We Need to Become Legally Literate

We live in a legal world. Every day we hear fancy legal words and fancy Latin expressions. Most of us let these pass right past us with only the vaguest understanding of what those terms mean. We make assumptions about what the terms mean because we don’t want to show the truth: we’re legally illiterate. We don’t know the law, even if the law governs our lives.

In day-to-day life, this is usually fine. We don’t need to know what habeas corpus means if all we do is get up, go to work, come home and watch TV, and go to bed.

But what if we ever needed those fancy words? Hopefully, you’ll never need to know what habeas corpus means (it’s the right not be detained indefinitely without being allowed to have your case heard), but other terms are almost certainly going to be important at some point.

For instance, take the word probate. What is that anyway? You may have heard it a number of times in your life. Perhaps your parents talked about it when one of your grandparents died. Or perhaps it was mentioned in one of those legal shows you love where they throw words around to sound smart (which you don’t understand, but you appreciate that the TV lawyers do). Perhaps they were investigating a potential murder and there were questions about the will. Then probate came up, and you just assumed it was a magic word to get the story to move along.

Well, probate actually has a specific meaning.

According to the Arenson Law Group, PC, probate is the “process of legally legitimizing your will and ensuring its enforcement.” Apparently, every will, no matter it’s a massive, drawn out and detailed account of all your possessions or a scribble on a piece of old paper has to go through probate.

It’s during this process that an “executor” (another term you might have heard before) is selected who has the legal power to distribute assets according to the wishes in the will.

When people “contest” a will, it is also during the probate stage. So, it’s a relatively important part of the will. In fact, some wills are deemed invalid during probate.

This example proves just how little people actually know about the law, even if it is sure to affect you at some point. All of us have loved ones who will someday pass away, as we will ourselves. Probate will come up at some point in your life, and yet, even if you knew what it meant, the majority of people reading this article did not.

We need a massive legal literacy campaign in this country. Really, such terms should be taught in high schools to make sure everyone is aware of what they mean, not just when they’re thrown around on TV, but when they come up in our real lives, as they almost certainly will.

London’s New Tax Aims to Lower Pollution

London is the latest city to decide its skies are still too polluted. After efforts in recent years from fellow European cities (including a carless day in Paris in 2015) helped to raise awareness though little else, London has settled upon a plan to make a serious dent in its air pollution problem.

In recent years, London has raised its commuting rates to extremely high levels, but the city still feels not enough has been done. Now, it will add an incredible 13 dollar charge per day for older cars that don’t meet the most recent emissions standards. The price is surely designed to force owners of old cars to either buy new or else start commuting by public transportation.

The increasing pollution of major cities, even in the West, has lead many to demand greater and more drastic steps like those taken by London.

Though such drastic steps are popular in big cities across the West, including in America, such issues tend to fail on the macro scale of whole countries, in particular, America.

Recent steps from the Trump administration have, if anything, done the opposite of London’s new law, by removing clean air regulations on a number of industries.

At the same time, many industries are still willing to accommodate the demands of cities and are keeping up with regulations even if they are (or soon will be) rescinded by President Trump. Many are using novel new technology in order to bring their factories and other industrial businesses into compliance with recent US standards and those set by the Paris Accord (which President Trump has promised to back out of).

With renewable energy and natural gas producing increasingly larger amounts of America’s energy, some suggest the country may yet meet the Paris Accord demands regardless of White House policy.

None of that will come close to the plans of London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, however. Khan hopes to put London on the path to being a zero-emissions city by 2040. While such ambitious plans may leave many skeptical, a number of London’s big steps are being followed by other cities.

Los Angeles and Seattle (and London) are among the 12 cities that have pledged to only buy zero-emission busses from 2025 onward. Los Angeles, in particular, is eager to improve its air quality, since it is the most polluted city in the US.

While the efforts of London and elsewhere have generally been lauded in principle, London’s new tax is not getting universal praise. The Conservatives have come out against the policy, suggesting it will disproportionately hit small business owners and the city’s shrinking poor population.

On the other side, many environmentalists feel the efforts, while moving in the right direction, are not doing enough to deal with London’s serious pollution issues. They would like to see far more extreme policies implemented.

Chicago ordinance beautifies city

It is common knowledge that greener landscapes lead to a variety of health and economic benefits. A beautiful and lush city can hide unsightly buildings and parking garages, provide a natural habitat for native insects and birds, and can increase the number of people who choose to live and work in the area. Some cities like Chicago have their own landscaping ordinances that mandate landscaping be taken into account when designing and putting up new buildings, but not every building project needs to adhere to this rule.

According to cityofchicago.org, the city’s official website, the landscaping ordinance has been in effect since 1991 for the purpose of beautifying the city, alleviating noise and air pollution, cooling the streets, and increasing the local property values (which would then lead to more property taxes being collected). Not only limited to new buildings, but construction companies must also have a landscaping plan in place for proposed additions to buildings if those additions are larger than 1500 square feet. Interestingly enough, parkway plantings are also required if repairs are being done on a building that is not expanding, as long as the structural repairs exceed 50% of the cost to replace the entire building; this even applies to interior decorating and repairs. Greenery must also be included in parking lots if they are going to be larger than 3000 square feet, and if a parking lot is be expanding beyond 25% of its current size, then planting standards must be met. However, if the proposed parking lot is smaller than 1200 square feet, then the ordinance does not apply to them.

What this ordinance neglects is personal dwellings and residential buildings that have fewer than three living units. This is understandable because this ordinance is meant to beautiful the inner city where there are relatively few single family homes. In addition, there would likely be much opposition to legislation that tries to dictate the amount of greenery you must plant in your yard (even though most HOAs do so anyway). However, just because an ordinance of this sort may not apply to you, it is still generally a good idea to undertake personal beautification projects. Many landscaping companies, like Ware Landscaping in the Chicago area, can help you choose the perfect selection of trees and plants to fit your home and raise your property value as well as your standard of living.

All large cities should have an ordinance of this sort to ensure that there is sufficient greenery around to keep residents and visitors healthy and happy. The Chicago ordinance has a few workarounds, however. Construction companies could easily get around the parking lot rule by building separate parking lots that are all under 1200 square feet, for example, and businesses would take care to make sure their repair costs are under half of the replacement cost. Even though this ordinance may not be perfect, it is certainly a step in the right direction to having more beautiful cities.

The Causes of Car Accidents

Around 2.35 million people are injured or disabled due to automobile accidents each year on US roads and many affected Americans may be uncertain what to do following an accident, especially in the face of mounting medical costs. Fortunately, even if you aren’t harmed in an accident, there are many legal options that you might consider if you have any reason to believe that the accident was not your fault. Law firms like Habush Habush & Rottier S.C offer services for car accidents if they result from any of the following:

  • Driver Error
  • Reckless Driving
  • Speeding
  • Drunk Driving
  • Mechanical Defects/Malfunctions
  • Highway Defects

Driver Error is probably the most common cause of automobile accidents. If any of the other drivers involved in the accident were distracted by the radio, failed to check their blind spot, or turned without signaling, they may be wholly or partially liable for any expenses incurred in the accident. If your accident resulted from any of these or similar behaviors, you may be eligible for representation and compensation.

Reckless Driving includes many of the behaviors covered by driver error. If any other drivers involved in your accident were driving irresponsibly or recklessly, you may not be liable for the damages incurred by the accident.

Speeding is driving at speeds that exceed the posted legal limit. If you believe that any other drivers involved in the crash were driving at speeds that exceed the posted limit for the site of the accident, you should contact a lawyer to see if you are eligible for legal representation.

Drunk Driving and alcohol use, unfortunately, result in many car accidents, injuries, and deaths in the United States. The legal limit in all 50 states is BAC .08%. If any of the other drivers involved in your accident were under the influence of alcohol, you may be eligible to receive compensation for any medicals and legal costs.

Mechanical Defects/Malfunctions, just like people, can cause automobile accidents. This category includes things like airbag defects, engine malfunctions, faulty brake design, etc. Car manufacturers have a legal responsibility to the safety of their customers. If you have reason to believe that any structural problems in the design of your vehicle caused or contributed to your accident, it is possible that you may have limited or zero liability in the accident.

Highway Defects can also cause car accidents. Like corporations, the government has a legal obligation to ensure the safety of drivers by safely constructing and maintaining roads. Insufficient signage, potholes, poor road design, and lack of shoulder space are common contributors to automobile accidents. If your accident resulted from any of these highway defects, you might not hold all liability for the accident.

If you have been involved in an automobile accident that resulted from anything described above, you might be eligible for legal representation and financial compensation. Take the time to research the above topics and contact a lawyer to see if you can get help dealing with your car accident.

Long Term Disability Insurance and Social Security Disability Benefits

Injuries or illnesses that result to long-term disability have long-lasting effects that can render any person unable to perform work for at least six months. For those who are employed and enjoy an employer-sponsored comprehensive employee benefits package that includes a long term disability (LTD) insurance policy, the cash benefits their (LTD) insurance policy pays can serve as a financial safety net for the duration of 5 or 10 years, or until the insured employee reaches the age of 65 (duration actually depends on the plan purchased).

Long-term disability insurance (LTD) is a type of insurance policy that is designed to protect an employee from loss of income in the event that he/she becomes incapable of work, due to illness, injury, or accident, for a long period of time.

Though long-term disability insurance ensures that an employee will still receive a percentage of his/her income, typically about 50% – 70%, it will not pay cash benefits to employees who sustain work-related accidents or injuries that are covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance program.

LTD is usually employer-sponsored. If a company, however, does not offer long term disability insurance, then an employee has the option to purchase an individual long-term disability plan from his/her preferred insurance agent; he/she can also purchase a personal supplemental long term disability insurance policy for additional coverage (unlike an LTD insurance policy, which is subjected to taxes, a supplemental LTD insurance is tax exempt). Some employees actually consider purchasing supplemental long-term disability insurance because an employer-sponsored long term disability insurance is usually insufficient to meet a disabled employee’s needs.

Additional information provided by Fields Disability lawyers regarding LTD says that most long-term disability policies require that any extra income you receive be deducted (off-set) from your payable long-term disability benefits. This requirement is usually put in place to alleviate the long-term disability carriers’ costs in paying out benefits. Thus, to reduce the amount an LTD carrier will be required to pay you, it will have you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, which are considered as “income” and, therefore, can be off-set from the amount a carrier will pay.

Child Custody: How much do You Want to be Your Child’s Custodian?

Child custody is one of the issues that lengthen a divorce process. In many divorce cases, both parents do not want to be separated from their child. Long before, child custody was awarded solely to the mother, due to the observance of a practice called “maternal preference.” This preference was based on the presumption that mother were better equipped with the love and concern necessary in raising children.

Today, many courts consider awarding custody of a child to both parents, especially if this will be in the child’s best interest. This joint custody is most probably the decision a court would arrive at, unless one parent is deemed and proven unfit by the court. Being judged as an unfit parent can be due to many different reasons, such as a parent: being abusive to his/her child; a bad influence to the child (can be due to use and dependence to illegal drugs and/or alcohol); exposing the child or allowing the child to be exposed to pornographic elements; using excessive forms of disciplinary acts; or was charged or convicted of a crime.

Two other important factors considered by the court when deciding who gets child custody are parent’s involvement in the child’s activities and the environment where the parent resides. Spending time with the child and being there when he/she needs the parent most, like in school plays, school meetings and other activities are greatly considered and appreciated by the court.

If the environment can put the child’s health at risk, though, or compromise his/her safety, maybe due to the regularity of crimes in the neighborhood or open use of illegal drugs, then these may affect the court’s decision.

The ill behavior of a new partner, which may have an unfavorable effect on the child, can also keep the court from deciding in favor of one parent. Many other things are considered by the court, including the possible custodian’s health, age and financial opportunities. Some parents look for really good lawyers who can strongly defend their interests and fight for their right in court in order to have the advantage of winning custody of their child.

As explained in the website of the law firm Marshall & Taylor, PLLC, “A court will never side with the parent who violates the terms of the child custody agreement specified in the court agreement. Even if the parent has noble reasons for doing so, in the eyes of the law he or she will always be wrong. In addition to that, if the ex-couple agrees to an amendment of the terms of the child custody agreement, this amendment should be formalized in written form before being acted on. Otherwise, the resulting action will always be a violation.”

A divorce process is not only emotionally draining and painful, but complex as well. Having an experienced lawyer guiding you through its whole process may help you see to it that your rights and interests are recognized and respected.

What may be Considered as Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a major traffic violation in the United States. This traffic violation,however, is a large diverse crime due to the many ways it can be committed. Though some states may impose additional traffic prohibitions which would result to reckless driving if violated, the following are some of the most common ways of committing this dangerous road behavior:

  • Driving at reckless speed. This means driving 20 mph above the speed limit or driving over 80 mph.
  • Driving too fast for traffic conditions. There are instances when driving at the maximum allowed speed can be considered as reckless behavior. One example is driving at 60 mph in a 60 mph zone, but with the road covered in snow.
  • Driving on a any public road in such a way that can endanger another person’s “life, limb, or property.” This rule is a catch-all for all types of unsafe driving practices, like driving the wrong way on a one-way street, parking on a highway, and driving asleep at the wheel.
  • Having too many passengers inside the vehicle. Drivers who carry more passengers than the number of seat belts or allows one too many passengers in the front seat that the their ability to drive properly is compromised could be charged with reckless driving.
  • Intersections and Crossings. Drivers passing or overtaking another vehicle at a railroad crossings or at an intersection, especially if there are pedestrians crossing or about to cross are guilty of reckless driving.
  • Passing a School bus. Drivers who fail to stop while a school bus is taking on or discharging passengers and fails to remain stopped until the bus has started to move again is guilty of reckless driving. Exception to this rule includes situations wherein the school is on a section of the road that is separated from the lane of travel by an unpaved area or a physical barrier, or if the bus is immediately adjacent to a school and the driver has been directed to pass it).
  • Traffic violations which include speeding, tailgating, distracted driving, failure to yield right of way, failure to use turn signals, drunk driving, and, running stop signs / red lights.

More than just a mistake or a negligent act, reckless driving involves a driver’s willful and active disregard for the safety of others and for his/her own safety. Thus, one can also be charged of driving recklessly even if there is no one else on the road whose safety may be put at risk or someone else’s property getting damaged; driving in such a way that puts his/her own life in danger or his/her property at risk of getting damaged is enough for a driver to be considered reckless.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and traffic authorities consider reckless driving as a totally irresponsible, yet preventable act. Due to this, anyone who behaves recklessly on the road is held liable for the ill consequences of his/her act. This means not only facing the harsh punishments (this includes fines, imprisonment and possible suspension or revocation of his/her license) that may be imputed on violators, but compensating anyone who may be injured too.

According to the Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A. law firm, even a minor car accident can leave a victim with serious injuries, ongoing pain and suffering, significant property damage, and serious emotional, psychological, and financial burdens. This unfavorable circumstances make pursuing a legal action necessary as it would allow the victim seek compensation that should cover all of the victim’s sufferings and losses.

Get the Best and Cheapest SR-22 Offer Online

There are times when a court will have to require a driver to carry a special type of insurance in order for that driver to continue enjoying his or her driving privileges. This special type of insurance is called SR-22, a form which insurance companies send to a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to indicate that the person whose license has been suspended already has the required insurance coverage.

A driver can be required to carry an SR-22 filing if he or she has been:

  • Caught driving without auto liability insurance;
  • Cited for multiple traffic violations within a specified time period (like three moving violations in just one year);
  •  Involved in an accident without auto insurance;
  • Driving a car under the influence (DUI);
  • Cited for recklessly driving a motor vehicle; or
  • Issued a license suspension or revocation.

Only by filing SR-22 can a driver’s driving privileges be immediately restored as this will also immediately lift the suspension made on his or her license. However, an SR-22 form may not be so easy to obtain because one will first be required to purchase an auto liability insurance policy. But here’s the tricky part: being required to carry an SR-22 filing will make insurance companies tag you as a “high-risk” driver. Being “high-risk,” an insurance provider has two options: deny your purchase or sell you a policy that is more expensive than the regular. Why more expensive, you may ask? Well, because you’re a “high-risk” driver, which means you are likely to get involved in an accident and if or when you do, instead of earning profits, your insurance provider will have to spend since it will have to pay your victim. Carrying SR-22 also usually lasts for three years, however, a judge may extend it to five years if he or she sees it fit. This means more expensive premium payments for 36 months or 3 years – a real strain on your budget even if there is no extension made.

While insurance firms find means to make policies more expensive, however, independent car insurance companies help car owners and drivers find the best insurance deal, including SR-22, with the lowest price. According to LaMarca Law Group P.C., some insurance companies offer customers as many as a dozen free insurance quotes online which will allow customers compare insurance prices. Besides these free insurance quotes, it also offers free SR-22 quotes, as well as online filing of all your insurance related needs.

Within minutes, you can be insured or get an SR-22; no hassle, no paperwork and everything is guaranteed fast and easy and even right in the comfort of your home. All you need to do is dial a number.

What Your Functional Assessment Says About You

For older adults, functional assessments are vital in order evaluate their physical, emotional, and mental capability, particularly on how they are managing their tasks and activities that are generally part of everyday life. Included in these tasks are self-care (dressing and getting around your house, among other things) and other tasks that require mental skills like managing finances. For medical professionals, functional assessments can help determine a number of things, such as:

-Identify and determine the stages of cognitive issues, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, delirium, and other mental health problems that can lead to life-threatening complications.

-Determine the impact of declining physical diseases like heart failure, diabetes, and many others.

-Check the level of supervision and assistance the elder needs to be able to live at home, and the level of in-home care they might require on an everyday basis.

-Determine which medical issues need first or immediate focus and attention.

The uses of functional assessment goes well beyond the evaluation of al elder’s needs; it can also help in health checks before being discharged from the hospital or decide whether an assisted living is necessary or not. Just as stated in SeniorAdvice.com, cognitive problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s are usually the reason for getting into assisted living or nursing homes. It helps because the elders would then have the help of staff members with their medication, personal care, and other needs that they can’t do on their own but still have the privacy and independence that they need.

Depending on the needed assistance and medical help, the cost of a health care facility, private nurse, or assisted living can vary. Factors such as level of care, room, and location are among that could influence the cost. Elders should not be wary of getting a functional assessment, because it is only aimed to help them make sure that they are in good heath and are well taken care of depending on their needs.

Reckless Driving: A Serious Threat to People’s Lives and Properties

Cars are not just today’s most common means of transportation, they are also convenient, comfortable and a fast way of getting to one’s destination. There are times, however, when driving can be such an unpleasant task because of slow traffic, road constructions, detours, and slow-moving or large amounts of pedestrians. Slow-moving traffic can easily make many drivers impatient, thus, some do whatever will get them ahead of everyone else, even to the point of being reckless on the road.

Before approving any application for a driver’s license, The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires that applicants undergo formal driving lessons and go through written and actual driving tests to ensure that they have learned and developed proper road behavior. This is because driving is a privilege, not a right; therefore, no one can or should drive as if he or she owns the road. Simply put, public roads and highways should be no place for anyone who would fit the description of “reckless driver”.

A reckless driver, as defined under the laws of the United States, is a person who willfully and wantonly disregards the safety of persons and properties. The following instances are considered examples of reckless driving in some parts, or in the whole of the US:

  • Overtaking an ambulance or a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading passengers
  • Failing to use signal light when turning, slowing down, or stopping
  • Driving above speed limit in parking areas and public roads
  • Maneuvering improperly
  • Overtaking another vehicle on a one lane road or overtaking two vehicles simultaneously on a highway by driving in the lane of on-coming traffic or on the shoulder
  • Drowsing off while driving, driving the opposite direction on a one-way street, and parking in a highway
  • Passing a car where the view of oncoming traffic is obstructed, like on a curve or on the crest of a hill
  • Running a red light or a stop sign
  • Driving a vehicle that has defective parts, like faulty brakes or worn out tires.

Reckless driving is a serious traffic violation because it is a threat to people’s lives and properties. It is considered a misdemeanor, but can be raised to Class A misdemeanor (which means jail sentence of up to 12 months and/or a $5,000 fine) or felony if it causes injuries or death (a felony is a more serious offense with a punishment of more than one year jail sentence in a state prison). In some states, reckless drivers can also have their driver’s license suspended or revoked; however, if the violation is committed in Federal territories, such as the George Washington Parkway, the Pentagon area, the Quantico area, in military bases, or in Northern Virginia Federal government facilities, then offenders are sure to face heavier penalties.

No one can be more aware of the dangers of reckless driving and the severity of injuries resulting from road accidents caused by reckless drivers than personal injury lawyers all across the US. These injuries, more than damage to properties, are the real sources of many other sufferings to victims and their families. According to the websites of some Tennessee personal injury lawyers, costly medical treatment and medication, days of absence from work, resulting to lost wages, or even the possibility of disability, which can totally alter victim’s lives, are just a few of the scary consequences that can result from someone’s reckless road behavior. Things like these are what drive lawyers to defend victims and help them seek justice against those who fail to respect people and share the road in a respectable manner.

Driving recklessly is a choice and, though accidents are never intended, drivers who choose to be reckless should understand that they put lives on the line the moment they start not to care about the safety of others – this is just one major driving mistake that needs to be carefully monitored and punished.