Report Concludes Majority of Construction Accidents is Preventable

The construction industry is inherently risky business, which is why there are strict safety rules and regulations that are in place. This is especially important in a city like New York, where there are always numerous construction projects ongoing. Unfortunately, making the rules and enforcing them are two different matters.

A report was submitted by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) based on data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on workplace accidents in New York for 2012. There were 196 work-related fatalities for that year, and construction workers accounted for 19% of these deaths, and 19 people in this category were immigrant workers.

The causes of these accidents were not part of the data, but a review of the construction site inspections from 2010 to 2012 showed that at least one safety violation was observed in two-thirds of the sites visited. This does not include construction sites that the short-staffed OSHA did not manage to inspect within that period. It is estimated that the OSHA will only be able to do a complete inspection of all construction sites in New York in 103 years at current staffing rates.

This failure to enforce safety regulations may be the reason why construction site owners and managers continue to ignore them in the interest of lowering costs. It is only when something happens and a New York City construction accident lawyer comes knocking that the owners sit up and take notice, but by then it is too late for at least one worker.

This is not to say that preventable construction site accidents are confined to big cities such as New York City. Construction accidents due to negligence can and does happen in smaller cities as well such as Appleton in Wisconsin, but it is undeniable that an Appleton personal injury lawyer would not have as heavy a workload as a counterpart in New York City. Despite the infrequency, however, the devastation for the victim and the family is just as bad.

If you have been seriously injured or a family member was killed in a preventable construction accident in New York City or Appleton, you have the right to at least get compensation for your financial and other losses as well as your pain and suffering. Consult with an experienced construction accident or personal injury lawyer in your city and find out your legal options.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions in North Carolina

When you are in dire financial straits, Chapter 7 bankruptcy could be the only way out of an ever-deepening and increasingly frightening hole. According to the website of a Raleigh Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in North Carolina, it is the most common type of private bankruptcy filed because it allows you to discharge or eliminate many debts through liquidation of your assets. Best of all, it allows you to keep certain assets from being drawn in to discharge debts by claiming exemptions.

Under a Chapter 7 filing, the bankruptcy court assigns a trustee to oversee the assets of the debtor to commence liquidation. However, there are state-specific exemptions to what the trustee can legitimately include in the asset collection. There are also federal exemptions for Chapter 7, but depending on the sate, the debtor may not have the choice to use it over state exemptions. That is the case in North Carolina. Even if federal exemptions are more favorable to a particular debtor, they have to follow state laws. This can be good, because the state law also allows married couples to “double” their exemptions by each claiming for full exemptions under the law.

In North Carolina, the exemptions include:

  • Primary residence up to $35,000 equity, $60,000 if debtor is over 65 years old or the property is held under a joint tenancy or by the entirety with right of survivorship with the debtor’s spouse deceased
  • Burial plots up to $35,000 equity
  • One motor vehicle up to $3,500 value except where the vehicle was purchased within 90 days of filing for bankruptcy
  • Clothing, furniture, appliances, books, and other personal property up to $5,000 with additional $1,000 for each dependent not to exceed $4,000 except where the property was purchased within 90 days of filing for bankruptcy
  • Damages awarded in a personal injury or wrongful death suit with certain exceptions
  • College savings accounts up to $25,000 not including contributions made within the 12 months prior to filing for bankruptcy
  • Health aids
  • Tools and implements of trade up to $2,000 except those purchased within 90 days of filing for bankruptcy
  • Unpaid wages earned 60 days prior to filing for bankruptcy
  • Tax-exempt retirement accounts, IRAs and Roth IRAs
  • Pension benefits of rescue workers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, legislators, teachers, and state, municipal, city, and county employees
  • Compensation benefits for unemployment, work-related injuries, victims of crime, aid for the blind, and families with dependent children

If you plan to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you need to be fully aware of state laws that govern it to avoid problems and missed opportunities. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer in your state to maximize your benefits under the law.

Update on Car Accidents due to GM Faulty Ignition Switch

It appears that the worst news can get even worse. Recent analysis of car accidents between 2003 and 2010 indicate that the original 13 deaths conceded by General Motors (GM) as a direct result of a faulty ignition switch assembly it installed in its vehicles as far back as 2002 is only the tip of the iceberg.

An independent analysis by Reuters journalists of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data for that 7-year period point to the possibility of at least 74 deaths from car accidents may be directly attributed to the defective ignition switch. While this does not mean that there is conclusive proof of this possibility, the mechanisms of the accidents were consistent with the fatal crashes described by GM. GM cars were also overrepresented in the number of vehicular accidents that occurred during that period compared to other car brands.

GM has so far issued 45 recalls of its vehicles for the pesky ignition switch assembly which any San Antonio car accident lawyer would claim that the beleaguered automaker knew from the beginning to be substandard but used anyway. The total number of vehicles recalled to date exceed 39 million, a staggering number any which way one looks.

The faulty ignition switch has a tendency to move out of the “run” position, which in turn affects the brake and steering mechanisms, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. At the same time, the position change turns off the crash sensor of the airbag, keeping it from deploying when a crash occurs, increasing the risk of serious injury or death to the driver and passengers.

There have been in excess of 650 claims against GM’s settlement program that addresses legitimate cases of injuries or deaths resulting from the failure of the airbags in the defective cars to deploy. Cases were the airbags did deploy will not be eligible for the program, but compensation may still be sought through civil litigation. If you live in Texas and suffered serious injury because of the faulty ignition switch in your GM car, a Waco personal injury lawyer would be able to advice you about your legal options.

When Selling Your Mineral Rights is a Good Idea

Your home may be your castle, but there are circumstances when you may want to think about selling off some of your land without reducing it an iota. You can do this by selling what’s under your land, also known as mineral rights.

Most people don’t think about what they don’t see, but you can be sure that speculators and developers think of nothing else, especially for land in areas known to have proven mineral and gas deposits. They will definitely be interested in leasing or buying mineral rights in likely areas, and you can do that safely through reputable mineral rights selling sites such as www.auctionmineralrights.com.

Thinking you may strike oil on your own? Sure, if you have the equipment and expertise you need, and you don’t mind pouring money down the drain if your hunch is wrong, wrong, wrong! Besides, your land may be rich in other things such as coal, natural gas, and a host of other valuable minerals that you are not likely to be an expert at. You could be missing out on a golden opportunity to get funds for business ventures you do know something about and have a better chance of being successful at than dabbling in mining.

Selling you mineral rights is not a decision to be made lightly, however. When you sell your mineral rights, you are also ceding rights to the buyer to access the minerals by appropriating a portion of your land. This could mean a major disruption in your life even though you technically still own the land they are using for their equipment and storage buildings. Until such time as the deposits are found and exhausted, or you decide to sell lock, stock and barrel, you will have to put up with having a mining or oil drilling crew literally at your doorstep. If you have doubts about selling your mineral rights, you may consider leasing it out, but unless they strike the mother lode, don’t expect big bucks any time soon.

Litigation for Defective Products: DePuy Hip Devices

An implanted medical device that fails prematurely can result in a lot of complications such as persistent pain, tissue damage, and additional operations to first remove and then to re-implant a replacement device. This is what happened to thousands of hip replacement patients that were implanted with the ASR and Pinnacle models from DePuy Orthopedics which is part of a group of companies under Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

DePuy and J&J are being held financially accountable for present and future medical expenses related to the defective products because claimants alleged that the manufacturer knew about the problems of the device but did not share it with the public. Plaintiffs state that if they or their doctors had known about the defects of the implants, they would have chosen another product and avoided the painful repercussions.

The first Depuy lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit did so on June 15, 2010, and since then, more than 12,000 people have followed suit. Many have been settled, while others were certified to be eligible for multi-district litigation (MDL), particularly the more than 8,500 people who filed in Ohio (MDL 2197) for defective ASR models, and which J&J agreed to settle for a total reported $4 billion if approved by the court. The latest development has been the ordered transfer of the unsettled cases to the Northern District of Ohio.

Claims for defects in the Pinnacle model, in the meantime, has also been transferred to Texas for consolidation (MDL 2244) and the first bellwether trials are set for September 2014. If you have suffered injury from your own defective Pinnacle hip implant, it is not too late to get compensation. If you are in Austin and wish to be included in the list of plaintiffs, consult with an Austin personal injury lawyer to determine if you are eligible. If you have an ASR model instead, you may want to check out a DePuy lawyer in New Jersey or Maryland, where more than 650 ASR cases are still pending.

Criminal Defense for Drug Possession

Drug possession is a crime in all states, but the specifics may differ from state to state. In Illinois, for example, the criminalization of the drug possession is embodied under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. In Texas it is, predictably, the Texas Controlled Substances Act, both of which more or less mimic the federal Controlled Substances Act. In Illinois, however, a person convicted of possession of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana may get away with up to $1,500 in fines or 30 days in jail. According to the website of Del Prado Law in San Antonio the same offense in Texas can get a person jailed for up to 180 days or $10,000 in fines, or both. It all depends on the following:

  • Criminal record of the defendant
  • Amount of drugs
  • Type of drugs
  • Location of the drugs at the time of seizure
  • Possession of paraphernalia

Texas definitely has much harsher laws than Illinois, but Illinois is not much far behind, especially when it comes to quantities that indicate intent to sell. If you are in Champaign, for example, and you are found in possession of 15 grams of cocaine, it is automatically a felony charge. Whether there is such intention or not is irrelevant; you will still need a Champaign criminal defense lawyer to help you avoid a conviction or at least mitigate your punishment.

In Illinois, the law requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant knowingly possessed the substance and had “immediate and exclusive” control over it, even if the drug was not in the defendant’s actual physical possession but within his or her private property (constructive possession). The most common defense for a drug possession charge in Illinois is that the defendant did not know of the presence of the drugs, and that other people have equal control over it. It can be difficult for the prosecution to prove otherwise, especially if the drugs were concealed in an area where more than one person could get access.

If you have been charged with drug possession, you need to cover your bases even if it is just for a misdemeanor. The penalties escalate for repeat offenders, so avoid getting a criminal record as much as possible by consulting with a qualified criminal defense lawyer in your area.