What Does an Immigration Lawyer Do?

Because tension surrounding immigration has gotten so intense in the US in the last few years, I felt compelled to educate myself. So, I decided to look into how immigrants are protected under the law. During my research, I was drawn to the profile of an immigration lawyer from the University of Southern Mississippi. She discovered she wanted to be an immigration lawyer when she talked to international students at her school and heard their problems with the US immigration system.

The article sheds light on the unfortunate fact that many immigration lawyers, especially in border states, have to help their clients with problems other than what their case entails. For example, one of this lawyer’s clients had Type 1 diabetes but did not have access to insulin in the detention center he was forced to stay in until his case was cleared. He often blacked out after going days without the insulin he needed to survive. His immigration lawyer had to help him get insulin as well as deal with his actual immigration case. This seems completely inhumane to me. This man, who was from Cuba originally, almost died while in US custody and might have died if his lawyer had not been so attentive.

Other issues immigration lawyers may have to deal with include:

  • Helping to reunite separated families
  • Helping a client who is seeking asylum 
  • Helping a client obtain a visa or a green card
  • Defending a client who is being deported

After conducting research on the topic, it seems to me like immigration lawyers wear multiple hats. They have to be outstanding in a courtroom while also remaining compassionate and understanding on a personal level. People who need immigration lawyers are usually in a really difficult spot, and the stakes are really high: their lives could be on the line. People who are being deported back to a dangerous place could potentially die if their lawyer is unable to help them. 

The Law Office of William Jang, PLLC, defends immigrants and operates out of Austin, TX. Their website states that they want to help families “achieve the American dream,” and for a lot of people, this is far too difficult a task to manage alone. Good immigration lawyers are in high demand because their skills are so necessary to the happiness of so many people.

As a country, we need to review our stance on immigration, and hopefully make an easier path for people who want to come into the US. It’s good to know, however, that immigration lawyers are doing what they can to help people who need it. There are a lot of people who turn their backs on sad events, but it’s important that we all stay aware of the problems that are going on around us so that we can make sure to help someone else out if we are able.

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How We Can Keep Our Austin City Trees Healthy

Green space is important in any city, but it really is one of the qualities visitors and residents love best about Austin in particular. Its part of what makes Austin stand out compared to the rest of Texas, a quality that shows Austin is like nowhere else around.

Everyone who lives in and around Austin knows that its special. However each of us defines that specialness, part of it will always come from the look, the feel, of Austin. And part of that look and feel, that freshness, comes from our trees and green spaces.

That fact has me thinking about how we need to work hard to keep Austin looking green. It might sound apocalyptic, but other cities and towns have had major issues keeping their greenery. The difficulties of maintaining a city landscape when there are changes in soil, traveling pests that can destroy whole species of trees, the threats from pollution, and the constant demand for more space be freed up make it hard to ensure that Austins trees will continue to be so green and so present in years to come.

The truth is, we dont do enough to protect our greenery. Most of us dont think about it at all, unless we see a serious change happen right in front of us, and thats a recipe for future green space disaster.

Its easy in such a situation to throw your arms up and just assume theres nothing we can do about those factors, but Ive found with a little research that there actually is plenty. For instance, the local business Hamlin Tree Care offers soil assessments to make sure the soil is healthy for the trees living in it. After the assessment, its possible to then add the nutrients into the soil to make it healthier and safer for the trees. If everyone with trees in Austin provided those trees with such an assessment, and if the city in general put money towards this effort, wed be more certain of the future of our greenery.

Thats, of course, only one way to keep our trees healthy. We could all do more to reduce pollution and push our government to put more protections in place to avoid losing our trees.

While this might seem like just a cosmetic issue, the truth is that Austins freshness, in its look, its culture, and its air, is all partly due to the great greenery you see all around you. Its crucial we protect that greenery in every way we can.

So, take the time to look into getting your soil assessed. Add some nutrients to your soil. Look into alternative ways to travel or other pollution reducers, and push for more businesses to renovate old buildings instead of building over green spaces within the city and outside it.

These are small steps, but theres crucial to make sure Austin keeps looking green, feeling clean, and standing out as the most beautiful city in all of Texas.

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The top cause of accidents

Go ahead, try to guess. I want you to tell me what the number one cause of car accidents is. If you’re around the Houston area, you see your share of an accident, more than your share most likely, so what is the cause? What happened?

Here’s a chance to play detective, to be a car crash investigator, a Sherlock Holmes of the automotive collision.

So what is it?

I bet most of you guessed alcohol. I can’t fault you for it. That is definitely one of the top contenders, but if you went with drinking and driving, you’re wrong.

What else you got?

Teenager drivers? Nope, you’re a little cooler now. Ditto with elderly drivers. Though both are responsible for quite a few accidents here and elsewhere, they aren’t the biggest risk to your life and limb when you’re out on the road.

What about those reckless drivers, you might be saying, the ones running red lights, driving too fast, riding my bumper from my driveway all the way to work?

Again, a great guess, but you’ve missed the bullseye.

Okay, I’ll give you a break. The biggest, number one cause of car accidents is…

Distracted drivers.

That’s right. It’s you, every time you turn around to yell at the kids or pick up the phone while driving. It’s you when you mess with the music on your phone or try to text. Being distracted is just that dangerous. It leads to a great deal of pain, suffering, injury, money, and death.

You know all that, probably, about accidents, but just think for a moment not so much about the great horror of death and injuries, which we somehow dismiss from our minds when we’re driving, think instead about the money.

Money has been a great factor in keeping me from getting distracted, simply because most of my driving takes place going to or coming from work.

When I think about the potential costs that would accumulate after just a few seconds of distraction, and then I compare it to my salary…I put my phone down, keep my eyes on the road, and put my hands at ten and two.

Because we are talking about millions, people. Millions of dollars could be owed to that car you run into in the next lane. Even if everyone walks away, even if the car you hit wasn’t expensive or wasn’t totaled, you could still owe a lot of money, and you shouldn’t just assume your insurance will cover 100% of it.

There are lawyers who make whole, very lucrative careers out of ruining the financial lives of you and me because we were in a text argument with our spouses while we were driving. Taking cases against distracted drivers is good business if you’re a lawyer. You’ll keep that money rolling in.

So how did you do, Sherlock? Did you get to the answer before this post? And how often do you drive distracted? Remember, next time you grab for that phone, you may have to grab for your wallet instead.

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Only the Court can Modify its Original Decision on Child Support

When two parents decide to end their marriage, the living situations for both parents, as well as their children, can change dramatically and in just a small amount of time. The law firm Marshall & Taylor PLLC believes that in many cases, the parent who takes primary custody of the child may incur a number of significant costs that they may not be able to afford on their own. For this reason, many divorce settlements include child support arrangements to help the custodial parent with these costs.

Child support is one of the really challenging issues for divorcing parents. It is aimed at ensuring that the various needs of the child are met even after the spouses have separated.

Support to their child when parents decide to separate is both a legal and moral obligation. Thus, the non-custodial parent, also called the obligor, will be ordered by the court to pay a specified amount monthly or periodically (to the parent who has child custody, the child’s guardian or caregiver or to the state in the absence of all three).

In promoting and enforcing child care, the U.S.’ Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 paved the way for all states to list the factors that need to be considered when deciding child support issues, like how much financial support the non-custodial parent ought to pay monthly. Though these factors differ from state to state, the more basic ones include:

  • the parents’ present income (can be earned income, portfolio income or passive income). Income actually includes salaries, dividends, commissions, overtime pay and all other monetary form of earning.
  • custodial parent’s living expenses and the living standard of the child before the divorce.
  • the age and needs of the child and the capacity of the parents to make a contribution.

Child support is intended for the child’s basic needs: food, clothing, shelter and education. Though it is usually required by the court only until the child turns 18, the court can require additional contribution intended for the child’s other activities and interests, like medical or dental needs, vacation or camps.

Parental generosity, though, should not lead the supporting parent to just decide to increase the support or decrease it, in case of a change is his or her financial circumstances. Any decision that will directly affect the amount of support can be made only by the court which made the initial decision regarding the issue. Parents who bypass the court and decide on their own regarding child support can very well earn the court’s contempt.


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Rules and Limitations that can Shield SEPTA from Liability

On January 12, 2017, NBC News reported a fatal bus accident in Philadelphia Area: the victim was a 64-year-old woman; the vehicle involved was a SEPTA bus.

Another SEPTA bus crash occurred on March 2, 2017, leaving 12 people injured – this involved another SEPTA bus that was said to have collided with a Philadelphia Water Department truck.

SEPTA, short for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, is a regional public transportation authority that operates roughly 120 bus routes in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester and Bucks County (other forms of public transit services SEPTA provides include subway and elevated rail, commuter rail, light rail and electric trolleybus).

Anyone who has walked the streets of Philadelphia can be witness to how SEPTA bus drivers have driven at excessive rates of speed, ran yellow and red lights, and failed to observe the rules of the road. As a result, hundreds of SEPTA bus accidents have occurred and continue to occur each year involving other cars, bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians. SEPTA general counsel Gino Benedetti himself has said that during the 2014-15 fiscal year SEPTA was sued about 1,400 times, not just 408 times as court records show. Back in 1988, this same number of lawsuits, 405, was filed against SEPTA in the month of January alone.

However, that whether one is injured while a passenger on a SEPTA bus, as a result of a car accident with a SEPTA bus, or while a pedestrian after being struck by a SEPTA bus, there are certain rules and limitations that will apply due to SEPTA being a government agency. This means SEPTA is entitled to certain immunity under the law. Also, an individual injured as a result of SEPTA’s negligence must provide notice (using SEPTA claims form) within 6 months of the date of the SEPTA accident. Failure to provide timely notice may result to inability to pursue a claim for personal injuries. In addition, SEPTA can be held liable only for injuries that occur with respect to its negligent operation of its buses and vehicles. In other words, the courts have held that in order to sue SEPTA, your personal injuries must have been caused by SEPTA’s actual operation of its vehicles. Since “to operate” means “to put in motion,” preparing to operate a vehicle or acts taken once the vehicle has come to a complete stop, therefore, cannot be considered as operating a vehicle. In fact, courts have rejected many lawsuits filed by passengers injured on SEPTA buses that were not “operating” at the time. For example, Pennsylvania courts have granted SEPTA immunity on the basis that SEPTA was not “operating a vehicle” in the following circumstances:

  • SEPTA bus rear-ended while loading/unloading passengers;
  • SEPTA bus overcrowded which resulted in passenger missing his stop and falling at the next stop;
  • SEPTA driver did not “kneel” bus properly for passenger to exit; and,
  • Wheelchair ramp was uneven with the ground after being lowered, resulting in injuries to wheelchair-bound passenger attempting to exit via ramp.

In 2011, the new law called the Fair Share Act was also gave SEPTA the assurance that it would no longer be on the hook for large payouts unless it can be ruled that it is responsible for at least 60 percent of an accident.

If you are a SEPTA passenger, pedestrian or car driver injured as a result of a SEPTA bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering as well as any economic damages such as wage loss and medical expenses incurred. However, due to the many rules and limitations that can shield SEPTA from liability, it may be much more advantageous if you will be represented by a skilled and experienced SEPTA accident lawyer.



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Common Damages Associated with Wrongful Deaths

A wrongful death occurs when a person has undeservedly died because of another person’s error, negligence, or recklessness. Usually, this happens in the form of accidents, such as the following:

  • Car accidents caused by reckless drivers
  • Medical malpractice cases caused by unwarrantedly incompetent medical professionals
  • Product liability cases caused by negligent designers and manufacturers
  • Premises liability cases caused by negligent property owners
  • Workplace accidents caused by negligent employers and supervisors

According to the website of these Chicago accident attorneys, those who have lost loved ones because of wrongful death may have legal options, like trying to make the responsible party accountable for the damages.
Family members may be able to get compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical Expenses – Not all victims immediately succumbed to injuries and illnesses that have been sustained from other parties. Some survive for quite a while, resulting into huge hospital bills, medication costs, and rehabilitative costs, not to mention false hopes from family members that their loved ones will survive.
  • Funeral Expenses – Aside from the medical costs, another direct financial burden is the funeral costs for the victims. Funerals are both expensive and emotional, making them double whammies.
  • Lost Salaries – This may not be a direct financial burden like medical and funeral expenses, but they are equally as devastating. This is particularly problematic if the victims are the primary workers in their respective families, because the lost wages will surely translate to significant lifestyle changes.
  • Lost Benefits – Financial plans including healthcare benefits, social security benefits, and pension plans may also be put at risk if their users have passed away, and this is another indirect financial burden to the family members and may even compromise their future, especially the children.
  • Lost Companionship – The victims’ spouses and children have lost an important person in their lives. This may have emotional and psychological implications, especially on children that are still on their development years. Usually, courts don’t give monetary compensation for lost companionship, but it can be a valid argument to strengthen a wrongful death case.
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Slip and Fall Accidents

Property owners are legally required to ensure the safety of their premises. Any accident that has occurred on their properties because of their own negligence may be subject to a premises liability claim.

According to an article from the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, property owners may be liable for accidents if the following are proven:

  • The property owner was responsible for the unsafe condition
  • The property owner knew that the condition on the property existed but did not try to correct it
  • The property owner should have known about the danger, since a “reasonable” person would have found the problem and taken steps to correct it

One of the most common claims are regarding slip and fall accidents. These kinds of accidents occur because of many reasons. But whatever those reasons are, they don’t change the fact that the victims may sustain injuries, especially in the head, neck, back, arm, leg, and hip area.

Indoor Slip and Fall
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, may it be indoor or outdoor. It can happen at home, at the office, in inherently dangerous workplace environments such as construction sites, and malls. The most common causes of indoor slip and fall accidents include:

  • Defective staircases
  • Loose cables
  • Poorly maintained escalators and elevators
  • Slippery substances such as spilled drinks and floor wax
  • Unnecessary obstructions such as opened cabinets in offices
  • Worn carpets

Outdoor Slip and Fall
Many slip and fall accidents outside happen because of weather conditions and poor maintenance practices. Typically, outdoor slip and fall accidents occur on parking lots and sidewalks. The most common causes of outdoor slip and fall accidents include:

  • Buildup of snow and ice on roofs
  • Inadequate lighting or poor visibility
  • Melted snow and ice on sidewalks
  • Pile of leaves
  • Potholes and other uneven surfaces
  • Trash and debris
  • Water on pavement
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Business Litigation 101

In the conduct of running a business, it is normal for disputes and conflicts to arise. When the issues cannot be resolved through negotiations or arbitration, the usual result is business litigation. There are various circumstances when business litigation is the only way to resolve corporate disputes and conflicts. An Austin business litigation lawyer will tell you that resolving legal matters is crucial to the success of your company. The areas that business litigation may resolve include the following:

Finances and Investments

They say that money is the root of all evil and when financial matters find their way into businesses and companies, litigation is almost certain to follow. The case that will be filed may involve outsiders or even people inside the company.

Intellectual Property

A business may push a case against another business if they are deemed as infringing patents, trademarks, or copyrights which is illegal and may be grounds for pursuing a case.

Insurance Disputes

There are instances when insurance claims become one of the major causes of business litigation. In attempts to get higher proceeds, some businesses commit fraud and lie about some information. Insurance companies conduct investigations before granting claims and if they found out that you falsified information, then they have grounds to proceed with business litigation.

Breach of Contract

A contract is a binding agreement between two parties. For this reason, it is important for them to act in good faith and be true to the agreement. When one of the parties breaks the agreement, they are guilty of breach of contract and that violation may result to business litigation.

These are just some common instances that can result to business litigation. Getting involved in a lawsuit can be financially draining on the part of the parties involved. At the same time, it can also eat up so much time and the businesses involved may end up not being able to focus on running their business.

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Chapter 7 Business Bankruptcy

Companies fail daily, they fail so frequently that starting a business is one of the most risky financial decisions of any body’s life. Sometimes the risk pays off, but often times it does not and that’s understandable. If you are part of a failed company, the best thing you can do is take a breath and begin thinking of a way to salvage the situation. This may even include bankruptcy. Probably the most dreaded thing for any entrepreneur to even think about. However, with chapter 7 bankruptcy, a business owner can finally put aside that chapter of their life and begin anew.

Chapter 7 business bankruptcies works much like the conventional idea of bankruptcy, but it is much more compromising than most people may think. Upon approval of the bankruptcy petition and all other necessary financial documents, assets are divided into exempt and nonexempt assets. Nonexempt assets will be then be liquidated at auction and used to repay business debts. Exempt assets such as clothing, motor vehicles, and pensions are able to be kept to maintain a basic standard of living. Debts are then divided into secured and unsecured debts. Perhaps one of the most significant aspects with chapter 7 is the ability to discharge a majority of unsecured debts. These include any asset that is not secured with tangible property such as credit card debt and medical bills. If unsecured debts are unable to be discharged, many creditors will accept a reduced settlement amount for these debts which can be 50% lower than the original. According to Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, the majority of a company’s debts will in fact be eligible for discharge.

Businesses are difficult to own and operate, and it is inevitable that some companies are bound to fail. The thought of bankruptcy is hard for most entrepreneurs to stomach as they believe it is the mark of failure, but this is a unhealthy way of thinking. Bankruptcies need to be viewed as an opportunity for business owners to start over and create a better business from what you learned in the past.

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The Basics of a No-Zone Accident

Anyone can tell you than an eighteen wheeler truck is so much more massive than a regular vehicle. Putting it into a more calculated perspective, an eighteen wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds without a permit while a regular vehicle weighs only around 3,000 to 10,000 pounds. The contrast between the two vehicles is huge and so, when operating such a massive vehicle, there are certain precautionary measures that are needed.

Take, for instance, the amount of visibility that a truck driver has of their surroundings. There are certain areas of the truck that are difficult to see. While a truck driver must be professional trained in matters concerning turns or changing lanes, some drivers may fail to take these “no-zones” into account. If mishandled or negligently done, the narrow spaces in front, behind, or on the sides of a truck could cause significant damage if the truck driver turns suddenly, without the necessary precautions.

This kind of negligence is not something that should be allowed to let pass, henceforth why there are specific restrictions and laws that are exclusive to trucks, their drivers, and the employers who utilize their services. A driver, for example, can only drive a truck for fourteen hours a day. These precautions are necessary not only just to protect the driver but also the other vehicles on the road. There is precedent for this, of course, as the level of damage that truck could do far outweighs the damage that a regular vehicle can do; that’s just the basic math of it.

So if even the slightest bit of a slip up in the standard of care that a truck driver must follow by is neglected, a lot of people could be affected simply by being at the wrong “no-zone” at the wrong time.

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