Fracking Employment Hazards

9:45 am

The process of hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is an increasingly popular method of extracting natural gas and oil from far below the Earth’s surface. The increased availability of efficient machinery and technology coupled with the high demand for oil and gas has led to a huge need for people to work in the oil fields and gas fracking sites. Before you sign on, be aware of the risks.

What are the Risks of working in the fracking industry?

On August 16, 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency issued regulations for the natural gas and oil industry under the Clean Air Act due to the many pollutants released into the air during the fracking process. Workers in the industry are routinely exposed to silica as it is a main component of fracking sand used during the gas extraction process. Sand is hauled in by the truck-load and this creates dust that is then inhaled by workers if proper protection is not utilized. The Inhalation of Silica can lead to silicosis, a lung disease, and to lung cancer. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) along with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) released a Hazard Alert specifically about the risk of silica inhalation.

Workers often put in 12 to 16 hour days, seven days a week. This leads to fatigue which increases the chances for accidents to happen. Other hazards include transportation related accidents due to the large equipment hauling supplies back and forth, fires and explosions, and reactions to the various chemicals used.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, occupations in the oil and gas extraction industry have a fatality rate that is over seven times higher than the average rate for workers within the United States.



Birth Defects from Medication

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There is very little conclusive information about the effects of medications on unborn babies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91% of all medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use of adults do not have sufficient data about the risks they may impose if used during pregnancy. You should always consult with your doctor before stopping or starting any medications while pregnant.

Although the relation between using medications while pregnant and birth defects is in need of additional research, there are some known concerns about certain medications. Perhaps the most commonly associated medication with the cause of birth defects is thalidomide which was sold from 1957-1962 and was used by pregnant women to combat morning sickness. The medication was quickly found to have caused limb deformities in babies.  While thalidomide is still used today for very specific medication conditions, it is not to be used by pregnant women.

One of the challenges of obtaining information on the effects of medications on unborn babies is that the FDA can’t test drugs on pregnant women. The main way the FDA obtains information on this matter is through pregnancy registries in which pregnant women who are taking medications sign up through the medication manufacturer. Each company will vary on the exact methods used to obtain information but in general, interviews are conducted with the pregnant women at various intervals throughout pregnancy and again after their babies are born.  For more information on the pregnancy exposure registries that are currently available click here.


Insurance Fraud Doesn’t Pay

8:57 am

The term ‘insurance fraud’ refers to any actions taken in attempt to fraudulently obtain a payment or other benefit from an insurance policy. Consider the many types of insurance: homeowner, renter, automobile, health, life, or workers’ compensation. With each of these comes the potential for insurance fraud at the hands of unscrupulous individuals. According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, fraudulent insurance claims in the United States are nearly $80 billion each year.

Many people assume that when they commit insurance fraud they are committing a victimless crime stealing only from the insurance companies. They justify their actions by claiming that the insurance companies can afford it and they aren’t hurting anybody. This is far from the truth. Because of such high losses suffered each year by insurance companies, they must raise their premiums and these costs are absorbed by the consumer.

Insurance fraud affects everyone. It raises insurance companies’ operating costs so they are unable to create new positions which in turn limits job growth in this large industry. It also makes it more difficult for the majority of the honest, hard-working people to collect much needed compensation when they are injured in an accident or suffer property damages by unforeseen causes. Because of the high cost of fraudulent insurance claims insurance companies often employ rigorous, costly, investigations as standard operating procedure when a claim is made. Not only does this extend the processing time for those depending on their insurance claims to fix their vehicles, homes, or pay hospital bills, it also further increases the costs of insurance which is again placed on the consumer.


Texting While Driving: An Incredible Risk

2:15 pm

The problem of texting while driving has been an increasing concern over the past few years. Using a cell phone to communicate via text message has become commonplace. The temptation to ‘just send out one quick text’ while driving is huge, and so are the potential consequences of doing so. Distracted driving affects all of us who travel on the road ways but there are certain factors that appear to make you more likely to engage in texting while driving. The most influential factor appears to be age. According to, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, among fatal crashes with drivers under the age of 20, 11% were the direct result of distracted driving. This is the highest percentage of any reported age group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies the three types of driving distractions as visual, manual, and cognitive. Texting combines all three types into one dangerous transaction. It is estimated that sending out or reading one text message requires you to look away from the road for 4.6 seconds (visual distraction). Texting requires you to remove your hand(s), often times both hands, which then requires you to steer with your knees, to send the message (manual distraction). Texting and reading text messages also requires some thought which takes away from your attention to the road and the task of driving (cognitive distraction).  Another element that makes texting while driving especially dangerous is that it’s easy to get into a texting ‘conversation’ which requires you to engage in reading incoming text messages and responding to them repeatedly which obviously increases the risks of an already risky behavior.

Although it’s a good idea to completely refrain from texting while driving, you should be aware of the distracted driving laws in your state.  Currently 39 states and the District of Columbia have a ban on text messaging while driving and new laws are frequently added to the books.

Roberts & Roberts Law Firm is a wrongful death law firm located in Tyler, Texas.  For more information, please visit us at



Dangerous Drug-Avandia

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Avandia (brand name for rosiglitazone) is an oral pharmaceutical drug that is manufactured and marketed by GlaxoSmithKline. It is used to treat Type-2 Diabetes as it helps to control blood sugar levels.  According to WebMD, Avandia should only be used by and prescribed for people who have attempted to control their blood sugar levels with other types of anti-diabetic medications without success.

Avandia consists solely of rosiglitazone which is linked to an increased risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and congestive heart failure. Other medications that include rosiglitazone include the brand names Avandamet and Avandaryl.  According to Dr. David Graham, an FDA scientist, over 100,000 strokes and heart attacks may have occurred due to the use of Avandia.

On September 23, 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Avandia was added to the list of medications that require physicians to provide and review a medication guide with patients upon prescribing. This was part of the FDAs initial Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). On May 23rd, 2011, their strategy was updated to include further restrictions. It states that Avandia and other medications containing rosiglitazone will no longer be available from retail pharmacies. In order to prescribe and obtain the medication, patients and their healthcare providers will need to be enrolled in a special program.

As part of the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history,   GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay over $657 million for misrepresentations in their marketing of Avandia. They also agreed to pay a criminal fine of over $242 million for failing to include certain safety information about the drug in reports to the FDA.

The Cagle Law Firm is a personal injury law firm located in St. Louis, Missouri.  For more information, please visit us at

Can you Discharge Business Debts in Bankruptcy?

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This is a common question – and the answer is yes.  You can discharge business loans in bankruptcy.  In fact, in some ways business debts are easier to discharge than personal debts.  The first issue to consider when you have problems with business debts is: must I keep the business running?  If the answer is no, then bankruptcy offers a simple exit strategy.  If you must keep the business in operation, then your only bankruptcy option is Chapter 11, which can be very helpful, but is fairly expensive and time-consuming.  The second issue is: Who is liable for the debt?  If the business is an state registered corporate entity (LLC or Corporation), then you must determine if you are co-signed for the business’ debts.  If you are, then a personal bankruptcy will remove your personal liability on those loans.  This would leave your creditors nothing to pursue for their debts other than the assets of the business itself, which are usually expended by the time you file your bankruptcy.  If your business is the only entity liable, then you are not personally liable for the debt (except in unusual circumstances like fraud) and can either let the creditors fight over the corporate corpse or file a business Chapter 7 to wrap it all up in an orderly fashion.

What about SBA loans?  They are dischargeable as well.  Unlike federal student loans, loans guaranteed or issued by the US Small Business Administration are not excepted from discharge.  They purpose of the program is to encourage entrepreneurial activity by providing credit where private lenders may be reluctant or too demanding of collateral.  As long as you did not pledge something like your home as collateral for an SBA loan, then you can safely discharge it like any other unsecured debt.

As in all matters of law your first course of action is to discuss your case with a local bankruptcy attorney.

Preparing for Possible Divorce: What Is The First Thing You Should Do?

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If either you or your spouse may be thinking about a divorce, the first thing you should do is consult with an attorney who handles divorce matters in your area.  Too often I meet with people who have talked to friends or family and been given totally wrong information about one or more issues they will face in the event of a divorce.  These sources are great to get personal advice from in many instances but a possible divorce legal question is not one of them.  Friends and family are very important for both emotional and possibly financial support but avoid relying on them for divorce advice.

One of the things I enjoy most about my practice is meeting new people and finding out about how I can help them deal with their particular circumstances.  Every person’s situation is unique.  A divorce lawyer can advise you regarding your specific circumstances and tell you what you should be doing as well as things you should not be doing to put yourself in the best possible position to either get the best settlement or prepare yourself for a potential trial.  This is even more important for people who may not be familiar with the particular facts surrounding their finances or how much income they have.

There might be things like specific expenses for children or other reasons to cause you to want to go ahead and file, wait to file or not file at all.  If you think you might have to deal with a divorce, go see a lawyer and find out what issues are going to be important in your situation as soon as you can.  Without a doubt dealing with a potential divorce is stressful enough.  Don’t compound your anxiety by not getting real answers to your questions from a lawyer who knows how to answer them.

Tractor-Trailer Accidents

9:22 am

When a 20 ton vehicle and a 1,500 lbs. car tangle, the passengers in the car are in grave danger. It doesn’t even matter who caused the accident, the people in a passenger car are always going to come out worse than the person in the tractor-trailer. Even the vehicles themselves can’t compare; a small car could be completely totaled while the only damage to the truck was a mere scuff. As long as these massive vehicles are on the road and human error exists, collisions are bound to happen. The bad news for motorists is, truckers aren’t going anywhere; our country is completely dependent on the trucking industry and tractor-trailers are the only reasonable way to transport goods across the country.

The Numbers on Tractor-Trailer Accidents

  • According to, the following information is true about trucking accidents.
  • 500,000 trucking accident occur annually
  • Up to 5,000 deaths are due to tractor-trailer accidents

A driver or passenger in a vehicle collision with a tractor trailer has only a 2% survival rate

Avoid Becoming a Victim of These Incidents

If you know what you are up against and how to react, you stand a better chance of avoiding collisions with a tractor-trailer. You must first know that there are many blind spots for the trucker – don’t hang out beside a truck for too long, avoid driving near the rear parts of the sides, and don’t attempt to outturn a truck making a turn, especially on the right. Drivers also need to be aware that the braking distance on a truck is far more than a car, if you cut them off, don’t expect them to stop on a dime. Use vigilance and common sense and remember that the driver may be extremely fatigued or distracted and don’t try to take on the machinery they are trying to handle.

Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C. is a truck, tractor,and trailer accident law firm located in New York/Vermont.  For more information, please visit us at

Five Things to Consider Before You Refinance Your Mortgage

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Mortgage refinancing is a big business. It can either pay off or backfire. Before you jump into this complicated process, consider the following five important facts before you refinance your home you should consider before you find yourself needing a foreclosure lawyer.

  1. Refinancing offers clear benefits when interest rates remain historically low. Since the size of your monthly mortgage payment is a function of your mortgage’s effective interest rate, it stands to reason that you’ll save money by reducing this value. If you took out a fixed-rate mortgage to purchase your home more than five years ago, your rate is probably higher than today’s standard refinancing rates. The refinancing process might save you thousands of dollars over the long haul.
  2. Refinancing your mortgage may also make your loan more flexible. Your current mortgage agreement may hamstring you with unreasonable terms like prepayment penalties that charge you extra for advance lump-sum payments. The refinancing process may do away with many of these restrictions.
  3. The refinancing process comes with its share of drawbacks as well. For instance, refinancing usually involves a combination of fees and penalties levied by your original mortgage provider. You can expect to pay a sum equivalent to three months of payments on your original loan for the privilege of refinancing your mortgage to a lower rate.
  4. Your original mortgage may come with a prepayment penalty or “interest-rate differential” designed to prevent you from paying off or refinancing your mortgage before a set date. While the refinancing process doesn’t technically pay off your mortgage, it does fully compensate your original lender. As such, your provider loses out on the thousands of dollars in future interest payments that your account would have generated. To avoid paying through the nose for an early refinancing, try to wait until your prepayment penalty period has elapsed.

You should approach the possibility of refinancing your mortgage as you would any weighty financial decision. Resist any quick-decision pressure from your refinancing institution as you consider the pros and cons of renewing the terms of your financing. While you should never neglect the advice of financial experts, you should also take to heart what you’ve learned about the refinancing process and show some confidence in your gut instincts.

Jennifer Avery is a freelance writer who writes about finance issues.

What to do if you’ve been hit by a reckless driver

10:47 am

Auto accidents can be frightening, and sadly, many accidents occur because of motorists’ reckless actions behind the wheel. Unfortunately, when motorists behave dangerously, they often injure others in the process, and these victims are left with the physical and financial consequences of an accident they did nothing to cause. However, if a person is hit by a reckless driver, he or she can take steps to pursue financial compensation from the driver responsible for their injuries and related costs.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you might not know what you need to do to protect your interests and make a strong case for compensation. By taking action and making sure to do the following, you can greatly increase your chances of securing the compensation you need from the person responsible for your accident:

• Document the accident with pictures and/or video. If you didn’t do this at the accident site, take pictures of your vehicle and any damage to it as soon as you can.

• Keep detailed records of all medical attention you receive, including copies of hospital bills.

• Make copies of any other bills that are associated with your accident, like vehicle repair or replacement costs.

• Discuss your situation with an attorney to make sure your legal rights and interests are protected.

By taking these steps, someone who is injured by another driver in an auto accident may increase his or her chances of getting the compensation that they need to cover their accident-related losses. Careful documentation is the best way to demonstrate the exact losses you have suffered, so make sure you save anything and everything that you feel could be relevant to your accident.

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