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Railroad Crossing Accidents and Safety: What You Need to Know

Railroad crossing accidents are one of the most dangerous types of accidents involving motor vehicles. Studies show that over 85% of railroad accidents occur at railroad crossings. In addition, most of these accidents are avoidable if certain measures are taken.

Warning Systems Not Working

The majority of railroad crossing accidents are due to the warning bell or crossing gates not working. In addition, some drivers claim they couldn’t see the train coming because of shrubbery, trees, or bushes surrounding the railroad crossing. It is the responsibility of the railroad company to make sure that the area around the crossing is clear and free so that the railroad conductor and driver can see each other. Also, it is their responsibility, as well as the city officials, to make sure that the warning bells and crossing bars are working properly.

Drivers have some responsibility as well. It is never smart to try to “out run” an oncoming train. A good number of fatal accidents have been caused by drivers that try to beat a train by driving around the crossing bars or in front of a stopped train at a train depot. On some locomotives, the conductor is sitting up high and cannot see what is right in front of the train.

Railroad Conductors/Workers Negligent Behavior

There have been several cases across the U.S. where train conductors have been involved in accidents due to speeding. Federal regulations are in place that a train can go at only a certain speed, especially when driving through residential areas.

Long Hours/Drug Abuse/Under the Influence

As with other vehicle drivers, railroad conductors need to be screened for drugs and alcohol. This is not always the case. Furthermore, studies show that most railroad conductors work long hours with no breaks which can cause them to fall asleep behind the wheel of the train. If you factor in a conductor that is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it makes for a deadly combination. This is especially true for conductors that are stressed out to make a destination at a certain time and is running late, causing them to drive the train at a higher speed.

Do Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Reduce Auto Accidents Fatalities?

Studies show that cities and towns were substance abuse programs were established, the number of automobile accidents were reduced from anywhere from 8 to 13 percent. This is a positive since, each year, there are over 30,000 motor

Don’t drink & drive!

vehicle fatalities in the U.S. with over 30% being alcohol or drug related. Several hindrances have been put into place in the past to discourage people from driving while high or intoxicated. For example, alcohol taxes, not selling liquor on Sundays, revoking driver license, and raising the legal drinking age are just a few.

With the number of auto deaths on the rise, the state and federal government have stepped in. By putting on the books such laws as making seat belts mandatory, enforcing the speed limit, and rising the cost of insurance, the government is helping to do its part in reducing fatal car accidents. Some counties are known to be “dry” counties, prohibiting the sale of alcohol. However, some motorists bypass this by going to the next town or city and purchasing liquor and drugs. Still, research shows that being a “dry” county does typically reduce the number of automobile accidents every year.

Alcohol taxes seem to have a positive effect on reducing the number of fatal accidents, especially in towns were the average income is low and people usually don’t have any extra money to pay an excess tax. In smaller towns, drivers don’t want to get their license taken away as well. Besides not having any public transportation, the probability of getting caught driving on a suspended license is higher than a driver in a larger metropolitan area.

If you are ever in the need for some assistance or advice in an alcohol or drug related auto accident, contact a personal injury attorney immediately. Their knowledge and expertise can assist you in getting the justice you deserve.

Protecting Your Retirement Plan in Bankruptcy

If you make the choice to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you might wonder what will happen to your retirement plan. It is important to know what affects bankruptcy will have on your retirement money and more importantly, if you will be able to keep it or lose it.

Keeping your retirement money if you file bankruptcy depends on if it is a qualified plan. A qualified plan is one that is established by your employer than meets the guidelines set up by the IRS. Typically, most retirement plans, including 401Ks, profit-sharing, Keogh, defined-benefit, money marketing, and IRAs, meeting those requirements.

Most states offer some protection to your retirement plan if you file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For instance, a 401K is protected under law from being taken by creditors to pay your debts in bankruptcy. In addition, IRAs are usually protected for up to $1 million dollars and annuities are safeguarded under state law. However, laws differ from state to state.

It is important to know that if you owe money for back taxes, the IRS can seize your retirement plan money to satisfy the bill. Also, if you have a traditional and Roth IRA accounts, you are typically allowed to keep only $1,095.00 per person. What this means is if you have more than that in your account, the balance can be taken in bankruptcy court to pay back your creditors.

If you have taken out a retirement plan loan, repayment of that loan depends on if you filed a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. If you file a Chapter 7, you have to pay back the loan. For a Chapter 13, since you pay back your debts (usually three to five years) as part of your repayment plan, anything owed after that period of time is typically discharged, including retirement plan loans.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, your first step should be to consult a qualified bankruptcy attorney in your area. They can advise as which bankruptcy you should file and give you their expert and knowledgeable opinion as to how to handle your retirement plan during this time.

Legal Marketing and the iPad

Tablet computers are making legal marketing on the internet a necessary avenue to promote one’s law firm and its services. The iPad by Apple is one of the top sellers of tablet computers. Therefore, it would be beneficial to a law firm to take full advantage of the efficiency of using an iPad to do business with its clients.

Make it easy for people to search for a lawyer

The majority of people own some sort of mobile device, such as an iPad. This is due to the fact that it allows its users to access the internet on the go and is user-friendly. Thus, people are buying them at a rapid rate.

An example of its features is quick payment of services. Since the majority of banking is heading towards being online, it would be beneficial to a law firm to move towards online money servicing as well. A huge number of banks now offer online bill payment to save time and money. In addition, such services as PayPal can make a money transaction safe and quick. There is no waiting for a check to clear; money will be readily available.

There is also the whole aspect of legal marketing and search engine optimization. Since most consumers use some sort of search engine, such as Google or Yahoo, to lookup information, a law firm should make sure that they are listed on as many internet legal directories as possible. There are many including those organized by state, type of law practice, and attorney’s name.

This is a very important aspect, especially for example, if a person is looking for legal services for someone else in another state or while they are on vacation. If you are advertised well, then when someone is searching for a law firm or an attorney, your name and the name of your firm will appear frequently.

A good legal marketing firm can assist with promoting you and the services that you and your firm provide. They can boost business by increasing your visibility on the web and make sure that it appears at the top of search engines.

Pothole Accidents: Who’s Responsible?

Most motorists do not realize the serious of pothole accidents. Potholes can be as a big as a foot wide and several feet deep. Even if you are driving and slow down to go over one, the wear on your vehicle, especially if it is on your neighborhood street, can be damaging over time. This is not to mention if you don’t see a pothole and run right into it; the impact can cause your tire to blow and injury to yourself and passengers in the vehicle.

Potholes are typically caused by several factors such as constant driving over a tear in the street, the asphalt is damaged, or weather elements such as sleet and hail. Rainwater is one of the biggest factors in creating potholes and causing them to grow bigger. Supposedly, it is the responsibility of the city to fix holes and cracks in the streets immediately to prevent them from becoming potholes. Because some cities do nothing to repair the many potholes littering their streets, this is one of the main reasons pothole accidents are on the rise.

The parts of your vehicle that are affected most by driving over a pothole are the shocks and suspension. Studies have shown that going over a pothole unexpectantly is like having a car hit you at over 30 mph. This can lead to you losing control of your car and causing an accident.

One suggestion is that people should take pictures of potholes in their neighborhood and surrounding areas. Next, contact your local city hall about fixing them. It is their responsibility to do so.

To reduce your chances of being a victim in a pothole accident, it is recommended to slow down and drive carefully over any potholes. In the event that you do become involved in a pothole accident, be sure to contact a personal injury attorney specializing in motor vehicle accidents. They can help you deal with the insurance companies and city to get the full monetary compensation you deserve.

Pedestrian Accidents on Interstates and Highways

Even though it is legally restricted, there are many reasons why a person will be on a standing or walking on an interstate or highway. One of the main explanations is a car accident has taken place and they are going for help. Another good reason is that their car has stalled or stopped and they are trying to fix it on the side of the road.

While these are all legitimate scenarios for physically being on a highway, it is also one of the most dangerous. Studies have shown in recent years that more and more people are becoming causalities of pedestrian accidents on interstates and highways and the numbers keep growing.

Typically, alcohol or some sort of controlled substance factors into the equation—for both the pedestrian and the driver. Usually, if a driver is high or drunk, their response and reaction time diminishes. On the same note, if a pedestrian is drunk, they cannot move out of the way of a fast-moving vehicle the same as if they were sober.

Another reason for the rise in pedestrian accidents on the interstates and highway is the number of drivers that drive way over the speed limit, especially in larger SUVs. Many believe that they can drive fast and react quickly if someone steps out in front of their vehicle. But fatality reports from across the states have shown the opposite.

Not only is this not true, but usually those driving fast in larger SUVs have been known to lose control of their vehicle. If you factor in texting or talking on a cell phone as well, then the probability of avoiding a collision goes down.

If you find yourself or your loved one has been the victim of a highway or interstate accident, the first thing you want to do is contact an Atlanta personal injury attorney immediately. They can make sure that get the help and justice you deserve.

What You Should Know About Parent Re-Location

Divorce is already a complicated situation in itself. But when the custodial parent decides to leave the state with the child/children, it can make matters even worse. Non-custodial parents need to know that they do have rights if their ex-spouse decides to move away with the child/children. It is important to know the necessary steps to take in case this ever happens to you.

Typically, the first thing you will want to do is to contact your attorney. If you don’t have one, find a Florida family law attorney that specializes in custodial and visitation agreements. The non-custodial parent should be notified way ahead of any intent of a move of more than 50 miles away from the non-custodial parent. Also, the custodial parent should have sent a Notice of Intent to Relocate to the non-custodial parent.

If you and your ex-spouse have come to an agreement on your own, it must be in writing. The reasons for the move need to listed as well: new job, closer to other family members, better schools and neighborhood, etc. The visitation rights and arrangements of the non-custodial parent need to be noted on the agreement. Afterwards, the court will approve the agreement.

You can object to the relocation. If you do so, then the custodial parent can’t leave the state with your child/children. Usually, an objection to the move is filed in court to have something in writing and to let the court know that you take an active part in your child/children and their well-being. There typically is a hearing and the court will decide whether your objection is valid.

One of the worse things a non-custodial parent can do (and it will later count against you) is not take an active part in the welfare of their children. If you are this type of parent and object to the parental relocation of the custodial parent, the custodial parent can prove that you have not participated in your rearing of your child/children and most likely, your objection will be overturned.

Information on Megan’s Law

If you are a convicted sex offender, according to Megan’s Law, you are required to register with the Pennsylvania State Police or the local law enforcement agency. In addition, the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) of 2007 stipulates that all states and the District of Columbia must keep a sex offender registry and registration is required of every offender who committed a sex crime against a minor, which helps to create the national sex registry. This includes juvenile sex offenders as well as adults. Furthermore, any time a sex offender moves, law enforcement must be notified of the change in residency. If you forget to register or let the police know where you live, you can be charge with a felony.

This means that your personal information, such as address, physical description, license plate number, and criminal history, will become public knowledge. If you have a family, they can be subjected to harassment by neighbors, employers, and other parents and/or children. Landlords, real estate agents, and apartment housing managers are vulnerable as well because they are under a legal obligation to let the other tenants know that a convicted sex offender has moved in. On the other hand, they can also be sued for violating a person’s right to privacy.

Megan’s Law was passed in 1994 after seven-year old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered in New Jersey by a neighbor, a convicted sex offender living right across the street with four other sex offenders. The law required sex offenders to register with state or law enforcement. In turn, their name is put in the national sex offender registry and residents are notified that a convicted sex offender is living in their neighborhood.

This state’s Megan’s Law has a loophole: if you are a convicted sex offender from out-of-state and move to Pennsylvania, you do not have to register.

Another change will be that homeless sex offenders be required to not only register, but check in with state police once a week until they find a permanent place to live.

Trucking Accidents between Intrastate and Interstate Trucks: What You Need to Know

In the trucking industry, there is a big difference in being an intrastate carrier and an interstate carrier. If you ever find yourself in the misfortune of being in an accident involving an 18-wheeler, this information can be of vital importance.

An intrastate carrier is a truck that carries goods that are going from point A to point B within the state. A shipment from Savannah to Atlanta in Georgia is considered an intrastate delivery. The truck should not leave the state.

An interstate carrier is a truck that carries goods from one state to another, sometimes making stops. A truck carrying goods from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC, can make stops in Dayton, OH and Arlington VA. Additionally, there is authorization needed from Canada and Mexico if the shipment is going to either country.

The rules and regulations for intrastate and interstate carriers differ. There are also a set of regulations for tractor-trailer trucks, whether the truck is doing a partial or full delivery, and how long the driver can go without taking a rest/break. It is the responsibility of the trucking company to make sure that the truck is logged in correctly as either intrastate or interstate.   I

If any changes are made to the delivery, such as going from an intrastate to an interstate delivery, it is vital that the information is changed. Loads are insured for only what is supposed to be on the truck and sometimes trucking companies try to bypass this law.

A real important fact to know is that interstate carriers are regulated by not only the state, but a federal law called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. While intrastate carriers are governed by state law, most states have also adopted federal laws.


The Special Dangers of Garbage Truck Accidents

Garbage trucks are huge vehicles that travel along the streets of any given city, picking up trash from commercial residences and businesses. The risk of being in an accident with a garbage truck is high since most trucks are allowed special privileges that the average driver is not.

While typically drivers are allowed to drive on just one side of the street, garbage trucks can drive on both sides of the street. This can be the basis of why garbage trucks are typically involved in accidents that prove to be deadly.

For example, if a garbage truck is picking up trash in a residential area during the summer when children are playing, the chance of a child running out in the middle of the street for a ball or playing in the street is high. Garbage truck drivers need to be particularly aware of this, but sometimes they are not. Other things drivers need to be aware are garbage falling off the truck and faulty wheels/brakes.

Another high-risk area of garbage truck accidents is with cyclists. Because garbage trucks usually make wide and unexpected turns, they need to pay attention to cyclists who sometimes like to weave in and around cars.

Drivers sometimes cannot see everyone that is behind them or those that speed up next to the truck at the last minute. For drivers and cyclists on the road, it is important to remember this: if you can’t see the garbage truck mirrors, then the garbage truck driver cannot see you.

Garbage truck drivers need to take some extra precautions when driving. They are supposed to drive slowly and be aware of everything and everyone around them. Because they are operating such a huge vehicle, doing such things as running red lights, making sudden turns and stops, talking or texting on a cell phone just raises the possibility of hitting a pedestrian, driver, or cyclist.

The injuries sustained by being in an accident with a garbage truck are catastrophic; people have suffered broken spines, loss of arms and legs, paralysis, head trauma, and third-degree burns.

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