The History of Firefighting

Firefighting is a profession we often let blend into the background of our society despite its necessity. People have been putting out fires since fire was discovered, but what caused fire to shift from a personal burden to one of the community? As comical as it is to say considering he did just about everything, it was Benjamin Franklin that pushed for organized firefighting.

On a trip to Boston, Franklin observed they were much more competent when it came to putting out fires than the citizens back home in Philadelphia. When he returned home from his trip, he contacted Junto, a group that focused on civic improvement, for advice on how to better fight fires in their city.

He also used his paper, the Pennsylvania Gazette, to raise awareness about the need for a community effort to improve firefighting techniques.

He pushed for chimney sweeps to be licensed by the city and held responsible if something goes wrong on their watch. He then brought together thirty men, who formed the Union Fire Company. They brought leather buckets along with strong bags to each fire. Citizens were also required to have leather buckets in their houses. This union met every month to discuss ways to improve their firefighting.

In addition to the Union, some men in Philadelphia chose to start their own fire fighting company.

Thanks to Ben Franklin’s efforts, Philadelphia became the safest city in the United States in regards to fire damage.

The website of Chris Mayo says that fire-related injuries can cause significant damage quickly. Without an organized union committed to putting out fires, we would be on our own in situations regular citizens are not trained to or have the equipment to handle. Due to the persistent dangers of fires, firefighters continue to be as important as they were when Benjamin Franklin founded them in Philadelphia.

Enforcing Prenuptial Agreements in Arizona

Prenuptial, or premarital agreements, are defined under Arizona State Legislature as the “agreement between prospective spouses that is made in contemplation of marriage and that is effective on marriage.” In most instances, the agreement is with regard to property, but anything can be included in the agreement provided it does not violate any other law or any one’s civil rights.

Most people have a negative reaction to prenuptial agreements, mainly because it indicates a lack of trust. However, as a Houston divorce lawyer can explain to you, prenuptial agreements have a few benefits for both parties. For one thing, it sets out in black and white the disposition of assets that may provide a measure of relief for concerned parties such as family members and children. For another thing, it obviates the need for litigation in case of a divorce, and considerably simplifies the divorce process in many ways. A prenuptial agreement may also provide a measure of protection of assets from creditors.

Arizona law on premarital agreements generally follows the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1983 with slight modifications. The short, sweet version of the Act states that any premarital agreement is considered valid and enforceable if it is written down and signed by both parties unless one of the spouses was under duress or there was a deliberate non-disclosure of assets/liabilities at the time of signing.

The court typically maintains the validity of the prenuptial agreement and therefore affirming its enforceability unless it is proven that the terms of the agreement is unconscionable or a criminal violation. It is therefore important to consult with a lawyer to handle any issues regarding the enforcement of prenuptial agreements in Arizona. The rules are there but open to interpretation, and it is fatally easy to be railroaded into a situation without proper legal representation. In fact, to avoid issues of enforceability, it is advisable to seek the counsel of a competent divorce lawyer when drafting a prenuptial agreement.

The Dangerous Results of Exposure to Silica

Every year hundreds of workers are diagnosed with severe health conditions due to their regular exposure to, or contact with, hazardous chemicals and other dangerous substances in the workplace. Most of these illnesses, however, are chronic, developing overtime and getting manifested only when these have already reached a stage wherein treatment is no longer possible. Cancer and lung disorder are the usual types of these disorders.

The organ most affected and easily damaged by toxic substances is the lungs and, depending on the kind of substance they are exposed to, the damage can be any of the following:

  • Bronchiolitis obliterans (BO), also called obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) or constrictive bronchiolitis (CB), a rare, deadly and incurable lung disease that results from the scarring or inflammation of the small airway branches called bronchioles (passageways where air passes through the mouth or nose to the alveoli, or air sacs, of the lungs). This lung disease can be caused by exposure to toxic fumes, such as ammonia, thionyl chloride, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, nitrogen dioxide and diacetyl
  • Byssinosis, which is a result of regular inhalation of textile fiber dust
  • Chronic beryllium disease (CBD), which is caused by the inhalation of the fumes or dust of the metallic element Beryllium. This lung disease is acquired only by individuals who are allergic to the metal beryllium
  • Pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, is caused by the regular inhalation of coal dust
  • Silicosis, which is caused by inhalation of dust-containing silica

Many workers are not fully aware of the deadly effects of many different kinds of minerals, especially silica. Breathing in silica dust (regularly) is common among workers whose job involves crushing or breaking of rocks and sands. Thus, many of them end up with the lethal lung disease called silicosis, which is inflammation and scarring of the lungs.

There are three known types of silicosis an individual may suffer from:

  • Chronic, which is the most common form of silicosis; the symptoms of which remain undetected for years. As it progresses, it becomes worse, and can even lead to the development of a heart disease.
  • Accelerated, it develops fasters compared to chronic silicosis and is acquired due to exposure to larger amounts of silica powder or dust in a short period of time.
  • Acute type silicosis that develops and worsens the fastest. Its symptoms include loss of weight, shortness of breath, fever, and coughing. Due to fast respiratory failure, death can result one or two years after symptoms manifest.

The effects of silicosis cannot be reversed. Thus, it is absolutely necessary that workers wear protective gears and that employers make sure that they do so. Failure of employers or supervisors to ensure worker protection can make them liable for whatever illness a worker may develop. Workers, on their part, should be aware of their health condition and make sure to contact competent Houston personal injury lawyers once symptoms of any illness appear.

Driver Fatigue a Likely Cause of Truck Accidents

If you have ever been behind the wheel of a car you have been driving for several hours, you may have experienced the sense of lethargy that steals over you without you realizing it until you jerk awake, hopefully not in the hospital. There have been stories of drivers who work the night shift that find themselves in bed when their last conscious action was turning on the ignition to drive home from work.

These are examples of microsleep episodes, short “naps” that the brain takes when an individual has not had enough sleep or is extremely tired. Microsleep typically last for a few seconds but it is possible to experience several episodes in a short period and the person is not even aware that such naps had occurred. The driver’s eyes are open but nobody’s home.

It is a condition that is likely to occur with long-haul truck drivers who are on the road for hours at a stretch and for days on end. While driver fatigue is to be expected because of the type of driving these truckers have to do, it can be significantly aggravated when truckers ignore the federally mandated hours-of-service (HOS) which are implemented precisely to prevent such occurrences. Even the most seasoned truck driver may find how fatally easy it is to fall asleep at the wheel of an 80,000-pound rapidly moving piece of steel and cause horrendous mayhem on life and property.

Truck drivers owe a duty of care to other drivers above and beyond that of a regular driver because of the size and weight of the vehicles they operate. As pointed out in an article on the website of the Sampson Law Firm, the potential for danger with an 18-wheeler is why the government has put regulations in place that are designed to neutralize some of that danger, including HOS. When truck drivers or companies choose to violate these safety regulations, they are guilty of negligence.

If you have been seriously injured from a negligent truck accident, you may have a valid claim against the truck driver and/or company for compensation. Ask a personal injury lawyer in your area for more information.

The Risks in Using Power Morcellators

On April 30, 2014, Ethicon,the unit of Johnson & Johnson responsible in the manufacture, sales and promotion of the pharmaceutical giant’s power morcellators, ceased distribution and sales, and ordered the withdrawal of the said devices from the market.

Ethicon’s move came barely three weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert (on April 17, 2014) that discouraged doctors and hospitals from the continued use of power morcellators in laparoscopic surgical procedures, specifically in the removal of uterine fibroids or myomas through myomectomy and in the removal of the womb or uterus through hysterectomy.

FDA’s decision is based on medical reports regarding the possible spread of unsuspected cancer tissues, called uterine sarcomas, during morcellation treatment of women with uterine fibroids. Due to the lack of a device that can accurately detect the presence of uterine sarcomas, risk of spreading it beyond the uterus can happen as uterine fibroids are divided (or morcellated) into pieces.

Power morcellators are medical devices designed to cut an overgrown uterus or fibroids into pieces tiny enough to allow them to be extracted through 0.5-1cm incisions. These devices have been approved by the FDA to be used in laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgeries. Since the early 1990s, many doctors began preferring power morcellator-aided laparoscopic surgeries over open surgeries (such as abdominal hysterectomy, which required incisions between five to seven inches long) due to the former’s many advantages, including tiny incisions that healed faster, shorter hospital stay, lesser blood loss, reduced pain and minimal chances of infection or complications.

Johnson & Johnson introduced three of the best engineered power morcellators in the market in 1998 which, many believe, actually set the standard on the way the device should be designed. These are Gynecare Morcellex, the Morcellex Sigma and the Gynecare X-Tract. Despite the accuracy and efficiency of J&J’s power morcellators, in particular, and the overall benefits provided by all power morcellators, in general, the FDA still find the risk of cancer not worth continuing the use of the devices.

Up to 50,000 morcellation treatments are performed in the US every year, with most of these for the purpose of removing uterine fibroids. Women who have been harmed by a morcellation treatment have to option to file a morcellator lawsuit to seek compensation for the injuries they’ve sustained. Though FDA’s safety alert does not totally stop doctors from using power morcellators, the FDA reminds them of their major duty in informing patients of the risks associated with the procedure.

Pursuing Social Security Disability Benefits

Not everyone are comfortable with applying for a Social Security Disability benefit, even when they are qualified or are in dire need of financial support. A certain number of reasons can come up that would require a person to apply for a Social Security Disability Insurance, among them is a truck accident. Truck accidents typically cause serious injuries and property damage, all accumulating to be a big financial burden to the victim. Applying for a SSDI benefit would help ease the financial situation of the victim while recuperating.

Many people find it difficult to file for SSDI benefits, or they might think it a hassle or a complicated process for them to do. There are a lot of things that people often misunderstand about SSDI, which is why the number of applicants for the benefits is low. This is despite the fact that many insurance companies force their clients to file for SSDI benefits after they are involved in a serious truck accident. Because not everyone is qualified for an SSDI benefit, it would be better to consult a lawyer who knows how SSDI and truck accident claims work, such as those from the Chris Mayo Law Firm in San Antonio. Many truck accident victims find it harassing for their insurance company or adjuster that are forcing them to apply for SSDI, regardless of whether it is applicable or not.

For those who are worried about whether their injuries qualify them for SSDI benefits or not, know that many SSDI laws take into consideration the daily activities, type of work, age, and education. These factors play a role in determining whether the injury and its effects will last a lifetime. Those who have been denied should know that they have the option to appeal their application (a better choice than to re-apply). Victims can also go back to work while receiving SSDI benefits, provided they contact their ensure their eligibility for the benefits and their smooth transition back to the workplace.

After surviving a serious truck accident, it may be possible to file an injury lawsuit as well. A lawyer would also prove instrumental in a person’s success, should this be the course of action they decide is best. He or she would be able to use those long years of training to determine what kinds of compensation you may be eligible for and from whom. In many cases, settlements are reached out of the courtroom, saving everyone involved valuable time and money.

Multiple-vehicle Motorcycle Accident: Right to Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits

An increase in the number of fatalities from 2011, at 4, 612 to 5,027 in 2012, due to motorcycle accidents, is enough to worry authorities from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Considering the total number of reported motorcycle accidents per year, which go over a hundred thousand, it may even be considered a relief that the 2012 statistics is quite small.

Some motorcycle accident reports show riders crashing into fixed objects, such as a lamp post or a tree; a usual incidence among drunk or speeding riders. The more dangerous collisions, however, involve multiple vehicle accidents, that is, between a motorcycle and another motor vehicle, such as a car, a van or, worse, a commercial motor vehicle (a bus or a truck).

In the event of multiple vehicle accidents, it is always the motorcycle rider who suffers the greatest damage to vehicle and the worst injuries due to the little body protection they have, which is actually limited to the helmet. And oftentimes, despite the helmet, the force of the collision is strong enough to cause severe harm, like head and/or spinal injury and broken bones, besides the trauma that may last a lifetime.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) motorcycle accidents are mostly caused by other driver’s failure to recognize riders’ right of way. Many drivers, without first checking for possible approaching motorcycle riders, make sudden turns (usually at intersections) or abrupt lane changes.

Injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents are often severe, subjecting the victim to additional financial worries brought about by costly medical treatment and loss of income due to failure to report for work. Accidents due to the negligence or carelessness of other motorists, which cause injury to a motorcyclist, make these liable individuals legally responsible in compensating the victim based on whatever present and future damages (the victim) may be subjected to.

In the event of permanent disability to the victim, the liable party’s responsibility in compensating the victim, as well as the amount of compensation, is increased. It is necessary that the victim is represented by a highly-qualified and determined lawyer who will help fight for the victim’s rights, even if the liable party offers an out-of-court settlement.

If the victim’s injury is expected to last for, at least, a year, will render him/her incapable to continue to perform the work he/she did before the disability, and if he/she is employed (or was recently employed) and has earned the required number of credits in Social Security, then he/she may also apply for the Social Security Disability Insurance to avail of the agency’s disability benefits. The Social Security credits can be earned through payment of Social Security taxes – an amount automatically deducted from employees’ pay checks.

The Importance of Reliable Insurance

Insurance works as a cost-sharing means made to limit the financial risks from anything unexpected that could result to a significant loss.  Disasters, accidents, and other issues can happen to anyone at any time, therefore having prepared for it (at least financially) can ease you and your family’s mind and make you more ready to start over again. Insurance covers a number of things, from health, to auto insurance, business insurance, and residential properties insurance. It helps to know which type of insurance coverage you need and what will work for you.

For homeowners, having residential property insurance is more than security; it is the greatest investment that they could get. It covers for any renovation that the house needs to have, provided it is within the scope of the policy coverage you have agreed on. It also protects you or anyone in an event of an accident that occurred within your property, such as a slip and fall accidents or animal attacks. Any injury that happened within your premises can be covered by residential property insurance. Belongings and high-end items are also covered by homeowners insurance, but it would be a better option to have property insurance with liability insurance. This ensures that any risks will be covered by the insurance. When disaster does strike, it is important to file for a homeowner or residential property claim in order to acquire financial help from your insurance company. Getting the help of a lawyer for consultation or representation would make the claim faster to process.

Insurance can be used for a home that was damaged due to a fire or natural calamity, an auto accident due to another driver’s recklessness, or an injury that resulted in death. As long as you have signed up and paid for an insurance coverage, you and your family will be protected from losses that could happen.

Understanding Chemical Burns

Most people brush off minor burn injuries, thinking they are inconsequential wounds that will heal with time. Although there are injuries that don’t need hospitalization or follow-up, there are burns injuries that could be potentially dangerous to health and could lead to severe pain and suffering. Among the many types of burn injuries, chemical burns may be among the most dangerous ones.

Chemical burns are usually the result of close contact or long exposure to acids and alkali, whether they are from household items or industrial products that can be in gas, liquid, or solid forms.  There are natural foods can also be a cause of skin irritation which can cause a burning sensation, although not as serious as chemical burns. Aside from the skin, chemical burns can also affect other parts of the body, namely blood vessels, muscles, lungs, nerves and eyes. The severity of the injury could depend in on how many layers of skin and tissues affected by the burn, but many chemical burns often show signs of injuries many hours after the exposure.

Chemical burns are often a common occupational hazard. Often, workers who are in the chemical fabrication, mining, construction, and medicine are exposed to harsh chemicals that could result to chemical burns. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) already has certain rules and safety regulations for workers who are exposed to chemicals to secure their wellbeing, although accidents do occur. When they do, workers who are hurt can avail of worker’s compensation, or they can file for personal injury claims. Lawyers such as those from the Sampson Law Firm help to represent workers who have suffered from serious chemical burns while on the job, and the injuries required long-term rehabilitation and health complications.

Workers’ compensation or personal injury claims are aimed to compensate for the expenses lost on treatment, rehabilitation, lost wages and pain and suffering. If another person is the cause of the chemical burn injury, then that person can be held liable for their actions through a personal injury claim. Proper safety measures, cautionary warnings on toxic products, as well as protective clothing can aid in lowering the risks of accidents involving chemical burns.

Dangers of Acetominophen

Tylenol is an over-the-counter medication easily available to the public used generally for reducing pain and fever, as well as alleviating the symptoms of flu, cough, colds, and allergies. Its active ingredient is acetaminophen, known worldwide as paracetamol, which is an antipyretic and analgesic. It was first marketed for children but was then widely used as a pain-killer, dominating the American pain-reliever market.

The easy accessibility of Tylenol on the market has given way to a number of patients suffering from overdoes with others even resulting to serious health complications and deaths. Tylenol is said to be responsible to as many as 78,000 emergency room visits, with 26,000 people being hospitalized and 450 deaths due to overdosing and health complications. One of the most common and alarming complications from overdosing from Tylenol is liver disease or liver damage.

Due to the increasing number of lawsuits being filed, the manufacturers of Tylenol (McNeil consumer Healthcare, under Johnson & Johnson) says that there will soon be a red warning alert on the bottles of Tylenol to inform the patients regarding the dangers of overdosing on the active ingredient acetaminophen. Overdosing on acetaminophen is the leading factor for liver failure.

According to the National Injury Law Center, even taking the right dosage can still put a patient in danger of the side effects of acetaminophen, especially if they are mixing it with other medications that also contain acetaminophen. Known as “double dipping”, these are often the cause for many accidental overdosing. Taking Tylenol as recommended is deemed as safe (with minimal side effects), but it can damage the liver if it is taken on higher dosages.

The problem that FDA and regulators face and are tackling is that people are not generally aware of the dangers of acetaminophen: aside from Tylenol, there are other medications that contain acetaminophen (there are more than 600 out in the market, including Vicodin and Percocet). Presently, FDA has required over-the-counter medicines that contain acetaminophen as an active ingredient to have a warning regarding serious liver damage.

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