Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act

The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) further improved protections and benefits for service men and woman under the former Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The purpose behind the act is to enable servicemembers of the United States to devote their full attention to duty while not having to worry about certain civil obligations back home. Such protections for service members in turn protect national interests.

The SCRA extends relief to all Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy service members on active duty, including reservists, members of the National Guard and Air National Guard who have been activated for duty, and active-service commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In addition, many of the provisions extend to spouses or dependents. The protection begins on the date of entering active duty and generally terminates within 30 to 90 days after the date of discharge from active duty.

Some of the protections from obligations that servicemembers can be protected against under the SCRA include protections against outstanding credit card debt, mortgage payments, pending trials, taxes, and terminations of lease. In regards to outstanding credit card debt, the SCRA limits interest on credit obligations incurred prior to military service or activation to 6 percent for active duty servicemembers. Furthermore, once a servicemember is no longer on active duty, the excess interest cannot then become due as the portion above 6 percent interest is to be permanently forgiven.

As for terminations of lease, a servicemember can terminate a housing lease if the servicemember receives a permanent change of station orders or is deployed to a new location for 90 days or more. A servicemember can also terminate a vehicle lease signed prior to joining the armed forces if the servicemember is called to active duty for 180 days or more. A vehicle lease can also be terminated if a servicemember receives orders for a permanent change of duty location outside the United States or is deployed for 180 days or more. A cell phone contract can also be terminated if a servicemember relocates for at least 90 days to a location that is not supported by the current cell phone service.

Servicemembers and their families can also be protected from eviction from housing while on active duty due to nonpayment of rents if the rent amount does not exceed a certain amount that is set every year. For 2015, the amount is $3,329.84 per month or less.

It is important to note that relief under SCRA is not always automatic and in some cases relief must be affirmatively invoked. If you have any questions and need assistance invoking your rights under the SCRA, it is important that you find legal assistance.

Options when you receive a traffic ticket

The most common types of traffic violations in California are classified as infractions and moving violations. In such cases, all that is needed to convict a person is proof that they committed the act, regardless of the driver’s intent. Some examples of these infractions include failure to obey traffic direction signs, not using turn signals, failure to stop at a red lights, and the most common violation in all of California, speeding.

Many of these citations do not require a court appearance and you can pay the ticket directly. Your ticket will outline how you may pay the ticket, which can usually be done through the mail, in person, or online. However, when you pay the ticket directly, you are essentially pleading guilty to the traffic offense and this carries the same consequences as being found guilty in a court of law. Drivers should be aware of what some of the possible consequences are. For example, many traffic offenses are automatically reported to California Driver Safety Offices and such offenses are regularly reported to other states. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) uses a point system to hand out penalties corresponding to each traffic violation. When enough points are added to your driving record, your license can be suspended. Added points to your driving record also commonly leads to higher car insurance premiums. Points on your driving record can add up quickly and it is possible to even receive jail time for some infractions.

If you would like to dispute a traffic violation, you must personally appear in court in order to enter a “not guilty” plea. If a deal cannot be reached with a prosecuting attorney, a trial date will be set. A trial gives you an opportunity to fight the traffic ticket in front of a judge or jury. This can be a scary process for many and most people prefer to hire an attorney to defend them in court.

Even if you think you are just dealing with a minor traffic ticket, you might still be facing tough and unnecessary legal penalties. If you want to challenge a ticket, trying to negotiate and argue your case by yourself can be very unpleasant and burdensome. Seek out an experienced traffic attorney who can answer your questions and help you keep your driving record clean.

Importance of photographs after an accident and what to photograph

After being involved in an auto accident, one of the most important things you can do is take pictures of the vehicle, scene, and injuries. Photos can be a great source of evidence when making a personal injury claim and can be used to help determine who is truly at fault. Pictures are not easily subject to interpretation, can help eliminate doubt, and can depict an accident scene more accurately than someone’s memories.

Auto accidents can be very traumatic and the most important thing is to ensure everyone’s safety. If necessary, you or someone should call 911 right away to report any injuries and the accident. It is only after everyone is safe and after the proper authorities have been notified that you should begin to take pictures. A good time to take pictures might be while you are waiting for the police to arrive. Soon after the police arrive, they will clear the scene to make it safe and to allow for traffic to resume its normal flow. You might need to act quickly to get shots of the scene exactly as it was before the scene is cleared.

Digital cameras are best for taking pictures and remember to make sure the time stamp function is on. If a digital camera is not available, cell phone cameras are improving with each new model of phone that comes out and pictures on your cell phone should work fine. There is no such thing as taking too many pictures at the scene of the accident. The more you take, the more likely you will be to have great pictures that capture important details.

Start by taking general photos of the scene using wide shots and many different angles. This can help set the scene for more detailed photos. Take lots of photos of the cars involved in the accident and try to include shots that help portray the proximity of the vehicles. Get close ups of the damage to your vehicle from many different angles and do the same for other vehicles involved in the accident. Include several photos of any injuries experienced by you, passengers, the other driver(s), or bystanders. Don’t be afraid to take pictures of all participants, whether they are injured or not, and the dispatched police officers and paramedics.

Make sure to take photos of traffic lights and signs as these can help determine fault. See if there are any skid marks or broken glass from the vehicles involved that you can photograph. Take photos of the current weather conditions. Was there any rain or snow on the ground? What was the position of the sun or how dark was it?

Having such photographs will strengthen your claim and when combined with the help of an experienced accident attorney, you are sure to receive the compensation you deserve.

Characteristics of Drowsy and Fatigued Drivers and Warning Signs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has presented data that suggests that driver fatigue is involved in 25% of all fatal accidents. However, what is even more concerning is that experts suggest that this percentage might even be higher. This is because it is hard for law enforcement to determine if drowsy driving was involved. Law enforcement cannot perform a test like a sobriety test to determine if someone is under the influence of alcohol. There is no real test to determine if a driver is fatigued.

While there is no exact test to determine if a driver is fatigued, some experts suggest that drivers are more likely to fall asleep while driving if they sleep for six hours or less on a consistent basis. These same experts also suggest that one is more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel if you are a snorer, or if you tend to doze off unintentionally during daylight hours. Unsurprisingly, accidents that occur as a result of a fatigued driver are most likely to occur at night and on highways or interstates. The CDC has also found that those who are most likely to drive drowsy are commercial drivers, shift workers (especially those with long or overnight shifts), drivers with sleep apnea, drivers who use prescription sedatives, and, most importantly, drivers who simply don’t get good sleep.

It is important to remember that falling asleep behind the wheel isn’t the only danger associated with tired driving. Drowsy driving can drastically impair your reaction time and affect your ability to make decisions. Even if you don’t fall asleep, fatigue makes you less attentive behind the wheel.

As you are driving yourself and with others, it is important to look for these warning signs in order to detect driver fatigue. These warning signs include: persistent yawning or frequently blinking, short-term memory lapses (i.e. difficulty remembering the last few miles you have driven), missing an exit, drifting in and out of your lane, and hitting the rumble strip on the side of the road.

If you should experience or witness any of these symptoms, the driver should pull over and rest or change drivers if possible. Rolling down the windows and blasting music will not be enough to prevent fatigued driving.

Truck Accidents due to fatigue

One of the most common causes, if not the most common cause, of trucking accidents is sleep deprivation or drowsy driving. Truckers are under pressure to avoid traffic and make their deliveries on time. Truckers can also face financial pressures, which encourages them to make more deliveries with less rest in order to make more money.

It is no secret that larger vehicles, such as 80,000 pound big rigs, often lead to greater destruction and injury when involved in accidents. In an effort to reduce truck accidents and to keep the roads safer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted regulations which trucking companies and truck drivers are to follow. Federal regulations require drivers of large trucks to keep logs of the hours worked, called hours of service, and breaks and rest periods taken, and places limits on the number of hours they can drive. The driver of a commercial truck is limited to working no longer than 14 hours and may drive for only 11 of those hours. Additionally, the driver must take a 10 hour break before driving again. Drivers may falsify their logs in order to cover more distance each day, which in turn leads to better pay. Some trucking companies turn a blind eye to this as it means greater profits for the trucking company.

Studies have shown that fatigue can potentially be as dangerous as drinking and driving. Without proper rest and a break from the constant action of driving, a person’s body can begin to shut down and cause various effects that make them no longer suitable to operate any vehicle, let alone a large truck. When a person drinks alcohol, they can begin to lose capabilities of judgment, reaction, perception and more. This is also true with sleep deprivation and these outcomes can be intensified when a driver is alone and staring at the road ahead. While driver fatigue is a cause for concern amongst all drivers, the long hours worked by truck drivers and their time spent on the road can put them at a particularly increased risk.

When involved in a truck accident, it is necessary to thoroughly inspect the driver’s log. Unfortunately, if the trucking company is not contacted soon after the crash, the logs and records may be lost, destroyed or misplaced. This is it why it is so important for victims to move quickly and seek help. Seek an experienced attorney who is familiar with the federal regulations and will act in your best interests to provide you with the compensation you deserve.