BP Oil Spill Claims and Non-Profit Organizations

British Petroleum (BP) has recently suffered a series of setbacks in court when first one appeal and then another was denied by the Fifth Circuit Court. BP has been in legal hot water ever since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The incident caused millions of gallons of oil to spill into the water, affecting the environment as well as thousands of businesses and individuals in the coastal areas of 5 surrounding states.

The oil giant had attempted to reverse claims made by non-profit organizations to the settlement program put up by BP to avoid individual lawsuits. BP alleges some non-profits that received compensation were not directly affected by the oil spill. The administrator, BP argued, “misunderstood” the terms of the settlement program, and should be replaced. Judge Carl Barbier was not impressed by the arguments and denied the motion.

According to the website of law firm Williams Kherkher, non-profit organizations have been in the forefront of the cleanup and rehabilitation operations in the wake of the BP oil spill. They were obliged to expend considerable resources to do the work, and at the same time experienced a downturn in incoming funds partly because local donors had their own money problems. Many non-profit organizations faced imminent cessation of operations directly and indirectly because of the oil spill, and this makes them eligible to make a claim.

This is the crux of the matter when it comes to BP oil spill claims and non-profits. As the website of BP claim appeal lawyer at Williams Kherkher outlines: even if they were not directly affected by the disaster, if they can demonstrate a deficit occurred after the spill compared to before the spill, they can make a claim. If you represent a non-profit organization and would like to make a claim, it would be advisable to consult with a competent BP oil spill lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity.

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The Truth about Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy for a lot of people is a dirty word. A bankrupt is someone who is lazy, opportunistic, and financially irresponsible. A bankrupt is someone who wants to avoid paying the piper.

The reality is bankruptcy law is a piece of protective legislation. According to the website of Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, it is designed to be the last resort for people who have lost the capacity to pay their debts because of illness of the individual or family member, serious injury, loss of employment, or other overwhelming circumstances not under their control that can hit even the most diligent, honorable, and financially responsible person. This is a scenario that is unfortunately all too familiar to a lot of people, especially in the last decade.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in particular is a decision that is not to be taken on a whim. It will help an individual burdened by unpayable debt despite good faith efforts to discharge them and give them a fresh start, but it will also require liquidating all assets (with some exemptions, depending on the state) accumulated so far. That can be devastating for most people. And it is not easy to qualify for it either.

To discourage deadbeats from exploiting the law, Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically requires that the applicant pass a means test, which will determine if there are grounds to grant legal protection to an individual from creditors. A successful applicant will take a hit on their credit score and also be barred from filing again within 7 years, so if the financial situation is not so dire, Chapter 7 may not be the right solution to your problems.

It is not easy to make the right decision when it comes to bankruptcy. It would be advisable to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer in your state to help you decide if filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is your best option at this point.

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Consequences of Driving without Insurance

Liability car insurance for a registered vehicle is mandatory in all states in the US, and some states have other requirements as well i.e. personal injury protection in some no-fault states. This is in line with the financial responsibility laws where a motor vehicle owner or driver provides proof of the capacity (through insurance) to cover the costs of an accident.

However, one in 7 drivers or 13.8% of all vehicle operators in US continue to get behind the wheel without insurance coverage, and the rate per state varies from 4% (Massachusetts) to 28% (Mississippi). This means that if you are injured in an accident in Mississippi, there is a 1 in 4 chance that the Mississippi driver has no insurance to cover your medical costs. You can sue the driver, of course, but that will take much more effort and time.

Uninsured drivers (or those with no mandatory proof of financial responsibility such as a surety bond) or even insured drivers who fail to keep their proof of insurance in the vehicle face different penalties depending on the state. Vehicle owners that have discontinued paying for a particular vehicle’s insurance because they have sold or otherwise relinquished ownership of it are also at risk of receiving sanctions if they fail to formally cancel the policy and inform the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) about the cancellation. In some states, this is the same as having no insurance for a registered vehicle.

The following are common sanctions for driving without a license:

  • Car registration suspension
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Fine
  • SR-22 requirement
  • Traffic citation

The SR-22 certification is particularly onerous because insurance companies levy a higher premium for those who are required it. According to the Insure on the Spot website, it can be difficult to find insurance companies who will even give it, because drivers requiring an SR-22 are considered high-risk.

These penalties are not the biggest problems for driving without insurance, however. If you are involved in an accident, you are liable for your own costs as well as of other parties. If you are unable to cover these costs, you could be facing a lawsuit that can strip you of your assets such as your home or vehicle. It just makes no sense to continue driving without insurance.

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The Issue of Public Intoxication

Being drunk in public is not only unseemly it has the potential for harm. How many videos have been show where people who have a bit too much had gone on a rampage, destroying property and assaulting strangers for no good reason?

However, the federal government has no jurisdiction over public intoxication (also known as drunk and disorderly) because Article One of the Constitution does not specifically grants Congress the power to legislate against public intoxication, including drunk driving. However, under the Tenth Amendment, state and local government can and do pass laws designed to protect the public, and that includes acts involving intoxication. As a result, state regulations on public intoxication vary widely from state to state.

In Iowa, for example, Cedar Rapids criminal defense lawyers will be familiar with the Iowa Ann. Code § 123.46 that criminalizes being intoxicated or appear intoxicated in public. A person can be arrested for being drunk in public and causing trouble if he or she refuses to accept help, and will be charged with a misdemeanor. If summarily convicted, it could result in 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, if an intoxicated person commits other offense, or is a habitual offender, this is considered Aggravated Public Intoxication and may carry up to two years in prison.

Public Intoxication in Texas, on the other hand, is a Class C misdemeanor (fine not more than $500) unless the offender is a minor and/or a repeat offender, as specified under the Texas Penal Code § 49.01. Unlike Iowa, Texas law does not require an individual to have a blood alcohol level above the legal limit for a public intoxication charge, which some claim is used by law enforcement as a means of harassment. According to the website of criminal defense lawyer Ian Inglis, even a minor charge such as public intoxication can lead to a lot of trouble for the defendant.

If you have been arrested for public intoxication, you should make the effort to get adequate representation. Consult with a competent criminal defense lawyer in your area to avoid the consequences of a conviction.

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The Purpose of Probate

Probate is not something that most people fully understand, but its purpose is simple enough: it is to ensure that the transfer of asset ownership is conducted in a legal manner. This includes real property, stocks, cash, and bank accounts among others that are in the name of the decedent. It is supervised by the court, and scrutinizes a will for illegal or irregular conditions or circumstances that may serve to invalidate the testamentary document.

In the absence of a will, probate court will nominate persons who may petition to be administrator of the estate in order of priority, who may then start the probate process unless the petition is challenged. The petition for probate can be challenged by any interested parties; if there are no disputes files, the petitioner is then named administrator of the estate. The court will then entertain claims to the estate and make a distribution based on applicable intestate succession laws.

A prolonged probate process is not always necessary upon an individual’s death. Estates with assets of $150,000 or less can avail of summary probate, sort of like a “quickie” probate that take considerably less time to execute. The cost of probate is usually dependent on the fair market value of the estate assets.

However, probate law is tricky at best, and when there are indications of fiduciary wrongdoing (i.e. executor mismanaged or embezzled assets) or there are disputes over the conditions of a will, it can get even trickier. It is fatally easy to be get less than the law provides if more aggressive claimants have retained experienced probate lawyers to represent them. It is important that when an estate in Los Angeles, for example, enters probate, an eligible heir should consult with an experienced Los Angeles probate lawyer as well.

If you are involved in the probate process, it is not advisable to wait until trouble starts to get legal advice. Consult with a probate lawyer in your area as soon as possible.

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Personal Injury or Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation insurance became mandatory for many businesses to provide protection to injured workers and to reduce the number of personal injury lawsuits that a worker may file against the employer for workplace injuries. A Champaign workers’ comp lawyer will know that a significant number of workers are injured in the workplace every year, so that works pretty well.

In general, an employee’s worker’s compensation insurance is their first and (usually) only financial recourse for workplace injuries. But like in anything that deals with the law, there are many exceptions to the rule.

Employees are consumers as well as, and according to the website of The Seegmiller Law Firm in Anaheim, they are protected by the same civil rights as anyone else in the US. For example, if the workplace injury is due to a defective product such as a malfunctioning air-conditioning unit, the employee can make a claim for workers’ compensation from your employer’s insurer and file a product liability lawsuit against the air-conditioning unit manufacturer.

On the other hand, if it can be proven that the employer acted deliberately to cause injury i.e. slammed a filing cabinet on the employee’s fingers in anger; a personal injury lawsuit can be filed against the employer. If the building administrator failed to properly maintain the common areas and the employee slipped and fell while doing work errands, filing a premises liability lawsuit may also be in order. As stated on the Hach & Rose, LLP website, when a third party is negligent, people get hurt, and they need to understand that they have a duty of care.

There are many situations when an employee may be able to get compensation for their workplace injuries from various sources. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the injury. If you have been injured in the workplace, you may not be aware of your legal options for getting compensation. Consult with a workers’ comp lawyer and a personal injury lawyer in your area to understand the big picture.

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