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The Different Chapters of the U.S. Bankruptcy Law

The more than 1.5 million Americans who filed for bankruptcy in 2010 clearly shows the financial hardship suffered by many individuals and families in the U.S., especially by those falling in the lower-income bracket. These financial problems are not caused by reckless spending, that’s for sure, but by job loss and cost of medical treatment.

Besides loss of job, a direct effect of the 2008 – 2009 Great Recession and the struggling economy, and an accident or illness that requires medical treatment, other causes of financial hardship that hit many Americans like plague were divorce, reduced pay, and death of a bread-winner in the family. These have resulted to families and individuals diverting available funds to basic needs rather than to paying debts and monthly bills; these, in turn, lead to debts accumulating, eventually growing to an amount that makes these impossible to settle.

It will take only about three months before creditors start referring bad debts to collection firms. These firms have only one purpose: to make debtors pay. Thus, they do not hold back employing whatever tactics they have in their bag, especially those that will scare debtors and make them decide to pay.

Overwhelming debts can definitely cause too much stress and worry. These, however, cannot ruin any person’s life, thanks to bankruptcy, a legal way of freeing oneself from insurmountable debts. Bankruptcy is the government’s way of helping individuals, families and businesses find the best way they can pay their debts and regain control of their finances. Protection from creditors and collection agencies, which is provided by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, is made through the Code’s different chapters, each designed to address debtors’ specific financial situation. This Bankruptcy Code’s different chapters include:

  • Chapter 7 – also known as liquidation bankruptcy. Under this chapter, a court-appointed trustee is tasked to liquidate all non-exempt assets and properties surrendered by a debtor (non-exempt assets may include a second house, a vacation house, a second vehicle, expensive tools or musical instruments, jewelry, etc.). The cash raised will be used to pay a debtor’s secured debts and the remaining amount, if there is any, will be returned to the debtor. Secured or non-dischargeable debts include government-related debts, child support, alimony and student loan (under certain conditions). Other debts, which a debtor has, like credit card bills, medical bill, past utility bills, personal loans, and so forth, are called dischargeable debts; the court can decide to free a person from these debts.
  • Chapter 11, which is also called business bankruptcy, allows a business to restructure its finances (repayment plan) for more affordable payments. Though Chapter 11 is risky, time-consuming and expensive, many small corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships choose it because it is the only chapter that allows firms to restructure and continue business operations.
  • Chapter 12 is designed for families of farmers and fishermen with a regular annual income, which own and operate the fishing or farming business, or which own at least 50% of the farming or fishing business.
  • Chapter 13, which is a reorganization or restructuring type of bankruptcy, allows debtors to design a debt payment scheme. A Chapter 13 plan usually lasts for three years, but may be extended to five years if allowed by a court. Unlike in Chapter 7, a debtor is not required to surrender any of his or her properties for liquidation.

Getting back to financial solvency, no matter how difficult your financial situation may be, is always possible; thus, losing hope, while this may be understandable, is still a very poor and lame excuse.

Driver Error: One of the Major Causes Car Crashes in the US

Every year, more than five million incidences of car crashes on US roads and highways are reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). More than two million of these crashes cause injuries, from minor scratches to serious physical harm, such as broken bones, spinal and neck injuries, damage to internal organs or brain damage; more than 30,000, however, result to victims’ instant death.

One hurting truth about car crashes is the fact that these can cause disability or the death of a friend or a loved one; it is insanely outrageous to know, however, that more than 90 percent of all car crashes are due to driver negligence or recklessness, making these totally preventable incidences.

Causes of car accidents can be categorized under two groups: those that are beyond the control of a driver, like road/highway defect or car/car part defect, and those that are within the control of a driver, such as drunk-driving, reckless driving, overspeeding and driver error.

The study conducted by the NHTSA, the 2008 National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS), shows that driver error was the major cause of car accidents from 2005 to 2007. There are many different things which can be considered as driver error, the ones that were most often reported though, included:

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or while fatigued or feeling drowsy
  • Texting or conversing with someone over the phone
  • Driving recklessly, speeding, driving through a red light, not allowing down at curves, not stopping at intersections, making improper lane changes, improper overtaking, not using signals before making turns, tailgating, etc
  • Speeding or driving too fast for certain road conditions
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Turning one’s focus away from driving and from the road (this is one type of error that majority of drivers are guilty of. The alarming thing is that many do not consider these to be dangerous, besides the fact that these errors, more correctly called driving distractions, are often unnoticed. Some examples include eating, adjusting a radio or using an electronic device, looking at a map, conversing with a passenger, lighting a cigarette, reaching for something from the backseat or anywhere else inside the car, and so many others.

The website of the law firm Habush Habush & Rottier agrees that everyone makes mistakes. However, the said firm continues, if these mistakes are committed while driving, then these can result to a collision which can seriously injured an innocent driver, pedestrian, or another motorist.

While no driver would want to be involved in an accident, much more injure anyone, the fact remains that if he or she does injure someone else, then that other person will be faced with concerns that will definitely affect his or her financial situation, like the sudden need to pay for medical treatment and inability to report to work which will mean loss of earnings. To save an innocent victim from still experiencing financial difficulties on top of the injuries that he or she had already been made to unjustly suffer, the law allows him or her to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver for the compensation that will cover all present and financial concerns that result from the injury.

Trauma after a Car Accident

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proceeds to show that motor vehicle injury is one of the major reasons for injuries and deaths in the USA, specifically for individuals older 1 – 3 4 years.

A Houston car accident attorney would point out how driver education is not sufficient to make sure road safety guidelines are observed by every driver. This is why the Nationwide Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has transferred to apply more laws, enforce these laws more steadfastly and demand more significant fines and severer punishment on violators.

Automobile mishaps present a larger risk than anyone may imagine. These may trigger loss of lives and critical injuries which may well alter the lifestyles of the sufferers (for the rest of their lives). NHTSA says that it is very lucky that not all car crashes cause injuries that are critical. The reason for an equally-significant difficulty to a lot of accident victims, nevertheless, is not the injury sustained, however, the experience of experiencing a life-threatening encounter; thus, a number of individuals who have been engaged in motor vehicle injuries develop long-term, panic and phobia tension after their terrible encounter.

Psychiatrists and psychologists both concur that of driving an automobile again, until about two weeks after a collision, trauma or anxiety, is a standard response and needs to be anticipated. CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), reports the types who generally develop the injury are passengers, rather than motorists. But while adult passengers may be capable of easily avoid driving automobiles (until they’ve overcome the trauma), the case is different with regard to quite young kids, whose parents decide whether or not they should trip or maybe not.

And while many are not unable to overcome the injury brought on by the injury, some suffer with it more persistently and longer, ending up experiencing sleep problems, depression and anxiety, which soon change associations, their behavior pattern and also function.

Actually the standard mental sessions required to help traumatized sufferers overcome their surprising encounter may lead to another group of issues caused by financial issues. Favoring treatment from bank cards and mortgage overpayment of invoices, a number of sufferers often are in overwhelming debts, with bankruptcy as the only means of authorized alternative.

One important point that accident casualties should do following an accident is always to have a lawyer who’ll represent, and negotiate for, them. The damages the law allows victims to receive will enable them to get the treatment they desire although injury sustained may be there to stay.

Considering Filing for Bankruptcy?

While some people may consider filing for bankruptcy as the worst financial decision they may ever come to, a lot of cases of people who have filed for bankruptcy have stated that they were in a much better position to settle their debts than they were before. Bankruptcy allows for them to be in better standing with regard to their credit, which could mean that they’re much freer from financial troubles than they were had they waited to file for bankruptcy.

Will filing for bankruptcy clear you of all your debts? The short answer is yes. Should you be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your non-exempt assets can be liquidated in order to settle your old accounts. Though the mark of bankruptcy can be on record for about ten years, the clean slate that it offers you then allows for you to be in better standing with your credit, thereby giving you a more stable footing with your finances.

Before you file for bankruptcy, however, you might want to check in with your Dallas bankruptcy lawyer to see if you are both qualified for the type of bankruptcy you want and if the type of bankruptcy case you wish to file for is the one best suitable for your situation. As much as filing for bankruptcy need not be the ultimately horrible thing that has been advertised in many media platforms, it can be quite the complex situation to go through.

After all, not everyone has the same kind of financial situation and lifestyle. The planning for every kind of circumstance changes, therefore no single bankruptcy case is the same. In order to properly file for bankruptcy, you must have both the discipline and patience to go through with the plan. The debts must be organized – which of them is prioritized? You must have a listing of all your legally owned assets at the ready before you are even to consult a legal professional about this situation.

Putting a Value on Your Car Accident Claim

There are basically two things that can help determine the value of settlement compensation after a car accident: the full extent of your damages and the strength of the liability claim. In order to have an idea of how much the settlement compensation you should be receiving, you should understand how these two factors come into play.

The strength of your liability claim will depend on the evidence of “negligence” of the other driver that caused the accident. Recovering for damages from a no-fault state can be close to impossible, unless liability exists. You should be able to show the carelessness of the other driver in order to have a strong personal injury claim. If in case the accident was due to you and the other driver’s negligent actions, the settlement claim may depend on whether your state follows the comparative or contributory negligence rule.

As for the extent of your damages, there are three common methods that can determine the value of settlement is common car accidents: (1) colossus, (2) multiple of specials, and (3) per diem. Colossus refers to a software system used by insurance companies to compute the settlement value. Others may not use colossus specifically, but something similar to it. Although you are not allowed to use the colossus software, it is important for you to know how it works and how it will determine your settlement value.

The multiple of specials system requires the use of three elements in order to add the total damages. First is medical bills, another is lost income, and lastly the damages for pain and suffering. Insurance companies often challenge the amount of medical bills and lost payment, citing unreasonably high charges or that they are excessive and not properly supported. You have to make sure that you have supporting evidence for these claims. The damages for pain and suffering can be a more difficult thing to prove, but consulting with a personal injury lawyer would help you understand to put compute it.

One approach in calculating the pain and suffering is through the “per diem” method. The idea is to ask for a certain amount of compensation for each day that the pain caused by the accident has generated. One way to help compute for the daily rate is by every day earnings. You argument would be that the pain caused by the accident is in the least comparable to your effort of going to work every day.

Jurisdiction, Statute of Limitations, and other Legal Matters

A personal injury claim is filed in the jurisdiction where the accident or injury occurred. It should be in a court that has the legal authority to make binding decisions regarding the case. It can also be filed in a court where either the injured person or the person at-fault resides.

If you have been injured within the state of Oklahoma, you have two years from the date of the accident to file for a personal injury claim. On its website, the Abel Law Firm says that claimants should be wary of this statute of limitations, because the court will not accept personal injury claims that have expired their statute of limitations, and thus legal right for compensation or damages will be forfeited.

Many people who have been injured may be hesitant to file for a personal injury claim because they believe it would require them to go to trial. However, a great majority of personal injury claim does not event reach court, and many parties tend to have a settlement agreement after evaluating the damages and negotiating a fair compensation. Even if both parties will not agree with the settlement, there will be other options such as mediation that would call for the assistance of a third party, probably an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer or other person of authority to preside and help resolve the dispute and reach an agreement.

As a last resort, the claim can lead to a lawsuit where it will be the judge who will decide the outcome of the case. This would mean that the case will be put on trial, where the lawyers of both parties would have to present their side of the case through evidence and witnesses. The judge will then be the one who will decide on the amount of compensation based on the facts put forth during the trial.

Botox: Treatment for Facial Lines that Come with Aging

The International Association for Physicians in Aesthetic Medicine (IAPAM) is seeing a much bigger number of internists frequenting its support and training programs for doctors intending to add aesthetic procedures in their practice. The reason for the increase is, obviously economic, the low insurance reimbursements and long working hours that, gradually, yet steadily, are decreasing medical internists’ quality of life, as well as the more than 10 million clients and patients who underwent surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures in 2012 alone – making the extra procedures promising sources of additional income.

For a less obvious reason, however, and way beyond financial issues, is the fulfillment many internists and doctors have experienced in the practice – the endless “thanks” and positive responses from aesthetic procedure patients, which were very minimal during the much longer time when they treated diabetics and other severely ill patients.

Aesthetic procedures are good news for doctors, indeed, but a much better news for clients and patients for they can rest assured that all procedures are performed by medical experts (or their assistants). The list of aesthetic treatments sought and requested by clients and patients is topped by Botulinum Toxin A Injections, which is much better known as Botox.

Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium and the source of Botox, is a poisonous substance that causes botulism, which is a deadly type of illness. Despite being toxic, however, physicians found a way to make botulinum medically useful. Furthermore, physicians discovered that this bacterium was capable of decreasing muscle activity or muscle contraction by blocking the transmission of neuromuscular cells. And with lesser muscle activity, that means less wrinkles or frown lines.

On April 12, 2002, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of injectable botulinum toxin type A to treat wrinkles (on the forehead), squint lines or crow’s feet (from the corner of the eyes), platysmal muscle bands (which develop at the neck), and visible lines on the eyebrows. To treat the lines that have developed on the targeted part/s of the neck and/or face, the solution is injected directly into the parts’ muscles.

Youthful skin that is untainted by lines that form because of age is one of the great benefits of having a Botox treatment which, is totally safe as has been proven through decades of medical use. A very small amount, which can last from four to eight months, is all that is needed to produce the beautiful result that clients always want.

Horrific Consequences of da Vinci Robot Surgical Errors

It seems incredible that in these modern times, horrific things can still happen to patients under the knife. But the reality is, surgical errors often happen when the surgeon is careless, inattentive, negligent or incompetent, and bear the brunt of the liability. In the case of the da Vinci robot, though, incompetence may be the rule rather than the exception when it comes to surgical errors.

It is not easy to learn how to operate the da Vinci surgical system. The surgeon is expected to precisely manipulate surgical instruments using foot pedals and a joystick on a terrain viewed through a monitor. The shift in hand-eye coordination, plus the visual adjustment to a flat monitor rather than actually tissues and organs can lead to surgical errors with quite serious consequences.

One case is a woman whose hysterectomy caused her to herniated her intestines through her vagina because of an improperly closed hole where the cervix. In another hysterectomy, both of the patient’s ureters were accidentally cut, which would require additional surgery to repair and a long bout of pain and discomfort. An elderly man with stomach problems was subjected to hours in surgery because the surgeon had difficulty using the da Vinci system, finally switching to open surgery to finish the job; the man died of a perforated esophagus. At Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in New Hampshire, two patients had their bladders lacerated, necessitating additional surgery in another hospital to repair.

The da Vinci manufacturer Intuitive Surgical Inc. claims that the risks associated with surgery remains even with the new technology. However, those whose lives who have been significantly affected by surgical errors are claiming that the company failed to provide surgeons with adequate warning about the risks associated with using the robot and the training that would make them competent to use it without compromising patient safety. Investigations show that Intuitive’s training module is simply not enough.

If you or a family member has sustained serious injury due to surgical errors made by inadequately trained surgeons using the da Vinci surgical system, you may have an actionable case. Consult with a surgical error lawyer with experience in dealing with da Vinci robot cases.

Text mates in New Jersey could be held liable for Car Accidents

In what would seem a mystifying turn of events, state court judges agreed that text mates may also be held liable for civil lawsuits involving distracted driving.

The New Jersey Court of Appeals decided that it was possible for a recipient or originator of the text that causes a car accident may also be held liable for any consequences in a civil action. This ruling was based on a 2009 incident where a driver was distracted by a text sent by a 17-year-old female friend and plowed into a couple in a motorcycle, resulting serious injuries. The couple from Morris County sued the driver and his text mate. While the girl was found not liable in that particular case, it is the judges’ opinion that it may be possible in other instances if the texter “knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.”

Texting is considered the most dangerous of mobile phone-related distractions, making the risk of car accidents 23 times more likely. Talking and listening on a mobile phone increases the risk only 1.4 times; still risky but not as much as texting. While young adults and teenagers are often pinpointed as a big problem in this issue, many older adults are doing the same thing.

However, penalizing someone who is not driving merely by sending a text to someone who is seems to be stretching the point a bit too far. After all, it is the driver who decides to pick up the phone at inappropriate times, and the texter would not have any control over the actions of the person receiving the text. Judges justify the ruling by expressing the hope that such strict liability will make drivers- and their text mates – aware of the dangers of texting and driving.

The Aftermath of the BP Oil Spill

The coastal towns around the Gulf of Mexico had once been known as the best sources of oysters, shrimp and other seafood. That all ended on April 20, 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up, and it does not look like that’s going to change anytime soon. Also known as the BP oil spill, it has devastated the lives of thousands of people who live in and around the area.

The oil that spewed from the rig affected the ecology of the water and surrounding coastal lands greatly, and not for the better. Some of the chemicals present in the oil and the dispersant used to break it up are toxic to humans, and these have been integrated into the sea bed and the animals that feed on sea plant life. Even though the government has declared the seafood now safe for human consumption, there is a lot of hesitation to take its word for it, especially as scientists maintain that the toxins stay in the environment for a long time as a consequence of the food cycle.

The worst thing about the BP oil spill is that those who were affected the most were the independent fishermen who depended on their daily catch to provide for their families. With oyster beds dying, shrimp obviously contaminated, and crabs dead or shells riddled with holes, small fishermen are facing the extinction of their livelihood. Many who have already lost everything will have no recourse but to look to other occupations and/or move to a different location. The physical, emotional and financial consequences of the BP oil spill are pervasive.

BP and partner companies are finally starting to compensate some of the people it had harmed from its negligent actions, but for many it is too little, too late. A recent hold on the claims processing has further exacerbated the situation by delaying payouts to deserving victims. When will the aftermath of the BP oil spill ever stop being felt by the innocent?

If you or someone close to you has been harmed by the BP oil spill, getting compensation may not solve all your problems. But at the very least, it should enable you to make a fresh start. Consult with a law firm experienced in handling BP oil spill claims as soon as possible.

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