Consequences of a Severance Agreement in New York


New York is an employment-at-will state, meaning that unless otherwise specified, employers may terminate the employment of a worker without having to provide “just cause.” Severance pay is also not required by law; it is a voluntary act by an employer, unless there is a contract in place that specifies severance pay as part of the employment, or if the employer habitually provides severance pay. In any case, if a severance agreement is offered to an employee, some important legal consequences must be kept in mind.

A severance agreement and release usually states that the employee agrees not to make a claim or file a grievance against the company, officers, affiliates and other employees in exchange for financial and other benefits as specified in the agreement. This means that the employee relinquishes all rights to take any legal actions against the employer for their termination, even if there are grounds for a complaint such as discrimination or other labor violations. This is a huge concession to make, and should not be made lightly.

Other severance agreements may also have a non-disclosure or non-competitive clause which means the terminated employee may not work for a competitor or in the same industry for a certain period of time. This can make it difficult for the employee to find work, especially in the present economic situation.

Severance agreements carry significant consequences for the employee, so a labor lawyer should be consulted before the agreement is finalized and signed. It is perfectly acceptable for an employee to request for time to study the agreement and to negotiate the terms. It has to be remembered that it will release the company from any claims that may be made against them, so the compensation offered should be commensurate to the rights being given up. When consulting with a lawyer, make sure to provide copies of the employee handbook, employment contracts if any, and the contact information of relevant past and present employees who may provide insight on what the severance agreement should include.

A Melon or a Car? Tough choice


Everything in Japan is notoriously expensive, making even well-breeched tourists blanch; what really takes the cake, though, are luxury fruits. In this naturally barren island nation, perfectly formed, blemish free fruits fetch outrageously high prices even with the country’s currently sluggish economy. A pair of special cantaloupe melons brought out only once a year in May is auctioned off; this year, the pair sold for 1.6 million yen (a little over US$16,000)! This is roughly equivalent to what one would pay for a regular car.

The rationale behind this seemingly insane overvaluation of something that will eventually rot away to nothing one way or another is its importance as a gift for valued family members, business associates, and employers. In Japan, presentation is everything, and bestowing the perfect fruit is a clear indication of the importance the giver places on the relationship with the recipient.

There are regular fruits suitable for ordinary consumption by regular people, of course. These include produce markets and groceries.

Other luxury fruits that may sport eye-popping price tags include Ruby Roman grapes, white peaches, square watermelons, cherries, strawberries, and musk melons. Each individual fruit is perfectly formed, uniformly patterned, without a bruise, and delicious. Prices may vary depending on the time of year, and buyers often know when and where to get the best fruits to give that all-important lasting impression.

NFL Concussion Lawsuit Reaches $765 Million Settlement


Years of accusations against the NFL for downplaying the dangers of concussions and traumatic brain injury culminated on Thursday as the organization agreed to a $765 million settlement with over 4,500 players. The sum, which amounts to about $170,000 per player, will fund medical exams, compensation for pain and suffering, and concussion research.

Retired judge Layn Phillips, who served as a mediator between both sides during the dispute, said the agreement will “provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed.”

“This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football,” Phillips said.

According to lawyers, players do not have to prove that their injuries were received during their time in the NFL. Instead, they will receive compensation based on their time in the league and their current age. Experts expect most of the settlement to be paid in the next three years, but it could take 17 years to pay the entire balance. One of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Christopher Seeger, said reaching the settlement was a success for the players.

“The big picture was we got immediate care to the retired players, and I think we accomplished that,” Seeger said.

Managing Medical Record Retrieval


Many legal cases hinge on successful medical record retrieval. Medical records provide the basis for claims in medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, disability, and product liability. But because the information embodied in medical records is usually confidential and sensitive, there are many restrictions for their retrieval and use, so it is no easy task to get at them. Moreover, medical records are usually detailed and extensive, and it can be a challenge to extract relevant data pursuant to a particular case. It takes skill, time and knowledge to retrieve and process medical records so that it can be used effectively in a legal proceeding.

Lawyers necessarily deal with a lot of documents when they prepare and present cases, but seldom have the time or experience to process the raw data that make up most of the records they have retrieved, such as medical records. What they present to the client, the court and the jury had been interpreted, analyzed and summarized so that those with no specialized knowledge can understand it. For example, the chart containing the details of an operation would be full of medical terms and notations that would not make sense to a person with no medical training. Lawyers would probably just be as confused, so the information is useless unless it is translated into plain language.

This is where a professional records retrieval service comes in handy. Good lawyers know the value of a good records retrieval service in saving time, money and effort when preparing for a case. Aside from knowing what authorizations to get and the correct procedure for retrieving medical records, the records retrieval service will have the personnel to filter, organize, interpret and process the data into usable form depending on the needs of the lawyer. The service would also know the protocols about using the information they retrieve so that it does not violate any laws. If there is anything that law firms should outsource, it is medical record retrieval.

When is Possession of Marijuana not a Crime in Illinois?


There is a tendency for most people to shrug off possession of marijuana, something that is not common for possession of other controlled substances. Yet it is a controlled substance, and as a rule mere possession of marijuana carries quite severe criminal consequences in Illinois. But there are exceptions to the rule.

Illinois has most recently passed a bill through the state senate to legalize medical marijuana under the name “The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.” In its rationale, the authors of the bill cited research where marijuana has been found to be efficacious in alleviating pain and nausea associated with treatment protocols for serious debilitating medical conditions such as AIDS, multiple sclerosis, cancer and hepatitis C.

However, as of this publication, the bill has yet to be signed into law by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. While the bill is generally popular in Illinois, it is still not legal to possess marijuana even if you have a medical reason for it.
However, there are cities in Illinois where possession of marijuana or cannabis paraphernalia may be treated as not a crime if it is less than 10 grams. Instead of being charged as a misdemeanor, an offender may get off with a fine ranging from $50 to $500. These include Carbondale, the cities of Cook County, Urbana, Sugar Grove, and Evanston. In Chicago, the threshold is 15 grams, while in the city of Salem, it is 30 grams. Because it is not a crime, there is no jail time involved and it does not attach a criminal record to your name. It should be noted, though, that this is not automatic. It is an option given to the arresting officer, and it is not available for all areas in Illinois. Moreover, even if some states have selectively decriminalized possession of marijuana, it is still a federal offense.

If you are ever in a position where you are caught with possession of even a miniscule amount of marijuana, you should admit nothing until you have the consulted with an experienced criminal lawyer. Even if you are in a city that has decriminalized marijuana possession, it is still a slippery slope that you should not negotiate on your own. Laws are open to interpretation, and you need someone qualified to protect your rights and to keep you from getting a criminal record.

Risky Business with Refinery Accidents


It seems that BP just cannot catch a break when it comes to oil. Prior to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 which made the Gulf of Mexico a toxic wasteland and set the company back billions of dollars, there was the refinery accident in Texas City in 2005 in which a hydrocarbon vapor cloud caused an explosion, killing 15 people and injuring many others.

In both cases, BP and its contractors were found to have been negligent in the sense that there were numerous instances of failing to follow safety regulations. In the Texas City refinery accident, the plant had been found to be in poor condition months prior to the explosion. The company was required to pay huge fines for federal environmental and occupational safety violations as well as millions in claims by the families of those who died and were injured. BP eventually sold the refinery to pay off their obligations.

Oil refineries and oil rigs are inherently dangerous work places, which is why it is so important that those who own such businesses should make safety a priority. Cost-cutting measures at the expense of safety, competence and efficiency usually end badly for all concerned. In the case of BP, plagued by one industrial disaster after another, one would suppose that those in authority should have learned their lesson. Negligence in the workplace costs so much in terms of money and life that it just doesn’t make sense to keep doing it. And yet there are so many instances when big businesses continue making the same mistake over and over again.

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a refinery accident due to negligence as a worker or otherwise, the only way to prevent it from happening again is to bring attention to the consequences of ignoring safety regulations. Get a refinery accident lawyer in Texas to represent you to recover your damages and let your story be heard.

Premises liability for Inadequate Security in New Jersey


Commercial establishments have a duty of care towards the people who are invitees to their property or premises. In New Jersey, the laws concerning negligent security, also known as inadequate security, follows fairly universal legal principles of duty of care and premises liability. This includes the responsibility of providing reasonable safety and security measures such as well-maintained facilities, fire escapes, safe surroundings, vetted staff, and security checks and personnel. This is especially true of retail businesses, banks and hospitality industries such as hotels because the nature of the business requires the physical presence of their clients on their premises.

However, when it comes to personal injury claims based on inadequate security, the laws are open to interpretation as is true in most cases. The terminology used in the legislation can be tricky if incorrectly handled during litigation. For example, “reasonable” can mean many things, depending on circumstances and, unless there is clear negligence on the part of the premises owner, proving that there was a breach of the duty of care can be difficult.

Inadequate security lawyers are necessarily well-versed in the way the law is interpreted in their particular jurisdiction. New Jersey attorneys make a thorough study of New Jersey court decisions on negligent security to develop a sense of how the courts tend to interpret particular sections of the current law. In many instances, court decisions serve as a precedent used as a legal basis for arguments in favor or against a plaintiff. Such decisions have particular weight if they are upheld in higher courts because the emphasis at these levels of the judicial system tends to be on the legal rather than personal aspects of a case. This objectivity tends to lend a particular interpretation of the law a lot of credibility.

If you suffered some type of personal injury because of negligent security at a particular establishment, you should have your case assessed by an inadequate security lawyer before filing a lawsuit. A good New Jersey lawyer would be able to give sound advice on the probable outcome of your case, and if it is worth pursuing.

Required Bus Driver Training in Iowa


Bus driver training is not the same as regular driver training. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) requires potential bus drivers to pass a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) knowledge exam before they can even get a CDL learner’s permit. You can get a copy of the Model Commercial Driver License Manual from the Iowa DOT website, and pay particular attention to relevant portions of the guide. For example, if you expect to be driving a school bus, you need to know the rules and regulations pertaining to school busses.

The CDL learner’s permit is required for a driver to undergo a hands-on skills exam in preparation for getting your CDL. You may need to undergo training with accredited schools, but it is not actually a requirement. However, if you have no training with the commercial vehicle you intend to drive, you may not pass the skills exam. Once you pass the skills exam, you have to undergo a medical exam (which includes visual acuity) to determine your physical fitness to drive a commercial vehicle. You have to undergo this exam every time you renew your CDL.

Bus driver training is a specialized course and bus companies usually require some certification from a training school accredited with the local bus service association together with the CDL before hiring a driver. If you want to start a career as a commercial or school bus driver, it would be best to invest in the proper training.

There are many rules and regulations pertaining to commercial motor vehicles, but bus driver training is especially crucial because the lives of passengers are at stake. Passenger bus companies have the responsibility of ensuring the bus drivers they hire are competent. When bus accidents happen because the driver did not have the proper training to transport 16 or more passengers, the liability for any injuries or deaths are shared by the driver and the bus company. If you or someone close to you was adversely affected by the lack of training of a bus driver, consult with a bus accident lawyer regarding a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver and the bus company.

Causes of Refinery Explosions


A refinery explosion is a very devastating event; it can lead to extensive damage, severe injuries, and even death. In these modern times, the use of many chemicals is very common that we have a whole industry specializing in extracting, producing and marketing these products. However, although they have become more accessible, people who are responsible in making these products an everyday convenience are put in a lot of risks and dangers. Accidents that occur in these industrial plants can leave to extreme property damages, severe injuries and even death.

There are many reasons as to what can cause a refinery explosion. Different situations can lead to different reasons for an explosion, some more often or prevalent than others. Natural disasters such as earthquakes or lightning storms can be a factor to these explosions, but other common reasons are:

  1. Unseen corrosion (when metal is slowly worn down through a gradual process)
  2. Irresponsible cigarette smoking (especially around the working areas)
  3. Improper or poor equipment or machinery maintenance
  4. Poorly trained employees (particularly in safety and first aid procedures)
  5. Using impure or dirty chemicals Incorrectly cared for boilers

Blatant violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety rules and regulations is a sure fire way to increase the chances of a refinery explosion. Other reasons for such catastrophe are well blowouts, poor labeling of chemicals or other products, and unsafe and overlooked procedures. Majority of the reasons for these explosions are preventable and man-made, making it an even more devastating and tragic accident.

Because of the volatility of the products in these refineries, even a small explosion can result to a huge catastrophe. Companies who neglect to provide proper safety training or fail to monitor their facilities only opens up the potential of a refinery explosion. Even a small explosion can cause severe physical, emotional, and financial strains to everyone involved. An explosion in an oil refinery can always have devastating consequences.

False Workers’ Compensation Claims


Being injured while on the job can be very frustrating – aside from enduring an injury, being away from work for a long period of time can cause financial strains to you and your family. One way that employers help their employees during these cases are through worker’s compensation. Worker’s comp is a law that helps protect both the employers and the employees once an injury has occurred during working hours, dismissing the need to go to court.

Worker’s compensation can provide two-thirds of the employee’s monthly salary during the disability, and this compensation can increase if the disability becomes permanent (or if the employee has dependents). This compensation is given to help cover for the medical expenses, and are limited to disability or death during the performance of duties during working hours. It can also cover wages lost while the employee recovers from the injury. It does not cover for death or injuries that occur because of the employee’s own doing or because of intoxication.

Even with the willingness of companies to provide worker’s comp to their employees, there are still cases where fraud occurs. According to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, Millions of dollars are often wasted on employees who file for fraudulent worker’s compensation cases. The most common are:

  • Old injuries – when a worker has already suffered an injury long ago but claims it as a new injury to acquire medical care.
  • Inflating injuries – an employee lies about the seriousness of the injury so that they can acquire more worker’s compensation and stay away from work longer.
  • Lingering injuries – when an employee pretends that his or her injury is still there even through it has fully healed.
  • Faking injuries – in order to claim for worker’s compensation, a worker fakes an injury that never happened.
  • Remote injury – when an employee is injured during off-hours (or while away from work) but claims that the injury occurred on the job so that they can file for worker’s comp.

Worker’s compensation is already a law that every company is required to provide, so every employee has the right to ask for compensation once an injury has occurred. If these benefits are not given, employees can call for a court hearing to get the compensation. Worker’s comp is every employee’s right.

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