Protecting the Innocent

A lot of people have only the vaguest idea of how criminal law works, and in general that’s a good thing because it means they have never run into trouble. The bad thing is that because of that ignorance, they could be unwittingly tricked into waiving their rights or even convicted of a crime they did not commit.

“Innocent until proven guilty” does not mean that the innocent can always prove innocence. If that were true, there would not be organizations such as the Innocence Project which takes on cases of what they are convinced are the wrongfully convicted. Technically, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor, but the innocent defendant should know that not everything is as it appears to be, and enough circumstantial evidence can convict an innocent person.

Many cases are based on circumstantial evidence that can be construed to mean one thing or the other, and can lead to a false construction of a crime. There are instances when an eye witness or an expert makes a mistake; they are human after all. As pointed out by Ian Inglis on his website, it can be struggle for a defendant to challenge these aspects of the case. Simply maintaining their innocence is not enough to convince a jury to acquit if the circumstantial evidence is compelling enough, and reasonable doubt is not introduced into the trial.

The innocent defendant also has a tendency to believe that cooperating with law enforcement shows that they have “nothing to hide” but the fact is police interrogators will do anything short of physical harm to get a confession. They work hard to break down a person’s normal defenses if they strongly believe that they have a viable suspect in custody. While this may work with a guilty person, it unfortunately works against an innocent person just as well.

The criminal defense lawyer is not there to get the guilty off the hook; they are there to protect the rights of the defendant and to ensure that they aren’t bullied into a conviction. Guilty or innocent, when faced with a criminal charge, it is important to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer before one word comes out of your mouth.

An Overview of Asbestos in the United States

Asbestos is one of the many minerals used in industrial products, mainly because of it is resistant to fire, heat, and chemicals and provides good insulation from electricity. Because of these characteristics, asbestos has been used commercially since the early 1800’s, with its popularity hitting its highest during World War II. The ban for asbestos use, however, started at 1970’s when US Consumer Product Safety Commission decided to stop the use as it posed health dangers: it gets released to the surroundings when used.

Asbestos is a well-known health hazard, and because of this OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) have been monitoring and regulating its use and manufacturing. Asbestos fibers are very small to be seen by the naked eye, making it more difficult to know if you are being exposed or not. Heavy and long exposure to asbestos has been linked lung cancer and other diseases such as mesothlioma, asbestosis, and other forms of cancer in the gastrointestinal and colorectal areas.

Classified as a carcinogen (a cause of cancer), OSHA has made some safety rules in order to lower the risks of health complications for workers. Employers and workers are both required to follow and adhere to the necessities such as having regulated areas, strict work practices, providing proper personal equipment and regular medical check-ups. This is to limit worker’s exposure and ensure their health and safety while working with asbestos.

What are Premarital Agreements?

Premarital agreements, also popularly called prenuptial agreements or prenups, is an agreement between two people before marriage. According to the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C. website, premarital agreements are a necessary evil in some cases where finances may be a sensitive area. In California, premarital agreements are “enforceable without consideration” subject to the rules set in Family Code Section 1610-1617.

Under California law, a premarital agreement has to be in writing, signed by both parties and has an effective date the same as the official date of marriage. The agreement may include the rights and obligations of each party regarding:

  • Real property, including disposition in the event of a divorce or death
  • Other property and assets, including disposition in the event of a divorce or death
  • Life insurance policies
  • Child and spousal support

A premarital agreement may be revoked or amended through a written agreement by both spouses and is likewise “enforceable without consideration.” A premarital agreement may become unenforceable if:

  • The signature of one spouse was obtained under duress, undue influence or fraud
  • Reasonable and full disclosure of property and financial obligations were not supplied by one party
  • Independent legal counsel was not sought regarding the terms of the agreement because the time period between the presentation of the agreement and signing was less than 7 days
  • One party did not fully understand the terms and consequences of the agreement

A premarital agreement is an invaluable legal instrument that will protect the rights and properties of both spouses if it is executed fairly, reasonably and with full disclosure. Like with any other legally binding contract, however, it is advisable to have a lawyer go over a premarital agreement prior to signing to ensure there is full understanding of its consequences for both parties. A lawyer would also be able to make any changes to the agreement which will make it a more acceptable legal protective instrument.

Advantages of having SR-22

Driving under the influence (of drugs, alcohol, or medication) and being caught can have severe fines and jail time, mainly because it is considered a criminal offence is almost all states in the US. Along with the penalties, the driver’s license can also be suspended and revoked for a significant amount of time, which could spell hard times commuting on public transportation.

According to car accident lawyers at Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., one option of reversing your revoked or suspended license is to file for an SR-22 bond. There are many insurance companies that often provide SR-22 bonds which allows their clients’ driver’s license reinstated sooner than the necessary time appointed by the court. This could be very beneficial especially if the client uses their vehicles every day.

Having an SR-22 means you have the financial capability to cover for possible expenses should an accident occur. An SR-22 is a high-risk insurance policy allowing problem drivers minimum insurance requirements. It is actually a protection for other motorists and people who could be at risk from the problem driver, allowing them to collect compensation straight from the insurance company.

A lot of states permit problem drivers to have their licenses reinstated provided they establish they are financially responsible through their SR-22 bonds. Having an SR-22 bond can also be the only way many problem drivers can have their licenses reinstated, and it can be troublesome because there are instances where licenses are revoked permanently, although many states can still reconsider their decisions. It may be a bit hard on pocket, but having an SR-22 can be the only way a revoked or suspended driver’s license will be reinstated.

So long as you keep paying your premiums, you can still keep your driver’s license using the SR-22 bond. Being offered to provide an SR-22 bond can be viewed as a second chance, because without this option it can mean losing your license altogether.

DUII Diversion Eligibility

Being caught driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) can put you in a very compromising situation: this offence can put a red mark on your records that can haunt you for a very long time. Fortunately, in the state of Oregon there is an option to enroll in a Diversion Program. Because a DUII is considered as a Class A misdemeanor offence, choosing the Diversion Program instead of fines, possible suspension, jail time, community work or other assessments would be a better and more rewarding option.

A DUII Diversion is an option that can get DUII offenders the chance to have their case dismissed through successfully completing the program requirements. It should be noted that this option is only available for first time offenders, and not everyone can avail of this option. In order to participate in the program, the necessary requirements are complete, you have appeared on the scheduled first date on court (or if the court finds an acceptable excuse for your absence), and you have filed the petition with the court within thirty (30) days after the first court appearance. To qualify for the Diversion Program, these requirements should be met:

  1. You have never had any conviction on a DUII arrest in Oregon or any other places.
  2. You are not in any DUII Diversion Program or any alcohol or drug rehabilitation program in Oregon or any other place.
  3. All the requirements in the Petitioner Sworn Statement on Eligibility are met.
  4. You have not given any “guilty” plea or “no contest” to the present DUII charges, or if there has already been a “guilty” plea, the trial has not yet begun.
  5. You have a clean, 15-year record devoid of any vehicular charges (including, but not limited to negligent assault or manslaughter).

The Oregon Diversion Program is not easy: it takes a lot of work to complete the program and have the case dismissed. Pleading guilty is necessary in order to enter the Diversion Program, therefore not being able to complete it can have repercussions: some people think all the effort is worth it while some don’t. It takes about a year to complete the program, and then the case will be dismissed.

Seeking Help after a Dog Attack

Since the majority of domestic pets are harmless and docile, it would probably surprise most people that dog bites and dog attacks are extremely common occurrences. Near the end of August a Chesterfield, Virginia boy was attacked by a bulldog. The police declined to comment on the cause of the attack due to the ongoing investigation into the case. The owner claimed that the dog had never previously displayed aggressive behavior. In even more recent news, two children from Ladson, South Carolina encountered an unleashed dog on a playground. The dog, initially walking alongside his owner, ran over and attacked the children. Though they sustained lacerations and some bruising, the children are in good condition.

Dog attacks can happen as a result of numerous factors. Sometimes a dog will lash out in attempts to protect its owner or itself. Sometimes a dog is poorly trained and emotionally unstable if it has been raised by an abusive or violent owner. One factor is constant though, dogs respond to the energy of people or animals around them. Remaining calm and still is the most effective ways to handle a dog attack. This is why children are often, unfortunately, the target of dog attacks. Since a primal response to aggression is to panic and run, many children react by becoming frantic and attempt to run away. This causes the animal to give chase and attack. It’s important to teach children to be brave and not run away from dogs that are being scary.

The most common injuries that occur as a result of dog attacks are scarring, lacerations, broken bones, and disfigurement. In addition to being at higher risk for attacks, children also risk sustaining more severe injuries than adults since their bone density and muscle fiber is still developing. Luckily, young bodies are highly resilient and recovery time from injuries is substantially faster than adult recovery time.

Being attacked by a dog can result in an expensive hospital trip. A Massachusetts personal injury lawyer can help victims of dog aggression seek compensation from the owner of the dog who injured them.

Energy Drinks in the Personal Injury Spotlight

The cases are ongoing, but there has been a growing concern regarding the health effects of certain energy drinks on children and young adults, who are among the most frequent consumer of the product. Energy drink manufacturers are being criticized for marketing their products to this segment of the population knowing it can do them harm. According to a Fort Worth injury lawyer from The Benton Law Firm, experiences like this could potentially lead to a wrongful death lawsuit.

Monster Energy Drink in particular is the subject of at least two recent wrongful death lawsuits in which a 14-year-old girl and 19-year-old man died of cardiac arrest after consuming copious amounts of the drink. The manufacturer of the energy drink Monster Beverage Corporation maintains that when taken responsibly, the product is harmless even for children. However, the large doses of caffeine as well as other stimulants present in 2 ounces of Monster makes this a debatable point. One can of Monster is equivalent to 7 cups of coffee, and it is noteworthy there were in excess of 20,000 energy drink-related emergency hospitalizations in 2011.

The problem with bring a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of an energy drink is that there are no regulations in place requiring them to list the amount of ingredients because they are classified as supplements. However, the way the product is marketed by Monster in combination with its potency makes it highly dangerous for the youth and the young with prolonged and regular use.

If you or a family member has sustained adverse health effects or death from the consumption of energy drinks, the time has come to make the manufacturers accountable. They should cease marketing their products to the young when their products are labeled as not recommended for them. Failure to do so is a breach of their duty of care to their consumers. Consult with a personal injury lawyer with the experience and resources to help you build your case.

Using Bluetooth Headsets to Prevent Car Accidents

The growing use of mobile phones while driving has come to a point where it poses a considerable danger for everyone on the road. The finger has been constantly pointed at holding the phone while driving as a cause of distracted driving. As a response, there have been some initiatives for the use of hands free technology such as a Bluetooth headset while driving to eliminate the need for drivers to hold the phone to carry on a conversation. But it is doubtful whether using a Bluetooth headset to prevent car accidents is really the ideal solution to the problem of distracted driving. Distraction is a cognitive aspect rather than a mechanical one of driving. Reaching for the radio button, eating or fumbling with a cell phone are actions that do require a momentary shift of attention from the road.

However, studies show that engaging in a conversation over a mobile phone poses the greater danger because it is more prolonged. It impairs the ability of the driver to observe safety signs and react to situations in a timely manner almost as much as being inebriated. While a Bluetooth headset may keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, the mind is far and away, especially when the parties are fully participating. As a result, more car accidents occur due to cell phone conversations rather than cell phone use per se. So, even if a driver is using a hands-free device or Bluetooth headset, there is still a chance they will make a driving error and cause harm to other motorists.

Car accidents resulting from cell phone use in general are considered driver recklessness, and may be an actionable case. According to the website of Appleton-based Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, a car accident caused by distracted driving can plunge everyone involved in a complex legal situation. If you or a member of your family has been injured because the driver was using the cell phone, you should consult with a car accident attorney to assess your case.

Financial Problems from Hospital Bills

They say getting sick is worse than being robbed. At least when one is robbed, only the possessions and funds you already have get taken. When one gets seriously sick, the situation is akin to a bottomless well into which all one’s resources are poured in with no end in sight. The irony of this is both situations – getting sick and being robbed – are not always but most often preventable.

It could be argued that with the right financial planning, getting sick should not be too much of a problem. After all, everybody gets sick at some point, so it would just be prudent to have a contingency for when the time comes, such as health insurance. However, not everyone is so far-seeing, or some people simply cannot afford to pay for a what-if when funds are not enough to even cover the need-now. When one gets sick or is involved in an accident, therefore, it can be tough trying to find a way to make ends meet.

When one is seriously ill or injured, having financial problems from hospital bills is to be expected. But if a bad situation is made even worse because of hospital negligence, the financial burden can just be too much to handle. Hospital negligence is in general the failure to provide reasonable care and ensure the adequate safety of the patient while undergoing treatment. It is a fortunate thing that in the US, this can be an actionable case. It is then possible for the victim of someone’s recklessness, negligence or error to recover damages for the consequences of the wrongful act.

However, it should be noted that filing a case against a hospital for personal injury can be a tricky situation. Hospitals usually retain lawyers for just such contingencies, so it would be smart for a would-be plaintiff to consult with another lawyer who knows how to handle cases involving hospital negligence.

Defining Product Liability Damages under Personal Injury Law

Personal injury is just one of the aspects of product liability, although it is often used to refer to how a product defect has adversely affected the plaintiff. The term “damages” is also widely used in civil tort cases but most people only have a vague idea of what it is.

There are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive. According to the website of law firm Ravid & Associates, P.C. in Detroit, compensatory damages refer to actual costs to the plaintiff as a result of the product defect such as medical expenses, property repair or replacement, loss of income and disability expenditure. Punitive damages, as the term implies, is a type of punishment for the defendant for causing injury in the first place, and includes loss of consortium as well as the ever-popular pain and suffering.

Damages are always expressed in financial terms, and it is determined based on a set of factors that has been established from previous cases. Instances where permanent lifestyle changes become necessary complicates a claim. Some states may have a cap on punitive damages, and some may not allow it under certain scenarios. Habush Habush & Rottier S.C.® would know these differences and be able to communicate them with you. They could also help you determine whether or not your claim is valid.

Determining what would essentially be “payment” to alleviate whatever suffering and losses that accrued to a particular plaintiff because of a defendant’s wrongful act is not always easy. In most cases, punitive damages are much more subjective because in general a jury decides on fair value for something non-quantifiable such as pain and suffering. In contrast, compensatory damages are based on economic losses that can be quantified, such as medical bills. In consequence, punitive damages fluctuate wildly depending on the type of jury, and are the source of much debate on appeal.

It is in the best interest of the plaintiff that the amount of damages is not disputed because it means a quicker process. It is therefore essential that the lawyer chosen has experience in handling personal injury cases in the pertinent state because he or she would know what amount and type of damages is reasonable and unlikely to be challenged.