Self-storage: The Safe Extra Space for Your Items

Self-storage, which is shorthand form for self-service storage, is one booming industry in the U.S. It is involved in the renting out of a storage space, like a room, a container, or an outdoor space or locker, to individuals or businesses on a short-term basis, usually for a month; longer-term leases are possible, though.

About 58,000 self-storage facilities were made available as the year 2009 ended. These facilities were available to all those who needed an extra space where they could keep the things that they have outgrown but cannot part with. It was also made available for existing business firms – serving a perfect safe shelter for temporarily unused office equipment or for whatever purpose the spaces were needed.

The need for self-storage space can be based on three things:

  • American consumerism. Every year, especially during the holidays, everyone is simply in a rush to filling their homes with new stuff. The purchase of something new, of course, means need for space. However, with no extra room in the house, the old stuff will have to give up their spaces. Replacement does not necessarily mean throwing out the old, though; things many people are not prepared to part with. This is why the need for self-storage.
  • American mobility. Extra spaces, where people can keep some of their household items safely, are in demand, especially during summer, the time when moving to a new house is at its peak. And, if the new residence cannot house all of one’s belongings, things of secondary importance are rather kept in a self-storage.
  • Older houses, built with smaller closets and rooms, and the disappearance of the American attic. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the average American house has gotten much bigger; from the average 1,660 square feet in 1973 to 2,400 square feet in 2004. Despite the increase in size, though, one important space was missing: the attic.

Many houses, especially in the temperate states, like California, Florida and Texas (the three states that also happen to have the most self-storage facilities), were designed as ranches or bungalows with neither a basement nor an attic where old stuff can be kept. But ranches or bungalows are not the only houses having space problems for even modern houses now lack an attic as builders have shifted to using trusses, which are cheaper, compared to rafter-based roof frames.

The self-storage industry says that in every ten U.S. households, one is renting a self-storage unit. Not all self-storage facilities are the same, however. Self storage Austin 78727, for instance, offer climate controlled storage units and drive-up units, to make sure your belongings are kept well and protected, no matter what the temperature is; these are also accessible anytime you need to have any of your belongings.

Is Chapter 7 or Liquidation Bankruptcy the Bankruptcy Chapter that’s Right for You?

A sudden major change in one’s financial situation due probably to loss of job or the need to pay child and/or spousal support can be financially crippling, especially if you are paying a mortgage, credit card bills and others bills on top of monthly utility charges. This is a very common scenario involving thousands of American wage earners, who end up being faced with overwhelming debts.

A debt crisis is a major stress and, unless you find an acceptable way of rising up from surmounting debts, this crisis will continually haunt you through phone calls at home at the most inconvenient hour of the day or at the office demanding to speak with you to ask you to pay your debts, emails and text messages, and letters from collection or law firms warning you of the possible lawsuit you can be faced with if you do not start paying immediately.

It usually takes about three successive months of non-payment before an account is tagged as bad debt and the debtor given negative credit. But with the debt crisis at hand, having negative credit would most probably be the least worry the debtor will have. The major concern is how to settle all debts and get back on good financial track again.

There are actually a variety of legal options that individuals and businesses have, which will help them get out of debt and regain control over their finances. One of these legal means is Bankruptcy, a legal declaration (either by an individual or by a business firm) of the inability to further pay debts that have worsened to an unmanageable amount. There are two major types of bankruptcy: liquidation and reorganization.

Chapter 7, one of the chapters in the bankruptcy law, which is a liquidation bankruptcy and the most commonly filed bankruptcy chapter, requires you (the debtor) to surrender all of your “non-exempt” properties for liquidation. If you run a business, this you will have to stop operations as its assets will have to be sold. A court-appointed trustee, who takes charge of the liquidation process, will pay all your creditors with the amount earned from the sold properties. Despite the probable small amount they may receive, the creditors have no option but to accept; they should also abide by the court’s decision to have your remaining balance forgiven and no longer be collected, lest they suffer severe penalties under federal law.

The debts that need to be paid in chapter 7 are only those that are categorized as non-dischargeable debts. Debts that can be discharged, like past utility bills, personal loan from family, friends, or employer, medical bills, and, most especially, credit card charges, are automatically discharged by the court with order to the creditor to cease any form of collection from you.

As explained in the website of the law firm Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a good option for an individual debtor as well as for a business entity. Individuals can benefit from Chapter 7’s discharge clause: in certain cases, a debtor can discharge his debts, remove the responsibility for these outstanding amounts, and emerge from the process with a clean slate. However, this chapter can be a complex legal procedure. Besides the need for you to evaluate properly, with the help of a competent bankruptcy lawyer, if this is the chapter that will best work for your particular case, or if there is even a need to file for bankruptcy altogether, you will also need to take a means test. This test will determine if you salary falls within the limit set under Chapter 7. The wisest move a debtor could make, in connection with filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy, is to do it only with the help of a lawyer highly-competent in the bankruptcy law.

No Fault and Fault Divorce

Not all states have uniform divorce practices and divorce laws. While there are states that recognize no-fault divorce, a practice wherein citing a reasonable ground for divorce is no longer necessary, so that so long as one spouse files a petition for divorce, a family court should grant such petition. Currently, 17 states adhere to this “no-fault” position; these states are California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

In the other 33 states, though these originally only recognized the fault system for divorce, these now also allow petitioners to file for divorce on no-fault grounds. Some of basic laws for filing divorce, like in Texas and other states, include:

a) No Fault. This is now available to couples whose marriage has become insupportable due to irreconcilable differences, discord or conflict of personalities. This means that the marriage is not working anymore and reconciliation can no longer be expected.
b) Fault. “Fault’ divorce necessitates a specific, acceptable ground upon which a divorce is being sought. Any of the following is an acceptable ground for divorce:

  • Cruelty by one spouse
  • Act of adultery
  • Conviction of felony of one spouse
  • Abandonment for at least one year
  • Living apart for at least three years without cohabitation
  • Confinement of one spouse in a mental hospital.

According to the law firm Kirker Davis, LLP, during the process of ending a marriage, both spouses typically undergo tremendous emotional strain. The legal process involved in either divorce or annulment is complex and includes a wide spectrum of issues, including distribution of property, child custody, spousal and child support. Divorce can have profound consequences with the potential for long-lasting effects on a person’s finances and property. This is one legal issue that is worth settling peacefully and amicably and outside the court – a kind of settlement that will work for both spouses and which can be accomplished through the help of a highly-competent divorce lawyer, whose interest is to help the spouses get through this most painful and emotional time in their lives.

Functional Employment Testing: A Perfectly Effective Way of Choosing the Right Applicant for the Right Job

Reduced instances of long-term disabilities (LTDs) and getting to find the right people for the right job: these are just two of the greatest benefits that firms can enjoy if they employ the services of a functional employment testing firm when it comes to hiring concerns.

Functional employment testing firms help companies find effective solutions to their major concerns, which include unproductivity or poor employee performance, employee absenteeism, fast employee turnover and job-related injuries, which translates to high Workers’ Compensation claims. Testing firms accomplish this task through the creation of an objective, scientific, legally compliant, and medically safe way of matching an applicant’s specific strengths and skills with the essential functions required of a certain job.

WorkSTEPS, for instance, a functional employment testing firm itself, used its functional employment testing tool in its founder’s family pipeline construction and fabrication business before the 1990s. In its very first year of testing, the family business saw a significant 60% reduction in job-related injuries and costs per claim, resulting to three quarters of a million dollars saved. After WorkSTEPS was formally incorporated in 1994, companies that sought its services also saw and felt significant changes during the first year alone. These changes included:

• Decreased turnover;
• Increased worker productivity;
• Safer work environment;
• Reductions in lost time;
• Diminished incidence of fraud and abuse;
• Reduced modifier rates and Workers’ Compensation premium; and,
• Reduction in Group Health costs

Functional employment testing firms do not just consider an applicant’s qualification based on his/her resume. They also conduct preemployment screening tests to ascertain that an applicant possesses the right skills, work behavior and fitness required by the job he/she is applying for. These tests will also show how an applicant will perform under pressure and certain circumstances even before he/she is actually given the final offer and starts work. Then there is also the pre-employment post-offer testing which will confirm whether the chosen candidate is capable of safely performing the essential functions of the job he/she is being offered.

Functional employment testing firms offer many other services, such as job analysis, functional job description, functional capacity evaluations (FCE), post-employment fit-for-duty testing, pre-offer agility testing, and upper quadrant / carpal tunnel testing.

One probable way to describe the aim of functional employment testing firms is to make sure that no job is offered to a wrong applicant and that no applicant is ever offered a wrong job.

Anyone Can be Wrongfully Charged with Drunk Driving

After a week of hard work or on the eve of a holiday, friends and work colleagues usually get together for a couple of drinks – a perfectly normal thing. Well, just make sure you do not get behind the wheel and drive afterwards or you may end up in deep trouble.

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is a major traffic offense in all U.S. states. Before anyone can be charged with a DWI or DUI, however, it needs to be proven first that the person accused of the violation has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08%, the legal limit for driving, or higher.

According to Truslow & Truslow, Attorneys at Law getting a 0.08% BAC level can definitely differ from one person to another due to a multitude of influential factors, such as rate of consumption, strength of drink, age, gender, body type, body fat or muscle content, metabolism, hydration, overall health, alcohol tolerance, and food taken (because an empty stomach can result to a higher BAC level), etc.

Medical professionals say that a person’s BAC clock starts about 15 minutes after he/she finishes his/her first drink and that if he/she takes only one standard drink every hour then his/her BAC level will more likely remain within safe limits. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a standard drink could be equivalent to:

  • a 12 oz. beer
  • a shot of 1.5 oz. of distilled spirit or 1 oz. of 100 proof liquor
  • a 4 – 5 oz. glass of (table) wine

Those who would be caught with a BAC level of 0.08% will be charged with a DUI misdemeanor; however, if a person being charged has a much higher BAC level, or already has previous DUI records or if someone was injured or killed in the accident, then the charge can be raised to DUI felony.

Law enforcement officials have never been more zealous in enforcing the anti-drunk driving law. Now, while this move has had some good results, as this has led to the apprehension of frequent violators, there have also been occasions when those caught have been charged wrongly since their BAC level was below the legal limit.

Wrongful accusations usually happen in states where DUI or DWI is considered a very serious offense. These mistakes can happen, due to a malfunctioning or improperly used breathalyzer or physical signs, such as speech impediment, red eyes and awkward movements being linked immediately to drunk-driving.

Besides the hefty fines, imprisonment and possible suspension of your driver’s license, the effects of a criminal charge, much more, a conviction, will hound you for many years after your time in court and jail. This is why, no matter the offense, a Columbia criminal defense attorney strongly emphasizes that criminal charges, at any level, should be taken seriously because if you get convicted of any criminal offense, then you can expect to encounter serious prejudices in your life.

Main Categories of Driving Distractions

During the first quarter of 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 6,800 fatal car crashes; this was 4.9% lower than the number during the same quarter in 2013 (7,150 fatalities). Despite the decrease, 6,800 is still pretty high for the simple reason that majority of car accidents, being due to driver error, are preventable, if only drivers will behave responsibly on the road and care more for their own safety and the safety of other motorists.

One law firm, the Bruner Law Firm, specifically, believes that most drivers know how to avoid a car accident. Unfortunately, however, so many of them do not consciously practice safe driving every time they get behind the wheel. With their smart phones and GPS devices within arms reach, their minds are easily distracted. As they try to do many things at once, the primary task of driving safely ends up being very poorly performed.

Distracted driving is another major cause of car accidents which result to thousands of fatalities and another tens of thousands of injuries. Unlike drunk-driving, overspeeding and reckless driving which a responsible driver will never commit, however, any driver, even the most careful ones can be guilty of distracted driving without even realizing it.

In the website of the law firm Williams Kherkher, it is said that driving distractions can be differentiated into three main categories:

  • Visual: When a driver takes his or her eyes off the road, they immediately increases their chances of getting into a crash. Visual distractions can include texting and other phone use or even looking at someone else in the car.
  • Manual: When a driver takes his or her hands off the wheel, the car is more prone to swerving or sudden adjustments that can result in a collision. Manual distractions can include applying makeup, eating, and drinking.
  • Cognitive: Whenever a driver takes his/her mind off of driving, the lack of focus slows down reaction times. Thus, daydreaming or experiencing strong emotions (such as crying or anger) can be dangerous while driving.

Texting while driving and talking with someone over the phone while behind the wheel are, presently, the worst kind of driving distraction. Other kinds include fixing a tie, combing or styling the hair, reading a map for directions, reaching for something, adjusting the radio or any electronic device, playing with a child or a pet while driving, lighting a cigarette and smoking, watching a movie from a laptop, and so forth. While anyone can be guilty of committing this dangerous driving lapse, young drivers, those aged between 18 and 25, are the ones identified to be the guiltiest, especially when it concerns texting or talking on a cell phone while driving.

Regardless of what caused distraction, the result, in the event of a crash, will always include property damage and/or harm to another individual (another motorist or a pedestrian). It is important that victims seek the help of a personal injury lawyer to make sure that all things necessary for a personal injury case to prosper are acquired, that the case is filed properly and all evidences are in order. All these are to enable the victims to merit the compensation they legally deserve.

Some of Most Common Truck Driver Errors which can Result to Catastrophic Accidents

Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, or drivers who operate buses and trucks, especially 18-wheelers (also known as big rigs or semi-trailers) are subject to the same road safety rules as drivers of smaller vehicles; in addition to observing traffic rules, however, they should also yield to smaller vehicles to avoid catastrophic accidents which often result to severe injuries or deaths.

Many accidents involving trucks are caused by truck drivers’ negligence: a failure on drivers’ part to exercise the level of care required in operating a vehicle as huge as the one they operate. These acts of negligence or error include:

  • Driving while fatigued. Many fatal truck accidents are due to a truck traveling at about 65 mph, failing to slow down and ramming into smaller vehicles. Though it may appear that the accident was caused by break failure, investigation often show that the driver was actually asleep while behind the wheel. This is often due to violation of the hours of service (HOS) regulation, which specify the length of a driver’s daily shift and the maximum number of driving hours during shift, the length of breaks and off-duty hours.
  • Traffic violations. Some of these violations, which are serious driving errors, include failure to signal when changing lanes, not stopping at red lights, beating a red light, driving erratically, driving above the speed limit, driving too fast despite poor road conditions.
  • Loading a truck improperly. This can result to cargo falling off a truck or, a truck overturning or jackknifing due to insecure or unevenly distributed cargo.
  • Rear-end collisions. A truck driver rear-ending another vehicle can be due to many different reasons, including failing to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, driving too fast for road conditions, falling asleep behind the wheel, and getting distracted while driving.

There are different contributory factors too why errors are committed even by veteran tractors. Two of these are driving while impaired (either by alcohol or illegal drug) and driving faster – in order to cover more miles and make delivery deadlines.

Due to the commanding presence of 18-wheelers on the road, the Abel Law Firm says that drivers of smaller vehicles should take extra care around these large vehicles; however, truck drivers should also control their vehicles and exercise caution at all times to help avoid causing an accident. The necessity of exercising caution, according to a Fort Walton Beach injury attorney, is due to the thousands of devastating accidents that continue to happen despite the experience and competence of truck drivers.

One may not be able to handle the legal complexity of a civil suit without help from a seasoned personal injury lawyer. This is especially true if the liable party involves a big and wealthy trucking firm.