Posts by Leajean

Capital Drivers Crash Twice as Much as Anyone Else

A recent report from the Allstate America’s Best Drivers pinpoints Washington, D.C. as a city where drivers crashed nearly three times as frequently as the national average in 2013. If you are a driver in the nation’s capital, you are likely to be involved in a vehicular crash every 4.8 years. New York drivers, including cab drivers, are involved in car accidents every 7.3. years, while Houston and Chicago average 8 years. Other danger zones include the cities of San Francisco, Newark, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Miami.

In contrast, drivers in Colorado clock in at 13.9 years, earning the encomium as the safest state to drive in nationwide. Other safe places to be for motorists include Sioux Falls in South Dakota, Madison in Wisconsin, Boise in Idaho, Tucson in Arizona, and Brownsville in Texas, plus 15 other cities, most of which have less than 500,000 inhabitants.

The report concludes that driving in the big city is inherently more dangerous than in small towns. This is understandable as there is less traffic and emergencies, fewer public transportation and large vehicles, and infrequent crosswalks which constitute the cause of most car accidents. Another factor may be the faster pace of life in the big city, where everyone is rushing about and doing several things at the same time, leading to speeding and distracted driving.

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Understanding Long-term Disability Repayment

It can happen that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will overpay a beneficiary, and may ask for long-term disability repayment. According to the website of the Hankey Law Office, P.C., a law firm in Indianapolis, Indiana is one of the states with the lowest approval rates compared to the national average. The most common reasons for an overpayment are:

  • Failure to inform the SSA of changes in your financial situation
  • Marriage
  • Improvements in physical disability
  • Return to work or increase in income
  • Errors made by SSA in computation or double payment of benefits

In Indiana, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits of a claimant are based on the determination of the state’s Disability Determination Service Bureau, but they can make mistakes in approval as well as denial. When the SSA eventually learns of the overpayment, they will send a letter to explain why an overpayment was made and request a long-term disability repayment. Even when the overpayment is not your fault, you are still obliged to pay it back unless you can get a partial or full waiver. The letter should also specify your options for payment and the right to appeal both the overpayment and long-term disability and request a waiver if:

  • It will represent a hardship for you to repay the amount overpaid
  • You do not believe it was an overpayment

However, it is important to communicate your concerns with the SSA as soon as possible. Ignoring the letter may result in wage garnishment or asset seizure to cover the amount owed. The SSA will always work with a beneficiary to make long-term disability repayment as painless as possible, but still it may be a stressful and difficult process.

If you are disputing the overpayment claim, or requesting a waiver, you may have to go through a complex process that is not always easy for a layman to make sense of. It would be best to consult with a long-term disability lawyer in Indiana to assist in your case.

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FMLA Employer Rules in Texas

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is a federal law that requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with unpaid leave for medical and family reasons without fear of losing their position or job. In Texas, the law is reiterated under the Texas Government Code in Section 661.912 (Family and Medical Leave Act) although it is essentially the same as that described by the federal government. There are no special state laws regarding family and medical leave aside from the FMLA in Texas. Even then, according to the website of Houston-based Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., covered employers still attempt to deny eligible employees with their rights under the FMLA.

Private and public employers in Texas with a minimum of 50 employees within a 75 mile radius in the previous 20 weeks or so are covered by the FMLA. To comply with the regulations, all employers covered by the law should:

  • Post a notice of FMLA employer responsibilities and employee rights
  • Include adequate information regarding the FMLA in the employee handbook or as part of the orientation for new hires
  • Determine if the leave being requested by an employee may qualify as FMLA leave and to inform the employee if it is, and the deductions from FMLA entitlement that will result

Employers are barred from refusing an eligible employee’s request to avail of FMLA or to discourage employees from applying for FMLA benefits. An employer may also be subject to sanctions for discriminating or retaliating against an employee who has applied for FMLA, complained of unlawful behavior of an employer regarding the FMLA or for filing or testifying against an employer for FMLA-related charges.

FMLA enforcement is undertaken by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, and will receive complaints and allegations of FMLA violations against employers in Texas. Furthermore, an employee may be eligible to bring a civil case against a noncompliant employer. Check with an experienced FMLA attorney to know more about your options.

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Coping with Bus Accident Injuries

Recently, a multiple-vehicle accident involving two buses, an 18-wheeler, and a car resulted in a massive traffic jam on Connecticut’s I-95 and injuries to at least 10 people. There were no fatalities, but the bus accident injuries could have been avoided if the driver of one bus was able to brake in time. The bus driver and the motorist were both cited for not maintaining safe following distances.

Bus accident injuries happen far less frequently than car accident injuries. However, bus accident injuries can all too easily turn serious if not deadly, especially on the highway because of its sheer size, the presence of passengers and high speeds. Most buses which travel on US highways travel long-distances, which is why the drivers are held to higher standards than normal motorists.

Bus drivers need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in their employment, and these have stringent requirements because these drivers literally hold the lives of others in the palm of their hands. When a bus driver violates regulations and is over-fatigued, driving under the influence, or simply incompetent, it renders the driver as well as the operator liable for bus accident injuries that may occur. In most cases, bus drivers receive safety training and know to follow the rules of the road to keep their passengers safe.

But there are always exceptions.

Some drivers follow other large vehicles too closely, as what recently occurred on I-95. In that instance, the 18-wheeler had been cut by another vehicle, forcing the big rig to suddenly brake. The bus behind the truck also braked on time. Unfortunately, the bus behind the first bus was following too closely and rammed the first bus, sending it forward to ram the truck. The car, which was following the second bus, was also unable to stop on time.

Both the second bus and the motorist may be considered liable for bus accident injuries that occurred in this instance, but that is something to be determined after investigation.

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Steps for Requesting Visitation Modification in California

The court’s decision regarding custodial arrangements is not set in stone. As a child gets older, or the situation changes for one or both parents, it may be necessary or desirable to make a request for visitation modification. In fact, parents in California may find that they will need to make changes to the custodial agreement every 3 years or so. This is easy enough to do if the child’s parents are in accord, but it there is a problem reaching an agreement, it may be necessary to get legal assistance in filing for a visitation modification in a court in California.

When requesting for a formal visitation modification, the first thing the requesting parent has to do is to provide documentation showing why the changes are necessary to serve the best interest of the child. If the change in circumstances only affect the parent and not the child, it is harder to get the court’s approval for visitation modification as it is the priority of California courts to encourage a consistent and stable parenting arrangement.

To go ahead with requesting for visitation modification in a California court, the requesting parent needs to:

  1. Fill out Form FL-300 (Request for Order) and optionally Form FL-341 (Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment). These will detail the proposed new arrangement
  2. Have the form/s checked out by a qualified lawyer experienced in visitation modification requests to ensure everything is correctly filled out
  3. Make copies of the forms for keeping, sending to the other parent and submission to the court
  4. Submit the form/s to the court clerk and pay the filing fee
  5. Receive two copies stamped “Filed” and a court date, or a mediator date if required
  6. Have someone else serve the other parent in person or by mail with the filed application and Form FL-320 (Responsive Declaration to Request for Order) at least 16 days prior to the assigned court date, depending on if Item 4 and “Court Order” boxes of your Form FL-300 are checked. If they are, the papers must be served in person
  7. Have the server file a properly filled out Form FL-330 (Proof of Service) or Form FL-335 (Proof of Service by Mail)
  8. Determine if attendance to mediation orientation or child custody recommending counseling is necessary
  9. Attend court hearing or mediation, whichever is applicable

Forms that may be useful

  • Form FL-341(A)- Supervised Visitation Order
  • Form FL-341(B) – Child Abduction Prevention Order Attachment
  • FormFL-341(C) – Children’s Holiday Schedule Attachment
  • Form FL-341(D) – Physical Custody Attachment Form
  • FL-341(E) – Joint Legal Custody Attachment

There is a lot of work that goes into getting a visitation schedule modified. Being aware of the legal process involved can help you improve your chances of getting the desired outcome.

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