Restraining and Protective Orders

,In issues that involve domestic violence, survivors of the abuse have some civil and criminal protection and restraining order options available to them. These orders can deter further abuse, as they permit the victim to contact the police and have the abuser arrested if they break the order. Yet, there are abusers that will attempt to stalk or hurt the victim, despite orders that may be in place.

In numerous states, if the police encounter a domestic violence situation, one of the two parties is requested to leave the home. This person is often the abuser; however, the police can determine who the aggressor is. The police can give the victim an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) in an urgent situation. This EPO is a short-term protection order that is usually given by the police to the victim when his or her abuser is arrested for domestic violence. The EPO is limited, as it can last about three to seven days. This permit allows the victim some time to get the longer-term protection order.

All US states have statutes for a protection order. It may be called a protective order, orders of protection or a domestic violence restraining order. They all serve the same purpose — to protect the victim from the abuser. The long-term protection order can last one to five years, and in some extreme circumstances, for up to a lifetime. Additionally, the protection order can be renewed by the victim, if he or she still feels that there is a real threat from the abuser.

The protective orders have different provisions, including no contact provision, peaceful contact provision, stay away provision, move out provision and a firearms provision. Then there is the counseling provision that orders the abuser to attend counseling, such as batterer’s intervention or anger management classes.

These protection orders not only cover the victim. These orders can include children of the victim, other children, family members, roommates or anyone that may be living in the same household as the victim, such as a significant other. The same rules of no contact and staying away apply to the other listed individuals, even if they have not been physically harmed by the abuser.

As part of the protection order, some states include visitation and custody for children of both the victim and abuser. This is typically temporary and can be changed or modified by divorce or further family court orders.

However, if protection orders are violated, it can be treated in one of three ways – as a felony, misdemeanor or as a contempt of court. The felony charges are usually reserved for repeat or serious violations. In many states, it is the policy for police to arrest violators of these orders automatically.

No one should have to deal with domestic violence. If you or your children are in immediate danger, law enforcement needs to be contacted immediately. Furthermore, a family law attorney in your area, like Kessler & Solomiany, LLC, can file necessary paperwork on your behalf and can advocate for you in court.

Accidents in Harris County

According to figures released by the Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS), accidents accounted for 1,185 deaths in Harris County in 2002. While the statistics are approximately five years old at this point (it isn’t often that you find the most up-to-date stats from government entities) it is still important to note just how many people are injured in Houston each and every year.

What is worse is that so many of these accidents could have been avoided if an individual or party involved had behaved in a responsible manner, but so many of them are ultimately found to be caused by reckless or negligent actions of one or more parties. When you dig into the details of these accidents, you discover that a large number (nearly half) of these fatal accidents are vehicle collisions.

This, unfortunately, is unsurprising, given how many cars are on the road in Houston each and every day. The city has experienced explosive growth over the past decade (or more) and drivers in Houston find themselves in gridlocked traffic from Katy to Downtown, or from Downtown to the Woodlands, and every suburb and neighborhood in this city.

The 577 total deaths in “transport accidents” only tells part of the story. A full 520 of those fatalities occurred in car, truck, or motorcycle accidents, while 20 could be attributed to other land transport accidents (ATVs, bicycles, etc.), and the final 17 could be attributed to water, air, space, and unspecified accidents.

The majority (by a rather slim margin, comparatively) are non-transport accidents, which totaled 608 fatalities in 2002. Of those, 110 individuals died in a slip-and-fall accident, 40 from accidental drowning, 26 from exposure to fire, flames, or smoke, 254 to accidental poisoning, 4 to accidental discharge of firearms, and 174 to non-reported accidents that were not transport related.

Overall, these numbers tell a strong tale of how individuals in Houston are exposed to daily dangers that can potentially lead to fatal accidents. While some accidents are unavoidable, a large majority of them could be prevented if people had taken the proper safety precautions or had behaved in a responsible manner. When it comes to vehicle accidents, people have a responsibility to obey speed limits, drive while sober, and drive without distractions behind the wheel to help prevent unnecessary accidents. Property owners have a responsibility to maintain their homes or businesses in a manner that prevents unnecessary falls or slips, and if an area presents a danger to others, they must put up proper signage to warn people of the potential dangers.

Dangerous industries such as factories, refineries, and oil rigs should have proper training and safety procedures in place to prevent workplace accidents such as explosions and fires, which are often very deadly for workers who happen to be present.

All of these precautions can help people stay safe while working, traveling, and going about their daily lives in Houston. While Harris County is a busy area and is constantly growing, it’s citizens must remember to protect each other while living and working in this area.

A Felony DUI’s may Leave You with a Criminal Record, Hefty Fine, and a Lengthy Jail Sentence on Top of Civil Penalties

Drunk-driving or alcohol-impaired driving is the cause of at least 10,000 fatal car crashes in the U.S. every year. Records from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics also show that each year, at least 1.4 million individuals are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or both.

In all U.S. states, driving with a 0.08% (or higher) blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is a crime. A first offense DUI is usually treated as a misdemeanor; it is considered a more serious offense if the alcohol-impaired driver injures or kills someone, or if his/her BAC level is higher than 0.08%.

Many federal and state authorities are determined and overzealous in catching violators of the anti-drunk driving law, thus, they are sharp and focused on observing any signs of drunk-driving, such as braking erratically, driving too slowly, swerving, stopping for no apparent reason or zig-zagging across the road. For the same end, they set up sobriety checkpoints to check on alcohol-impaired drivers, as well as measure their BAC level.

A felony DUI is punished with costly fines and at least one year jail time. In some states, a felony leads to other heavy sentences, such as:

  • Mandatory installation of an Ignition interlock device, a device that will prevent a vehicle from starting if it detects in the driver a BAC level that is higher than what is considered a safe level (about 0.02%);
  • Administrative license suspension (ALS), a law that gives law enforcers the authority to confiscate a driver’s license if the driver fails a chemical test. This can last for 90 days – 180 days, during which driving privileges may be limited to/from work;
  • Open container law. This law, which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), requires states to prohibit the possession of open alcohol beverage containers, as well as the consumption of an alcoholic beverage, in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on public highways.

A driver ought to understand that being charged with felony DUI is a very serious matter. It should make him/her think twice before sitting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Unlike misdemeanors, felony DUI’s are issued when an inebriated driver engages in reckless driving or traffic violations that cause the death or great bodily injury of another. Great bodily injury is legally defined as an injury that causes a substantial risk of death, serious or permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of a body part or organ.

Felony DUI’s also have more serious and long-term penalties that can ruin one’s life. A conviction may leave you with a criminal record, hefty fine, and a lengthy jail sentence on top of civil penalties. The seriousness of such charges warrants the qualified counsel of a proficient felony DUI attorney.



Job injuries and the Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) show that, in 2007, worker death tolls were 5,488 for job injuries, which are injuries occurring in relation to one’s job, or injuries that arise due to, and during, employment, and 49,000 for job-related injuries, or injuries which may be sustained even outside of the company’s premises (in connection to this, the U.S. Department of Labor considers as work-related any injury sustained by those working at home or working in a home office, so long as such injury or illness is directly related to the work they are being paid for); about 4 million workers were also reported to have suffered non-fatal work-related injuries. Most of these injuries involved workers in construction sites, where millions of workers are employed and regularly exposed to heavy equipment, sharp tools, toxic substances, and many other possible causes of bodily harm.

Although accidents resulting to injuries or death may occur in any type of working environment, these remain most common in construction sites due to the presence of many different dangerously sharp and heavy tools, hazardous substances, and machinery which, if not correctly operated or maintained, can cause terrible accidents.

Whatever type of accident occurs, this, as stated by a Brownsville accident lawyer, can cause victims face a variety of setbacks after their injury, including painful recovery periods, expensive treatments, lost time at work, and emotional distress. The most common causes of workplace injuries include:

  • Violent acts due to arguments and office politics;
  • Continuous repetitive motion, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and back pains;
  • Getting entangled in machines in factories;
  • Driving as part of work;
  • Getting struck by an object (or by a vehicle – for those working in construction sites);
  • Getting hit by a falling object;
  • Falling from a ladder, the roof, stairs, or any elevated place;
  • Slipping and/or tripping, which happens to be the second most common cause of workplace injury; and,
  • Overexertion, due to carrying, pulling, pushing, holding or lifting heavy objects.

Regardless of the cause of injury or whose fault it may be, a worker is entitled to file for benefits with the Workers’ Compensation or Workers’ Comp. This insurance benefit was introduced during the early part of the 20th century to provide immediate and sure financial assistance to workers who sustain a job-related injury or who develop an occupational illness.

Availing of Workers’ Compensation benefits, though, requires an injured worker to relinquish his/her right to file a tort suit against his/her employer to further seek compensation. This is because Workers’ Comp was established as a trade-off: receive the benefits, but give up your right to sue your employer. However, an injured worker may rather decide not to avail of the benefits for the right to pursue legal action against his/her employer. This is the path taken by those who are confident that they can prove that the accident was intended by their employer, that the employer does not carry Workers’ Comp or, that the injury is too severe or may lead to death, so that the amount of benefits offered does not fully cover the damages caused by the injury.

While allowing workers to receive compensation for any accidental injury is truly a huge benefit, making sure that this benefit should really be accepted is equally important. Thus, seeking legal advice which may help clarify a victim’s rights and legal options may be a necessary move.

Abuse and Neglect Continuously Threaten the Well-being of Nursing Home Residents

The American Association for Justice says that about 90% of nursing home facilities do not have enough qualified nurses and trained personnel capable of providing residents with the quality care they need.

Nursing home facilities, also called Skilled Nursing Facilities, Nursing Centers, Convalescent Care or Long Term Care Facilities, are designed for those who require round the clock custodial and skilled nursing care; these include adults, usually those at least 65 years old, those physically or mentally incapacitated, and people who are ill and in need of rehabilitative therapy, such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Since these individuals are no longer capable of performing even the basic activities in daily living, trained facility staff members are tasked to provide them custodial care, which includes eating, bathing, toileting and getting dressed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of February of 2015, about 1.4 million residents are housed in 15,700 registered nursing homes facilities in different parts of the U.S. Despite the need to house their elder loved one in a nursing home and despite the thousands of nursing facilities in each state, though, many families are unsure about which facility they should choose due to the widespread cases of neglect and abuse that cause residents to suffer physical injuries, emotional trauma, humiliation, self-pity, hatred, despair, and so forth.

In a study conducted by a research team from the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, it is shown that from January 1999 to January 2001, about 9,000 instances of abuse in 5,283 nursing home facilities were committed. These abuses or lack of care included inadequate medical care, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, and acts that resulted to dehydration, untreated bedsores, preventable accidents, and malnutrition, among others. Besides physical abuse, though, residents were also subjected to other forms of unjust treatment, including financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse and, the most degrading of all, sexual abuse.

The Nursing Home Reform Act that was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1987 mandates the provision of services and activities that are gird towards the attainment or maintenance of the highest possible physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of the residents in accordance with a written plan of care. Despite this law, however, nursing home abuses and acts of neglect continue to be committed, mostly by facility employees themselves.

Abusive nursing home aides and/or nurses can be charged with a federal offense punishable with a long jail term; they and/or the nursing home facility that employed them can also be ordered by the court to pay compensation to the victim or the victim’s family due to the pain and other damages suffered by the victim. Any sign or even hint of abuse, a family of a nursing home patient should never hesitate consulting with a skilled attorney, who can help investigate and verify the matter.

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