surgery, but taken together, they represent a serious problem with the technology.

Even After Divorce It is Always Your Kids You Ought to Worry About

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Research shows that only a small percentage of children experience serious problems in the event of divorce; it does not, however, show how much fear, confusion and uncertainty these children actually suffer. Though parents suffer before and through the divorce process, it is really the children who carry the brunt of the separation.

A number of children would even think that they are the cause of conflict and separation, while other would take the responsibility of trying to bring their parents back together, even if it would mean sacrificing themselves. Obviously, divorcing parents always leave their children out of whatever issue or conflict they have with each other, so that by the time the children become aware of the situation, it is already too late.

Children always look to adults to help them make sense of the world. This is why when conflict and anger overtake the values they have been taught to live, they begin to misunderstand things (as well as get misunderstood) and rebel. From the very start, when parents begin to lose the love and respect that bind them together, parents ought to find how to tell their children what is happening, what their involvement is in the whole thing, how it might affect them and what will happen to them – all these are to prevent whatever misdirection the children may experience.

WebMD Magazine published an article on the “Top 5 Mistakes Divorced Parents Make”; these are actually pointers M. Gary Neuman, an expert on family and divorce, offers exes:

  • Never make your children your messenger – asking your children to relay your message to your ex-spouse would only certainly cause them further stress
  • Don’t make your child your therapist – making your child your cohort by sharing with him/her your anger towards your ex or the details of the divorce may only do more harm than damage.
  • Try to “get” your kid – never impose your thoughts or what you want on your kid. Divorce can turn a child’s world upside down; listen to him/her more but without telling him/her what to think.
  • Avoid the third degree – make your child’s weekend with your spouse a comfortable experience.
  • Repair the damage you’ve already done – saying ‘sorry’ to your kids (as they reach their teen years) for whatever mistake you’ve done that led to the divorce is important, as well as telling them that you are changed man and will never let mistakes get in the way again.

While these aren’t the only ways to help smooth over the process of divorce for your children, they are a good place to begin.

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