Fraud is any dishonest deception intended to gain something by taking advantage of someone. It is an act of profiting from someone else’s loss. The basic elements of fraud include:

  • The intention to deceive
  • Misrepresentation of material fact
  • Knowledge of falsehood
  • Reasonable reliance by the victim
  • Injury suffered

Fraud can be a criminal or civil tort, depending on the situation. These two are different, and as such, criminal fraud cases will be handled differently from civil fraud cases. This article highlights the types of fraud, and their differences.

What is Criminal Fraud?

“Any action intended to deceive another through false representation of fact that causes a legal detriment to the person who relied on such information, according to criminal fraud law, amounts to a crime.” Criminal fraud is regarded as a “white collar crime.”

It is a crime that involves deception and cheating another party to gain a financial advantage over them. It includes using a false representation of facts to deceive an individual who is made to believe such information is reliable.

Local, state, or federal prosecutors usually enforce a criminal case. These prosecutors must prove that a defendant willingly committed the fraud, intending to enrich themselves from it and that the victim suffered losses. Even in cases where the fraud was unsuccessful, prosecutors can still pursue a criminal fraud case.

What is Civil Fraud?

Civil fraud is a type of fraud that also involves a forged misrepresentation or inducement. The plaintiff in a civil fraud claim must prove that they suffered damages from the act.

If the plaintiff in a civil fraud case wins, the defendant will have to pay back economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include loss of income, property, and other financial assets. Non-economic damages would cover things like pain, stress, and suffering.

What Differentiates Criminal Fraud from Civil Fraud?

“A basic difference between the two types of fraud cases is that a criminal fraud case usually occurs between the government and an individual, while a civil fraud case is between two individuals,” says attorney William M. Bailey of BK Law Group.

In a civil fraud case, the plaintiff who goes against the defendant is the victim of the fraud. But in a criminal fraud case, the government (prosecutors) attempt to prove the defendant is guilty of the fraud they are accused of.

Another difference is that the defendant faces possible imprisonment or probation, paying fines, and restitution to the victims in a criminal fraud case. However, in a civil fraud case, the punishment is often to reimburse for the damage suffered by the victim.

The difference here is that civil fraud cases are concerned solely with the payment of damages. In contrast, a criminal case will sanction the guilty defendant with fines, prison time, and other punishments.

One way a civil lawsuit differs from a criminal lawsuit is that the burden of proof is placed on different parties. In a civil case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant caused them injury through fraud. But in a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove the truth of the charges, and that the defendant committed fraud beyond a reasonable doubt.

Civil cases also see less publicity than criminal cases due to their nature. A lot of criminal cases involve witnesses, and may involve news coverage as well.

Conclusion

Criminal and civil are the two types of fraud that can lead to a lawsuit. While both cases have deception in common, they still differ.

Accidents are a common sight on U.S. roads — nearly 14,000 crashes are recorded each day. Therefore, knowing what to do and what to avoid after a crash is vital.

It is expected that you will be confused, shocked, or angry after an accident. However, the steps that you take after the crash should be intentional. First, ensure that you seek medical attention for injuries sustained, as health always comes first.

Next, ensure that you get a police report on the accident. Once all this is settled, you can hire a personal injury lawyer to advise on the next steps, like filing a personal injury lawsuit. Lawyers are very helpful in such circumstances due to the following reasons:

They Help Estimate the Value of Your Damages

Accidents will most certainly cause property and financial losses to the victims. While seeking compensation, it is common for insurance companies or the party at fault to offer a little reimbursement, often less than what you have lost. Having a lawyer by your side will protect you from under-compensation.

Lawyers know what to look for when making a settlement claim. When calculating your losses, they will include long-term costs like lost wages and medical bills. Moreover, they will also help quantify other aspects of your compensation claim, like psychological trauma, pain, and suffering.

They Give Professional Advice

Lawyers are very resourceful in guiding you after an accident. Firstly, they help you avoid pitfalls when speaking to insurance companies, authorities, and other parties. They will help generate statements that cannot be used against you in later stages of the case.

Similarly, they will provide tips on optimizing your case. This includes collecting vital information after a crash. Additionally, they will advise you to gather certain details from the accident scene as well as keep track of your medical and transport expenses.

Finally, they will instruct you on the steps to take. Without proper knowledge of personal injury claims, you might make mistakes that will impact the outcome of your claim. “Your lawyer may guide you on the course of action, especially if you are uncertain about what to do” says Andrew S. Kryder of The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident & Injury Lawyers.

They Represent You in Court

Following up on the case may be challenging if you are still recovering from the accident. Moreover, you may not be accustomed to the intricacies of the legal system. You might also have difficulties with the documentation process and meeting court deadlines.

An experienced lawyer can help you achieve all this without your direct involvement, which is helpful if you do not want public attention. They can collect important evidence and witnesses to help your case. Handling a personal injury claim by yourself might also be intimidating, especially when dealing with big companies.

They Help You Fight Intimidation Strategies

Employers and insurance companies can devise intimidation strategies like threats and lowball settlements to prevent you from filing a lawsuit. An attorney will help react accordingly to pressure from the workplace and other strategies by insurance companies to delay the claim process.

The Takeaway

Filing a personal injury claim is a long and complicated process. Fortunately, lawyers can help simplify the process by calculating your losses, gathering evidence, and representing you in court.

A good lawyer will also advise on what to do and avoid to improve your chances of receiving legitimate compensation.

As part of a broad criminal justice reform approved by President Donald Trump more than three years ago, the Justice Department will start transferring hundreds of offenders out of federal prisons this week.

In legislation published in the Federal Register on Thursday, the Department of Justice explains how “time credits” for convicts will function. The bipartisan legislation aims to encourage offenders to participate in recidivism-reduction programs, which could help them reduce their jail time.

It also makes obligatory minimum sentences less stringent and provides more leeway to judges in passing sentences. While the transfers are slated to begin this week, the exact number of inmates who will benefit from it is unknown. However, according to the government, “thousands” of convicts will be affected.

Inmates can earn time credits under a law enacted in December 2018 that allows them to earn 10 to 15 days of credit for every 30 days they participate in prison programs to minimize recidivism.

Anger management and addiction treatment are among the programs available, as are educational, career, and social skills workshops. The news of the publication of a finalized regulation came two months after the department’s inspector general raised concerns that the Bureau of Prisons had failed to apply earned time credits to nearly 60,000 federal offenders who had finished the programs.

It also came just a week after Michael Carvajal, the director of the jail service, announced his resignation in the face of rising criticism of his leadership. Both Democratic and Republican senators have pressed the Biden administration to do more to implement additional provisions of the First Step Act, and the FBI has been accused of dragging its feet.

For years, the bureau has had a serious staffing deficit, forcing teachers, cooks, nurses, and other employees to work as correctional officers. Employees have long maintained that taking them away from their other responsibilities to guard convicts causes delays in implementing the First Step Act because they have less time to teach seminars, examine release papers, and provide inmate services.

According to the Justice Department, the total number of programs for which offenders are eligible has risen, and detainees will not be penalized if they cannot participate due to circumstances beyond their control. For months, the department has been attempting to enhance bureau staffing.

The inmates who will benefit from the enactment will be placed in supervised release programs, home confinement, or the bureau’s residential reentry centers, also known as halfway houses. Inmates can earn time credits dating back to the First Step Act’s enactment in 2018.

The Law Outlines How Inmates Can Be Released

According to the Justice Department, specific offenders to be the first beneficiaries of the time credit program include:

  • Inmates with time credits that is more than the number of days remaining on their sentence
  • Inmates whose release is less than one year
  • Inmates who are on supervised release

Transfers are in the works. More are expected in the coming weeks when time credits are applied to convicts’ records. The rule also alters the definition of a “day” of credit at the agency.

To qualify for time credit equivalent to one day of jail term, offenders would have to participate for eight hours in specified academic programs or prison occupations, according to a suggested version released in January 2020.

However, the final version alters the timeline and states that the last criterion “was inconsistent with the law’s purposes.” For every 30 days that inmates participate in programs, they will receive 10 days.

Inmates who stay in lower-risk categories for the entire 30-day term will receive an additional five days of credit. According to advocates, the approved definition of a “day” will make it simpler for a wide range of prison programs to count toward time credits, allowing more prisoners to be eligible for early release.

Barriers Affecting the Implementation of the First Step Act

“In recent years, the Justice Department’s implementation of the First Step Act has run into serious roadblocks as there have been many concerns raised from different quarters” says criminal justice attorney Jeffrey Lichtman. Among these are the need to reassess the risk and needs of all federal detainees using new standards and a lack of space in prison programs due to recurrent staffing shortages.

This came after advocacy groups objected to the bureau’s use of a rebranded version of its security assessment system rather than building a new one. The Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risks and Needs (PATTERN) is a tool that uses an algorithm to examine all convicts and decide whether they are at high, medium, low, or no risk of reoffending.

The Justice Department altered the assessment program it was using to change measures. These measures potentially introduced a racial bias months after the bureau completed the legislation’s mandated “risk and needs” assessments. The assessments were revised to eliminate questions about an offender’s age when they were initially arrested and whether or not the inmate was offered the chance to turn themselves in at a jail.

However, campaigners claim that the PATTERN tool still has weaknesses and that it has resulted in racial discrepancies in its judgments in some circumstances. According to the rule, the department will continue to analyze the tool, consult outside experts, and attempt to “address and mitigate against racial bias or other inequities.”

Conclusion

Thousands of inmates will be relieved by this announcement, most especially those who have worked hard to turn their lives around and reunite with their families and communities as productive, law-abiding citizens. They can qualify for early release into welfare homes or home confinement if they acquire enough credits.

In some situations, offenders may be able to earn up to 12 months of credit toward supervised release. This initiative has given many prisoners hope of finishing their terms earlier than initially thought.

Some people may have the perception about the back seat being the safest spot for passengers. While this may have been true at one time, new safety technology in vehicles have made this assumption incorrect.

Recently, the numerous safety advancements in the automobile world have improved seatbelt technology among other changes. However, many of these advancements have predominantly benefited front-seat passengers.

After a car crash, the effect of the impact can be far worse for back-seat passengers than for the occupants in the front. Some reports indicate automakers are yet to offer the same safety features for back-seat passengers. However, there are plans to develop a technological safety feature for back-seat passengers.

Fatal Injuries Common With Back-seat Passengers

Studies have shown that back-seat passengers are faced with more fatal injuries than front-seat passengers. In the event of a car accident, back-seat passengers can experience:

  • Severe concussions
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Chest, Abdominal, Neck, and Spinal injuries
  • Bone fractures

Why Riding in The Back Seat is More Dangerous

The lives of front-seat passengers are at risk if back-seat passengers refuse to wear their seatbelts. This is because the space between them offers no protection from the impact of a collision.

Additionally, in the event of an accident, unfastened backseat passengers can be propelled forward, causing significant or even deadly damage to the driver or front-seat passenger.

However, safety isn’t assured for back-seat passengers who put on their seatbelts at all times. This is because some automakers create enhanced seatbelt technology for front-seat passengers while not offering such technology for back-seat passengers.

This is why, if compared to front-seat passengers who fastened their seat belts, buckled back-seat passengers are at higher risk of being severely injured in a car crash. Some vehicles have a more advanced front-seat belt option that adjusts instantly if a collision is likely, but this technology is not always used for seatbelts in back seats.

Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has advised people aged 55 and over to always stay in the front seat. In their study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that a higher number of fatalities were back-seat passengers between ages 50 to 80. They called on the auto industry to make the back seat a top priority in their newest auto technology.

Back Seat Safety Features Motorists Wish Were in Place

The safety of back-seat passengers is important. Automobile manufacturers are going ahead to create safety features that will safeguard all vehicle occupants, even as the auto industry and safety authorities learn more about the value of back-seat safety technology.

Some of the features that can provide additional safety for back-seat passengers include:

1. Airbags for Back-seat Passengers

Front-seat passengers enjoy the airbag safety feature. This feature can also be provided for back-seat passengers. The airbags can ensure that back-seat occupants do not collide with any hard surfaces, and prevent them from being fatally injured in the case of a crash.

Air-filled back-seat belts are available in some premium vehicles, minimizing the force on the occupant’s chest if there is a collision. Some auto manufacturers include airbags that expand from the back of the front seat, providing additional protection for the head, neck, and shoulders of back-seat passengers. The back airbags can be further tested to see if they are compatible with child car seats.

2. Individualized Protection

Back seats can be engineered to automatically change to accommodate the demands of a broad range of passengers of different sizes, ages, and shapes. There are reports that seat belt manufacturers are developing technology that adapts the position of the shoulder belt to the passenger to provide a secure fit.

3. Crash Simulation

There are no crash test ratings for the safety of back-seat passengers. Researchers at the Center of Injury Research Prevention are test running better safety measures for back-seat passengers using computational human body models.

These models measure how well a booster seat protects a child even if they are not sitting correctly. Some researchers are also running simulations using taller or shorter occupants than usual, as crash simulation mannequins do not typically reflect these people.

Ways to Make the Back Seat Safe for Children

Children and babies frequently occupy the back seat of a car. Even if a car does not have the latest back-seat belt technology, parents and guardians can do the following to ensure that the back seat is safe.

1. Choose a Suitable Car Seat

The process of selecting a safe spot in the car can be pretty challenging. Parents or guardians must determine whether it is suitable to switch their child from a back-facing seat to a forward-facing seat in addition to selecting the seat.

Except if the child’s height and weight matches the limits listed on the car seat label, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that children under the age of two ride in a back-facing car seat. Children should sit in a booster seat and remain in a forward-facing car seat until they can no longer fit in it. A pediatrician can recommend the safest car seat based on a child’s height, weight, and age.

2. Dispose of Loose Objects

Most times, objects such as cans, plastics, and other items are frequently left on the passenger seat, the floor, or the console between the front seats by drivers. These objects can cause harm to a driver or passengers if there is a sudden halt or collision. It is advisable to put all loose objects in the trunk of a car, glove compartment, or behind the seat pockets.

 3. Change Faulty Car Seats

If a car seat has torn straps or is otherwise defective, it should be changed immediately. Car seats are costly, but parents should avoid buying used car seats to cut costs.

It is difficult to determine if the second-hand product was correctly used and maintained. If there are loopholes like some parts missing or broken, it may not protect the child from severe injuries if there is a car crash.

Conclusion

Back-seat passengers are at higher risk of injuries in a car crash. Automakers can help in minimizing this risk by paying more attention to the safety of backseat passengers while coming up with new car safety features.

Dump trucks are standard in areas close to construction sites or quarries. Dump trucks are essential to the construction process by transporting materials to building sites. These multipurpose heavy-duty trucks transport large volumes of loose materials such as dirt, sand, ores, gravel, and more.

Unfortunately, dump trucks can also be dangerous, especially in tip-over accidents. Over the past few years, dump truck accidents have steadily risen, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported, and can cause severe injuries and death.

What Makes Dump Truck Accidents Dangerous?

In 2019, dump trucks accounted for 8 percent of all fatal accidents involving large trucks and buses. These trucks were involved in more than 6000 crashes that resulted in severe injuries during the same year.

A dump truck can become dangerous when there is instability or unevenness during the dump. The Texas Department of Worker’s Compensation (TDI) mentions how this can occur in many ways below:

Stability of the Truck End Dump

When the back-end box carrying the materials in the truck is raised, the truck’s center of gravity can become unbalanced. The lack of stability on these trucks during unloading can increase the chances of a tip-over accident.

Uneven Loads

In addition, the truckload can be packed unevenly, furthering the chances of a tip-over accident. Sometimes the truck driver may need to unload on uneven ground or slopes. This may cause the load to not flow appropriately during dumping, increasing danger for the driver and those around the truck.

Wheel Stability and Mechanical Factors

The truck’s stability may also be compromised if the back wheels settle unevenly while dumping. Finally, mechanical factors can also contribute to the dump truck’s stability. Some mechanical factors include poor suspension, uneven tire pressure, and worn or inadequate components in the lifting system.

How to Prevent Dump Truck Accidents

How can you prevent dump truck accidents? The TDI has recommended several tips you could follow to prevent dump truck accidents:

Stick to the Weight Limit

This may seem obvious, but you may be surprised how many people ignore this rule. Ignoring the weight limit increases the chances of an accident as it can tamper with the truck’s stability.

Use the Right Type of Truck

The nature of the job will determine the correct type of truck. Note that there are different types of dump trucks, each designed for a specific job.

Lighten the Load

It is best to lighten the load whenever the truck carries poor flowing materials. This will help maintain stability and reduce the chances of an accident.

Check the Ground before Dumping

Before dumping, you should ensure that the truck is on even ground. It would be best if you stayed away from soft, uneven surfaces. Also, always dump away from vehicles and people.

Maintain the truck

Ensure you have a strict maintenance schedule for the truck with regular inspections. Failing to identify malfunctions or damages to the truck can easily lead to injury.

Conclusion

Ultimately, it is the duty of employers and dumps truck manufacturers to enforce federally approved safety procedures to prevent workplace injuries. Workers are entitled to a worker’s compensation claim whenever they sustain an injury while at work.

If a dump truck is involved, the worker may file a claim against the manufacturer for additional damages. Lastly, if the truck was sold in an unsafe condition, the worker can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor.

Therefore, you must adopt adequate safety measures to prevent dump truck accidents. Apart from injury and death, these incidences can result in potential lawsuits.

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If you are convicted of a crime, you can expect several outcomes at sentencing, one of which could be probation. Probation means you do not have to serve time in jail, which can be quite a relief.

However, not serving time in prison doesn’t mean your life will not be disrupted. Sometimes the terms of probation can be so restrictive that keeping them is almost impossible. If you are taking probation as part of a plea deal, it is best to work with a criminal defense lawyer to ensure that the terms of your probation match your charge.

There are also situations where probation is a condition for release for individuals that have served extended time in prison, which also comes with strict control.

You Can Travel But With Restrictions

One significant restriction which comes with probation is out-of-state travel. However, the restrictions can vary based on the terms of individual probation sentences and the underlying circumstances, such as if the person serving the probation had done time for a felony offense.

If you get probation as a first-time offender or through a plea deal, the terms of your probation could be much lighter, and the probation officer may not be so rigid in granting a request to travel when necessary, for example, for a job. But travel restrictions may be much stricter if your probation comes after serving considerable jail time or a felony conviction. Under such circumstances, the probation officer and the court may deem you a flight risk requiring you to report to the probation officer every few days.

But even then, the probation officer has the liberty to grant your request to travel based on the seriousness of your reason for travel. However, you must maintain contact with your probation officer the entire time and communicate any change of plans to avoid a violation of your probation terms.

Probation Violations

If there are reasonable grounds for suspicion of probation terms violations, your probation officer can order your arrest. Under such circumstances, they do not need to get a warrant of arrest or serve the judge with an affidavit. If convicted for probation violations, you risk facing additional sentencing.

In most cases, violation of probation terms results in prison sentences. If you are charged with probation terms violation, you may want to speak to a criminal defense lawyer for help securing a favorable outcome.

It may also be possible to modify your probation terms depending on your state of residence with the help of a lawyer and your probation officer. However, a review of probation terms mainly depends on a probationer’s compliance with the terms in a given period.

In some states, the waiting period for a term’s review is six months. In others, you have to wait until you are halfway through your probation period. Either way, good conduct is a significant factor in determining your success in having your terms reviewed.

A Lawyer Can Help

It is not a legal requirement to maintain contact with your lawyer throughout your probation period. But you may still want to keep them close because you may encounter complications.

For instance, poor communication can hinder your chances of getting travel clearance, so you may want to channel your communication with the probation officer through your lawyer for such matters. Alternatively, you can involve them when you encounter challenges in your quest to get clearance.

Being involved in an accident or watching a loved one go through pain due to an accident can be traumatizing. However, suppose the accident resulted from another’s negligence. In that case, it is ideal to file a lawsuit to get the needed compensation to cover medical expenses and any other form of loss that you may sustain.

Personal injury lawsuits help to provide some form of closure for accident victims and help to offset the financial implications of such accidents. Therefore, those who experience pain and suffering from their injuries sustained in an accident should consult a seasoned personal injury attorney who will walk them through obtaining compensation.

What are Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Personal injury cases are lawsuits filed by one party against another that they believe is liable for the injuries they suffered. A personal injury case allows accident victims to receive compensation from the “at fault” party. Once the compensation amount has been determined, the liable party’s insurance company will pay the injured party.

In some situations, multiple persons may be liable for the injury suffered by the victim. For instance, in a medical malpractice case, both the medical personnel and the hospital may be responsible for damages. When you decide to seek compensation for a personal injury, the attorney may advise that you settle in court or out of court.

If the victim decides to opt for an out-of-court settlement; the attorney will go through negotiation and mediation. The attorneys of both parties and the insurance companies will negotiate and come to an agreed amount, which is formally documented and paid out. Many attorneys often advise for out-of-court settlements; however, where this fails, your attorney may opt for filing a lawsuit.

Grounds for Filing Personal Injury Lawsuit

There are several grounds on which an individual can file a personal injury lawsuit, and they include:

  • Situation of negligence: Negligence is usually the most common ground for filing a personal injury lawsuit. If an individual fails to exercise caution or a certain level of care towards another, thereby leading to injury or losses, they can become culpable for such losses.
  • Intentional wrong: This results from any deliberate action the defendant carries out towards the plaintiff that led to the injury.
  • Strict liability does not consider the defendant’s intention or whether they acted negligently. For instance, where a defective product causes injury, the product’s manufacturer will be held liable even if they had good intentions.

Types of Personal Injury Cases

There are various types of personal injury cases. Individuals can file a lawsuit and seek compensation for injuries sustained due to any of the following:

1. Slip and Falls

Slips and falls are among the most typical personal injury cases. Owners of properties have a legal obligation to ensure that their properties are safe for individuals on the property. Suppose people sustain an injury on a property and the cause is traceable to the negligence of the owner of the property.

In that case, the landlord can be held liable and required to pay compensation to the victim. Where the property in question is a rental property, the extent of the landlord’s liability may be determined by the contract terms, which specify the owner’s legal duties. This means that the landlord may not be liable for every slip and fall.

2. Car Accidents

Most road accidents occur due to negligence on the part of a road user. Car accident cases make up a large percentage of all personal injury cases recorded in the United States. Where accidents occur because of a driver’s carelessness, the driver will be required to pay compensation to the victim.

However, there are exceptions when the accident occurs in a “no-fault” state. In no-fault states, the insurance company pays off the driver’s financial liabilities except where the insurance does not cover the injury.

3. Slander and Libel

Unlike other personal injury cases where the defendant is liable for another’s injury, slander and libel cases hold the defendant responsible for damages to another’s reputation due to false-negative statements made against the victim. For a case of slander and libel to hold water, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered financial losses due to untrue statements attributed to the defendant.

4. Battery and Assault

This type of personal injury does not have elements of negligence or carelessness. Instead, it charges the defendant for intentionally attacking and inflicting physical harm on another in most cases. Most times, assault and battery personal injury cases are also accompanied by filing a criminal lawsuit against the defendant.

5. Medical Malpractice

Healthcare providers face the risk of facing a personal injury lawsuit in instances where their negligence results in the injury or death of their patient. Once it has been established that the patient’s injury was caused by treatment that was below the standard care, the medical practitioner or practice can be held liable for such injuries.

6. Dog Bites

Dog owners are financially culpable for injuries caused by their dogs. The extent of responsibility, however, is particular to different states. For instance, in some states, the “one-bite” rule applies. Under the “one-bite” rule, the dog owner is liable if the dog has shown signs of aggression in the past, but the owner failed to take any action to remedy that.

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The last two years have made history in the number of fatalities recorded on American roads. The spike in fatalities was noticeable soon after most states went on lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The uptick came as a surprise to experts because the expectation was that the rate of fatalities would slump with fewer cars on the road. As the economy reopened and more cars came back on the road, the rate of deaths on the road seemed to change for the worse, with approximately 32,000 deaths recorded in the first nine months of 2021. That figure is 12 percent higher than the numbers recorded in the same period in 2020.

Pedestrians Death Statistics

While most recorded fatalities involved persons in a vehicle, pedestrian deaths have also shown a drastic increase. According to the Governors Highways and Safety Association, approximately 6,721 pedestrian deaths were recorded in 2020. This number represented a 4.8 percent increase in the previous year’s numbers, at 6,412. The NHTSA is yet to release 2021 data but going by the accidents reported in the first nine months of the year, pedestrian deaths are likely to hit a record high.

While the last two years have been especially bad, the last decade has seen a steady rise in pedestrian fatalities, with data indicating a 45 percent rise in fatal pedestrian accidents between 2010 and 2019. In the ten years, 53,435 pedestrians died after being hit by vehicles.

Anxiety Plays a Role

According to experts, the high incidence of pedestrian fatalities in 2020 and 2021 may have resulted from anxiety, DUI, and the fraying of social norms. “2020 was the darkest year in the recent past; people lost jobs, and the future looked very uncertain,” says car accident attorney Maxwell Paderewski of Lone Star Injury Attorneys .

The uncertainty causes anxiety which presents a high likelihood of taking the driver’s mind from the road resulting in an accident. The fraying of social norms like meeting up with friends and relatives meant that many drivers did not find a way of relieving built-up pressure further increasing anxiety evidenced by a surge in road rage.

Lack of Enforcement

The open roads also created an opportunity for drivers to engage in risky driving behavior like speeding. In 2020 a woman was arrested for killing a pedestrian while speeding along Central Avenue. According to her boyfriend, they were engaging in a game of racing home in separate cars. This is only one case among many where drivers were engaged in reckless behavior on open 2020 roads that had a record number of auto fatalities despite the low volume of cars on the road.

Lack of enforcement in 2020 also contributed to reckless driving at the height of the pandemic, even as police minimized traffic stops for fear of exposure. This lack of enforcement encouraged some drivers to engage in risky driving behavior like Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

The Pedestrian Share the Blame Too

Drivers are not to blame for all pedestrian deaths. Sometimes it is the pedestrian that is at fault. According to data from the NHTSA, three out of four passenger deaths happen at night. Unfortunately, not many pedestrians think about visibility when walking at night, increasing their possibility of being hit by a vehicle.

It is unlawful for a pedestrian to leave the sidewalk and enter the road in a manner that puts a motorist in danger of hitting them. Unfortunately, jaywalking is pretty common, especially with intoxicated pedestrians increasing their chances of getting hit.

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Crime rates across the U.S. have steadily fallen over the past few decades. However, the murder rate rose 30 percent between 2019 and 202, the most significant single-year increase since the early 1900s (1905, to be precise), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This increase even exceeded the 20 percent rise in the murder rate from 2000 to 2001, including the deaths resulting from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Discussions regarding appropriate law enforcement practices increased following this unexpected uptick. Over the years, several suggested police reforms have been proposed, ranging from the widespread use of body cameras to abolishing the police.

Debate On How To Reform Police

The yearly declines in murders and calls for increased vigilance in the wake of police killings prompted police reforms in past years. What was already a widely-debated topic and become even more controversial in the face of continuing community unrest and increasing crime rates.

Some are proponents of harsher policing measures to help curb what many fear will be a continuing problem (that is, they fear the murder rate will continue to rise), such as re-introducing stop-and-frisk policies. Others advocate for reforming current policing measures, such as bringing in use-of-force consultants and better de-escalation tactics. And yet more want to integrate expanded services that involve the police coordinating with community services, such as teaching officers how to respond to calls involving mentally ill or disabled individuals.

There is little agreement between political factions (and even within the parties) on the most appropriate reforms. Many are concerned about addressing persistent violence without violating individuals’ constitutional rights or further damaging the relationship between officers and the communities they protect.

Potential Causes For Violent Crime Increases

Similar to the murder rate, aggravated assault rose roughly 12 percent between 2019 and 2020. Violent crime increased approximately five percent during this same period, though rape and robbery (two specific subsets of violent crime) both decreased.

There is conjecture surrounding what caused the sudden upward trend in murder and other violent crimes. Two commonly-cited potential causes are the economic and social stress brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the strained relations between police and communities following events such as the murder of George Floyd.

However, preliminary data suggest that it may be possible to rule out responses to police killings as one reason for the increased murder rates. As reported by The Washington Post, which tracks police-involved fatal shootings, the number and circumstances of fatal shootings remain relatively consistent (roughly 1,000 per year). There was an increase from 2019 (999 shootings) to 2020 (1,021 shootings), but a decrease from 2020 to 2021 (962 shootings). 

Context For The Increased Murder Rate

Though this sharp rise is the largest single-year increase recorded since the early 1900s, the 2020 murder rate (7.8 homicides per 100,000 people) was still 22 percent lower than the 1991 murder rate (10 homicides per 100,000 people) and far below the murder rates of the 1970s and 1980s.

Additionally, the Pew Research Center reported that roughly 61 percent of U.S. adults described violent crime as a “very big problem.” Although, the murder rate for 2020 was 42 percent lower than the suicide rate (13.5 deaths per 100,000 people) and 71 percent lower than the rate of deaths related to drug overdoses (27.1 deaths per 100,000 people).

As discussions continue for what reforms are most appropriate for the future, it is important to keep historical context in mind. In this manner, individuals will be able to propose reforms and practices informed by the past but equipped to handle the present and future.

Unexpectedly losing a loved one is traumatic, and no amount of money could replace that pain. When the death occurs due to someone else’s negligence or irresponsible actions, the grief can feel even more severe. However, filing a wrongful death lawsuit can help lessen the financial burden and provide a sense of justice for the recovering family.

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Child custody disputes are not uncommon when the relationship between the parents has come to an end. When the matter cannot be settled amicably, parents may have to involve lawyers, a mediator, or even seek the court’s intervention on who the child(ren) will live with.

If you are paying the fees for a child custody hearing, especially without savings, your costs will most certainly increase the burden on an already stressful court case. The good news is that understanding what to expect in a child custody case can help you to minimize your costs.

The Average Cost of a Child Custody Case

“Most parents do not pursue child custody after a marriage has broken down because of the additional stress and high costs that come with it,” said family lawyer Nicole Bikakis of Dolan Divorce Lawyers, LLC. While child custody battles can be expensive, the cost may vary widely due to the many variables involved in a child custody case.

Under normal circumstances, the cost will range somewhere between $3,000 to $40,000 in total expenses. However, it can be far more expensive based on the case’s circumstances. Attorney’s fees account for a large portion of the overall total cost, but there are more factors that determine how expensive a case will be.

Here are some of the factors that greatly affect the cost of a child custody case.

Type of Custody Dispute

Much like divorce, there are two different types of child custody disputes: contested or uncontested.

Having a contested case typically means there is a challenge or dispute regarding how the child’s custody will be handled. For instance, if one party is determined to have sole custody and doesn’t cooperate or agree to anything, the case will proceed to trial in court. This often requires depositions, court time, and much more.

On the contrary, having an uncontested case means both parties agree on all the major issues. Since both parents already agree on most issues, an uncontested child custody case will cost a lot less to resolve than a contested case. In addition, an uncontested case gives the option to use mediation instead of a trial.

Although mediation is not free, it is the less expensive option. A mediator is often paid hourly and charges anywhere between $100 to $300 per hour.

Specialists and Expert Witnesses in The Custody Case

If the custody case is aggressively contested, the court may call a specialist or an expert, such as a psychologist or doctor, to give their opinion. However, these professional witnesses can be very expensive. Even if the dispute is amicable, the parties involved may still need to undergo a custody evaluation.

Custody evaluation, including tests, interviews and professional monitoring, also impacts the overall cost of a child custody case. It can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $6,000.

Miscellaneous Fees

Besides the cost of an attorney, the overall cost of a child custody case will also include some miscellaneous fees. An example of a miscellaneous fee is the payment for the sheriff or a third-party process server who represents the other party, which costs approximately $30. Other additional fees might include the fees associated with filing the required documents and papers with the court, which can cost as little as $1 or as much as $300.

Putting It All Together

Child custody cases can be emotionally and financially draining to parents. Since these cases usually get heated and can take time to resolve, you need a family lawyer in your corner to ease your burden while working through this complicated legal matter.

In the first six months of 2021, the U.S recorded the highest death toll in the past 15 years. The secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, considered the event a “crisis,” stating that above 20,000 died in road accidents within the first six months, leaving behind thousands of loved ones. These fatalities can not and should not be accepted as an everyday event in America.

“The increase in road fatalities notwithstanding the restrictions in movement as a result of the pandemic is a cause for concern,” says Lin McCraw, personal injury attorney.

There have been collective efforts from law enforcement agencies and transportation officials to bring down the number of deaths to a bare minimum.

Death Toll Statistics

Drawing from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), an estimated number of 20,160 people died in vehicle traffic crashes within the first half of 2021. This figure represents about an 18.4 percent increase compared with the first half of 2020, which had a figure of 17,020 as projected.

This figure not only represents the highest fatality rate ever recorded in the U.S. since 2006, but it also represents the highest percentage increase ever recorded in a half-year in the data record history.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 8,935 fatalities were recorded in the first quarter, a 13.1 percent increase from previous quarters. The department recorded 11,225 deaths in the second quarter, a 23.1 percent increase. The sum of the two quarters records a total of 20,160 fatalities and a percentage change increase of 18.4%.

Traffic Safety Misbehaviors

Observation reveals that many drivers, especially motorists ignore the speed limits while hurrying to meet up with an occasion, a job, or an appointment. And, they fail to obey basic safety rules like wearing a seat belt, which has increased the number of ejections from fast-moving vehicles.

Private research supervised by the federal transportation safety expert reveals that some drivers use their cell phones to call or chat while behind the wheels. Many fatalities have also been linked to the use of drugs and alcohol during the COVID-19 period. These factors have contributed to the increase in road fatalities.

Sometimes body weakness can also contribute to poor driving, such as sickness or sleepiness. Though this might appear to be outside the driver’s control, it can be managed by just staying out of the wheel for the period.

This suggestion also stands for taking some medication before stepping on the wheels. No matter how compelling, these situations have consequences for the public’s safety.

Caution Against Traffic Safety Misbehaviors

In reaction to these misbehaviors, the deputy administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Dr. Steven Cliff, commented in a sad and cautionary note. He considered the report disheartening.

Drivers could do more to reduce accidents on the road by wearing a seat belt or driving with extra care, which involves avoiding any form of distractions while on the wheel. He urged that everyone put hands on deck to prevent road fatalities and end any form of dangerous driving.

The road safety authorities, including the police, have taken it upon themselves to trail speeders and offenders who violate road safety rules in hopes of reducing accidents and influencing people to take more precautions.

For example, the Government officials of some Districts, the District of Columbia, have vowed to address safety issues involving roads’ optimal signage and speed limits design and construction, particularly to safeguard pedestrians and bicyclists.

Wrapping up

Regardless of the spontaneous rise in road fatalities, the situation can still be cushioned by intentionality and selflessness on the part of everyone, which includes drivers and road authorities. If drivers, be you, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or vehicle, can be more responsible behind the wheels, there certainly will be a decreasing change in road accidents.

Reston Hospital Center is now requiring its staff to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, reversing course on a previous policy that did not require staff to be vaccinated.

The hospital, which is part of the HCA Healthcare, did not institute a vaccine mandate due to a pending court case against vaccine mandates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In a 5-4 ruling last week, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the vaccine mandate, which covers nearly all healthcare workers, to proceed.  The ruling covers two dozen states under federal injunctions that prohibited the CMMS from imposing mandates. It applies to roughly 76,000 health care facilities, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.

In their opinion, justices implied that the court’s ruling overrode state laws that ban vaccination requirements at facilities taking part in the Medicaid and Medicare programs. As a result, failing to comply with the ruling could compromise some health care facility’s ability to serve patients under the Medicare and Medicaid program.

“To ensure our ability to continue caring for Medicare and Medicine patients, Reston Hospital will comply with the CMS mandate and require colleagues covered by the mandate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or seek a religious or medical exemption,” Suzanne Kelly, the healthcare system’s marketing and communications director, wrote in a statement.

The court also ruled that the OSHA mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees was not enforceable and exceeded the office’s statutory authority.

All staff is required to receive their first dose of the vaccine by Jan. 27 and be fully vaccinated by Feb. 28.

The hospital did not provide information on vaccinations rates for staff, although a spokesperson said a majority of its staff are vaccinated.

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

Northam Advocates for Vaccine Requirements — Gov. Ralph Northam urged business leaders to follow the public sector in setting COVID-19 vaccination mandates at a Capital Region Business Forum in D.C. yesterday (Thursday). His comments came hours before President Joe Biden announced that all businesses with more than 100 workers must require the vaccine, among other new rules. [Inside NoVA]

Feds Use Reston Company’s Data Against Facebook — The Federal Trade Commission revealed user data on Wednesday (Sept. 8) that officials said supports their antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, which argues that the social media company has a monopoly. The FTC cited data from Reston-based market research firm Comscore that it says Facebook uses to prepare materials for CEO Mark Zuckerberg. [Bloomberg]

Tephra Sculpture Celebration Kicks off Art Festival — The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival starts today (Friday) with a long-awaited celebration of artist Sue Wrbican’s surrealist-inspired Buoyant Force sculpture in Reston Town Square Park. Now in its 30th year, the festival will continue through the weekend with live performances and more than 200 artists present to share and sell their work. [Tephra ICA]

Smithsonian Creates Archive of 9/11 Memories — “The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is gathering written and recorded memories of 9/11 for the 20th anniversary of the attacks. You can submit your written memories, photos, or a video to the Smithsonian’s ‘9-11: An Evolving Legacy’ website. You can also read what has been submitted so far.” [DCist]

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Morning Notes

Lake Anne Plaza fountain in August (via vantagehill/Flickr)

COVID-19 Vaccine Recommended for Pregnant People — “COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 12 years and older, including those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or would like to get pregnant. The rise in COVID-19 cases, low vaccine uptake among pregnant people, and the increased risk of severe illness during pregnancy make vaccination more urgent than ever.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Local Cycling Studio Announces Vaccine Requirement — Starting Sept. 1, New Trail Cycling in Lake Anne Plaza will require patrons to provide proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to take an indoor class. Owner Liz Camp says she’s not aware of any other businesses in the Reston and Herndon area with a similar policy but felt it’s a necessary extra step to keep people safe and healthy as cases rise. [New Trail Cycling]

Police Union Supports Eliminating Ticket-Writing Quotas — The Virginia Police Benevolent Association, which represents 750 state troopers, says it’s working with the General Assembly on a law that would prohibit law enforcement agencies from imposing quotas on officers, saying that approach is outdated and leads to more negative interactions with the public. Virginia State Police officials deny using quotas, but emails suggest troopers are evaluated in part by how many tickets they write. [WTOP]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Metro Reports Pandemic Ridership High for Fourth of July — “The transit agency said it saw a pandemic-record high ridership during the [Independence Day] holiday. As of 10 p.m. Sunday, about 174,000 trips were taken on the rail system, Metro tweeted Sunday night. That’s the highest single-day ridership since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.” [WTOP]

Man Arrested for Attempted Robbery in Reston — “Officers from the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police arrested a Centreville man Thursday [July 1] in connection with an attempted robbery in Reston…The victim returned to his car, which was parked near the intersection of Clubhouse Road and North Shore Drive around 4:53 a.m., when he found a man rummaging around inside it, police say.” [Patch]

Leidos Offers Employees a Year’s Pay to Get COVID-19 Vaccine — In an effort to counter slowing inoculation rates, the Reston-based information technology contractor has set aside $1 million to give 10 randomly selected employees a year’s worth of pay if they get the COVID-19 vaccine. Eight Leidos workers have died from the virus, including one D.C. area resident. [The Washington Post]

Virginia’s Death Row Officially Vacant — “With the death penalty formally abolished in Virginia as of this week, death row is now officially vacant, according to prison officials. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney said the two remaining prisoners facing death sentences were moved off death row after the legislation was signed earlier this year.” [Virginia Mercury]

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