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When people think about maritime law, they often do not think of our modern legal system, but often immediately jump to fanciful ideas like piracy or parlays, or other outdated notions given to us by movies and television. In fact, there are still important laws on the books that govern how legal cases are handled when something happens at sea, including the Jones Act (Maritime Injury) and the Death on the High Seas Act, which helps determine liability and compensation for families who have lost a loved one in an offshore accident.

Recent, high-profile accidents like the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico have reminded the public that accidents happen off the U.S. coast, far away from the standard jurisdictions that govern our daily lives. So, it only makes sense that there must be specific laws that apply when something takes place far, far away from shore. The Death On The High Seas act was first passed in 1920 and allows for the families of a person who was killed due to negligent or reckless actions or unseaworthiness of a vessel to pursue compensation under maritime law. The act was updated in the year 2000 to include the loss of life in aircraft crashes or mishaps. Maritime law applies to accidents that occur more than three nautical miles from U.S. shores for passengers on a vessel, and more than 12 nautical miles for workers or passengers on commercial airliners.

The most common types of accidents that are covered under the Death On the High Seas Act include explosions, sunken or overturned boats, onboard fires, mechanical errors or defects, failure to properly follow safety guidelines, failure to provide necessary medical care, or failure to properly train personnel. If a person loses his or her life due to any of the reasons above (or other reasons not listed here) their immediate family may be able to file a lawsuit against the party responsible. Immediate family members are defined as spouses, parents, children, or other dependent family members, typically.

The type of compensation a person can recover under the Death on the High Seas Act will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, but usually, maritime attorneys who have experience with these type of cases (and there are several in Houston who helped handle Deepwater Horizon claims like this firm here), will help the family pursue compensation including: funeral costs, loss of companionship and future earnings, expenses related to counseling and therapy, and other financial expenses related to the death.

In the end, no one wants to lose a family member in an accident, and it is especially hard when the person is away for long periods of time while in the shipping, drilling, or fishing industries, and they lose their life far away from their loved ones. Fortunately, due to laws like the Death on the High Seas act, families have legal recourse to take if they lose a loved one due to a tragic accident on a vessel, rig, or aircraft.

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In Texas, licensed gun owners are now legally allowed to openly carry handguns in public and certain private premises, provided that the handguns are inside holsters or carried in a belt. This has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

One of the obvious advantages of open carry is that it can reduce crime. The mere fact that the public or private space has a person who is openly carrying a handgun is enough threat for bad guys to think twice, because of the possibility of retaliation and failure to commit the crime they want to commit. The fact that the handgun is openly carried is also an advantage, because it makes the handgun more accessible, and therefore the owner will be able to react and respond on time, in case a reaction or response is needed.

The overall advantage of having an open carry law in the state is safety.

Disadvantage

It can also be said that the open carry law can promote the opposite of safety. Many people, especially who are not used to having deadly weapons lying around, will not feel very comfortable if some stranger in the premises has a holstered gun.

Even though open carry can reduce crime, it can also do the opposite, and this is because of abuse of accessibility of handguns and the ease of bringing them around premises.

But the danger doesn’t just involve bad guys. Even the good guys can pose as a threat to the general public, especially if they are inexperienced. There are known instances of accidental misfires. Causes of misfires may vary, but they mostly involve accidentally dropping the gun and negligently leaving live rounds in the gun’s chambers.

Another overlooked disadvantage is the confusion regarding the law. According to the website of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, the open carry law stipulates that handguns should be in your belt or holster at all times, unless there is a legally justifiable reason to use the weapon. Even if you have such a reason, there is a chance that the police will still arrest you in the pretense that you broke the law. In other words, this open carry law can be a legal nightmare in its own right, and sometimes, you have to think if the advantages really outweigh the disadvantages.

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Emotional and Psychological Effects of Divorce on Spouses

It doesn’t matter whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, as it will always have an emotional and psychological toll to the parties involved. It doesn’t matter if you are the one who initiated the divorce, the reason why the divorce has been filed, or are merely a child that has been caught up with your parents’ issues.

Anger

Anger is an appropriate response in separation, especially if the reason behind the separation or the idea of the separation itself has a negative core idea, like when your spouse has been cheating on you or beating your children. But anger is not always a good thing, as it may result into increased irritability, which can even compromise your relationship with your children.

Anxiety

Anxiety in divorce is often rooted to the uncertainty of the future, now that you and your spouse are arguing about division of your assets and liabilities, child custody, spousal support, and other legal aspects that can tremendously change not just your future, but also the future of your children.

Emotional Alienation

The involved spouses may even focus their energies too much on the negative emotions that it may result into alienation behaviors, such as disinterest in activities, withdrawal from social interaction, and even emotional detachment to their children.

Escapist Behavior

Extreme feelings of sadness, downright depression, and low self-worth may lead to behaviors that may distract them or make them escape these emotional and psychological responses, such as overeating, oversleeping, overworking, and on the worst instances, even suicide.

Guilt

Guilt can be warranted and unwarranted. It can be justified for those who have been the initiator of divorce, but it can be unjustified for children who feel that they are the reason behind the divorce. The website of Kirker Davis, LLP even acknowledges the fact that children may be significantly affected by divorce, so it is best to talk to them about it.

Positive Effects

It is important to note, however, that the emotional and psychological effects are not always negative, and if they are, they are not always permanent. Divorce can lead to positive responses such as relief from getting out of a toxic marriage and hopefulness because of the possibility of a fresh start.

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Filing Bankruptcy may Help Homeowners Save their House from Foreclosure Under Certain Situations

 

Foreclosure is a legal process in which a creditor or lender takes possession of a property (which serves as a collateral for a loan) due to a borrower’s or mortgagor’s failure to keep on making mortgage payments to the lender. Creditors usually do not begin a foreclosure process on any property unless mortgage payments have been delayed for about two to three months. After this length of delay, some creditors (usually banks) still willingly work out deals with homeowners, like allowing them to settle unpaid mortgages through a loan modification, however, many other creditors do not and, instead, begin a foreclosure process, wherein they repossess and usually sell the unpaid property at a public auction. Proceeds from the auction will be used to repay the mortgage and any legal fees. On the part of a homeowner, who would try to do anything to save his/her house from being foreclosed on, he/she may take advantage of the loan modification solution or try other alternatives, such as filing bankruptcy.

The U.S. bankruptcy law, which originates from Title 11 of the United States Code (also called United States Bankruptcy Code) is a federal statutory law designed to help or enable consumers and businesses to either eliminate or repay their debts under the protection of a bankruptcy court.

Homeowners facing foreclosure may find bankruptcy as a tool to help them keep their house; specifically, Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 may help them accomplish this. As explained by Ryan J. Ruehle Attorney at Law, LLC, it is important for consumers and businesses to understand the different bankruptcy chapters available as each chapter is designed to address and solve specific financial problems and debtor situation.

Through Chapter 13 bankruptcy, for instance, (this is also called a wage earner’s plan), a homeowner is allowed to propose a three to five-year installment repayment plan which could allow him/her to repay all or part of his/her debts to his/her creditors. It is necessary this time, however, that a homeowner never again delay or miss mortgage payment, otherwise, there may be no other way to save his/her house from being foreclosed on.

Under Chapter bankruptcy, on the other hand, a homeowner may just be able to save his/her house but only if his/her creditor foreclosed on his/her home without following the proper procedures; this will allow him/her to file a wrongful foreclosure suit. Otherwise, if his/her creditor is able to foreclose on his/her property, there will be no means of getting his/her house back. The greatest benefit of filing Chapter 7, if this were the case, is saving the homeowner from still having to pay his/her creditor any deficiency balance (a deficiency balance arises if the proceeds from the foreclosure sale are not enough to cover the balance of the mortgages).

According to the law firm Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., wrongful foreclosure can be an extremely difficult thing to go through. A homeowner will also most likely have no idea if his/her house was being foreclosed on wrongly. This is why it may be necessary for homeowners to get help from a qualified legal counsel who may be able to help them fight for the right to keep their home.

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An Insurance Coverage Employees should Most Likely Have

 

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded more than three million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses, and 4,405 deaths. These statistical data are so much lower compared to the yearly average of accidents, injuries and deaths before 1971 (the year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA was passed into law), thanks to the consistent efforts of OSHA in implementing health and safety in work environments.

Workplace accidents resulting to injuries and deaths, however, continue to happen, making these a major concern of federal, state and local governments. Each time a worker is harmed, different issues are brought into the open, including the concerned employer’s compliance with workplace safety laws, the severity of the injury sustained by a worker and the effect it will have on this worker’s financial future.

Some accidents cause no more than minor scratches, while others are more serious, requiring days or weeks of bed rest. Some injuries are definitely severe, however, causing long term disabilities (LTD) that render a worker unable to work for months or even years, taking away his or her capability to earn wages.

It is a good thing that some employers provide their employees with a long term disability (LTD) insurance policy as part of their comprehensive employee benefits package; this is to protect their employees from losing any form of earnings during the long period when their injury or illness will keep them out of work.

As explained by the Hankey Law Office, long-term disability (or LTD) coverage is an insurance plan structured so that you receive compensation for the wages you lose as the result of an injury, illness, or any other condition that prevents you from working. It is similar to life insurance, in that it will provide you with financial compensation in the event that you suffer injury from an unexpected tragedy, but instead of covering medical expenses, it reimburses you for lost, future wages.

An LTD policy usually stays effectivity for 10 years or until the insured employee reaches the age of 65. An employee can start enjoying the benefits of his/her LTD policy after his/her short term disability insurance benefits have ended (the short term disability insurance benefits, which employers may also provide for employees or which employees may purchase on their own, typically last between three to six months).

Despite employees’ eligibility to receive LTD benefits, however, many applications get denied or are awarded benefits that are lower than what the policy stipulates. Many insurance providers, obviously, are guilty of avoiding making payments, thus, they do all things possible to deny claims, delay assessment of applications or payment of claims, or pay much lower benefits.

Since an insurance policy is a legal contract, it would be wise if the injured employee make the application for the benefits through the help of a legal expert who is adept in the LTD insurance benefits law.

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