How Did I Get In So Much Debt?

There was a time, not long ago, when I was so convinced that I could handle all the costs of adulthood that I used to brag about it. When I would see friends struggling over some bills, I’d tell them they needed to be more like me, and keep everything in order.

What happened to that lady, I’d like to know? Well, I do know. First, I lost my job, the one that made it so easy to pay all my bills. When I lost it, I assumed I’d find more work quickly, but I’ve struggled to get back into the field and find a position that pays as well. It turns out, that job was far better than I even realized.

While I found some work relatively quickly, and the pay wasn’t awful, I quickly realized I’d overextended myself on a number of levels. There were credit card bills everywhere. I’d gone on a major trip shortly before I lost my job (unrelated to that, I just had a lot of vacation time saved up), and I’d put all of it on credit cards, assuming I’d have plenty of time and income to pay it off.

Well, so drowning in that, I, of course, got sick. Not ah-choo sick but hospitalized sick, and of course, I stupidly didn’t have insurance. I had been freelance at that well-paying job, which had been fine because I was young and healthy and didn’t think I needed benefits. Turns out, I needed benefits.

So, there were the medical bills settling in beside the credit card bills. Months rolled by, and I couldn’t pay the tax bill that came my way because I didn’t have the money. The funny thing about taxes is they go off your whole previous year’s income, but when you lose a lucrative job at the end of that year, you suddenly can’t afford the bill that comes from the government.

So, that went unpaid.

I’ve been struggling with all this for almost a whole year now, and I think I’m finally sick of it. I’m searching around and seeing a lot of places that say they can help with all this. This Erin B Shank, P.C. attorney, for instance, seems to cover all my bases. But I just don’t know if I can bring myself to just give up and declare bankruptcy. I’m young still, I could take the hit to my credit and move on, but I just feel too proud. Or delusional maybe. I keep thinking that next great job is going to show up soon.

Maybe it’s time to wake up and realize, first, I wasn’t nearly as good with money as I thought, and second, it’s time to wipe the slate clean and start over. Hopefully, I’ll be more responsible this time.

Taking advantage of nurses

This is an awful thing I’ve heard about this week. It’s not in the news, at least I’ve never heard about it before, but I’ve just found out that apparently, it’s really common for hospitals to try to short nurses out of some of their pay.

Can you believe that? I don’t know that I believe there’s any career nobler than that of being a nurse, and yet here we are, with hospitals stealing from them, outright stealing by refusing to pay what they’re owed.

How do that do that, you’re asking. It’s simple enough if you are willing to just do it and commit to such evilness. There’s a few methods that work:

You could demand nurses work off the clock, either making them do their paperwork without compensation (and who would want a job that doesn’t pay for doing the worst parts?) or just demand they keep working and taking care of patients off the clock.

Another method is by docking for meal times, even when nurses are too busy for a meal, which is often since it’s such an all-consuming job.

They can make nurses work before and after a shift, finishing up duties or getting a start before pay actually kicks in.

And then, of course, there are the unpaid meetings and training and other required activities that have to be done but for some reason don’t have to be paid for.

If the nurse isn’t at the hospital, there can be even more devious tricks, such as making nurses take a set fee for a home visit, even if such visits end up being more than 40 hours in a week.

Bosses can also refuse to pay for travel time.

These are just a few of the ways hospitals and other healthcare professions have connived to take from nurses, the people who have always seemed to me the most decent, hardworking, and genuinely compassionate people on the planet.

I just can’t understand how people can behave like that. Is their bottom line so hard to reach that they have to steal from such noble souls?

Well, I hope someone sues them for it. There are lawyers who go after places that treat nurses like that, and I hope any hospital or healthcare office that is committing these thefts of hours and wages issued and closed, no matter what the consequences.

If we can’t, as a society, at least all agree that nurses, who don’t make that much and do so much good without getting much credit, if we can’t agree that they deserve to be at least not cheated, I don’t know where we are anymore.

It just seems wrong to me that people would ever think to purposefully do this to others, especially when the victims are the people doing most of the unpleasant work making sure we’re healthy, happy individuals.

The Problem with Wrongful Termination

What is wrongful termination?

Texas, along with most states, has an at-will employment policy. This policy essentially states that the employer can end the employment contract at any time, for any reason, without prior notice. With guidelines like these, it appears that there would be no such thing as a wrongful termination, at least in the eyes of the law. However, there are several exceptions to at-will employment which employees can use against their previous employer.

Some of these exceptions revolve around contracts between the employee and the employer. When an employer and a worker enter into one of these contracts, they agree to alter the circumstances of the at-will employment agreement. Although these contracts can be verbal, the vast majority of them are written. This is for obvious reasons; it’s far easier for an employee to document a written contract, and much it’s much harder to prove that a verbal contract between an employer and a worker even existed. However, if these contracts can be documented, and it’s determined that the employer breached them in firing their employee, that worker does have a viable wrongful termination suit.

There are other exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine, largely centered around established federal laws. If an employee is terminated for committing an action within their rights, that the employer disagrees with or doesn’t like, then the terminated worker can file suit. These kinds of lawsuits are known as retaliatory termination suits. For example, if an employee files a worker’s comp claim with their employer, and are then terminated in retaliation to that claim, the employee has a valid wrongful termination suit. It’s also illegal for an employer to fire someone because of their report or claim of workplace harassment. It’s useful to keep track of the process one goes through when filing worker’s comp or reporting harassment so that documentation is available if one is fired in retaliation for taking advantage of these common worker’s rights.

Wrongful termination conditions also apply to federal anti-discrimination laws. An employer cannot terminate a worker on the basis of their race, sex, or sexuality. If you fall into one of these protected classes, you are sheltered by federal law from being terminated by your employer because of it.

Even with all these safeguards in place, wrongful termination suits are still very difficult to win in a state like Texas, which has anti-worker attitudes and laws. To successfully litigate a wrongful termination suit, meticulous documentation is needed to prove that one’s employer did in fact violate a contract or engage in retaliatory termination. Texas courts are likely to side with the employer due to the at-will employment doctrine unless the employee can show irrefutable proof that their employer violated one of these laws. For this reason, it’s essential that employees stay vigilant and document their interactions and agreements with their employer.

Texas Clear Lanes Project: Clearing the way to prevent deaths on the highway

The good news for people living in Texas is that the state’s economy is strong, with unprecedented growth over the past few decades. Texas’s strong economy has led to an explosive growth in the state’s population, however, with an estimated increase of 1,000 people per day (according to an estimate by the Texas Clear Lanes project).

With the increasing population, it is natural that there will be a correlated increase in the number of vehicles on the road, leading to additional congestion in some of the state’s already crowded roadways. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Dallas/Fort-Worth metroplex, which already gives drivers frequent headaches during the morning and evening rush hour periods specifically.

The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), sponsored by Texas A&M, found that the number of registered vehicles in the state increased by 172% in the past 40 years, while the state’s highway capacity has only increased by a paltry 19%. It is clear that the roadways in Texas are not fit to handle the stress and strain of such explosive traffic growth, and when congestion and overcrowding occurs, serious accidents involving injury and wrongful death are sure to follow.

The biggest cities in Texas: Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin contain more than 65% of the state’s population and are (unsurprisingly) home to 97 of the “Top 100 most congested roadways” in Texas.

These serious congestion issues directly correlate with an increase in accidents and wrongful deaths on the state’s roadways. While there are not always easy answers to growth like this, there are solutions that can be put in place to help alleviate the number of accidents. While more construction and additional roads may be one solution, that is a costly answer that is not always feasible. Some of the alternatives proposed by the Texas Clear Lanes Project include:

  • Commuting Alternatives – Businesses and workers may be able to find solutions to commuting including incentives, ridesharing, and other solutions to move traffic off the roadways at the busiest times.
  • Telecommuting – Companies are encouraged to let their employees work from home (when applicable and sensible) to lower the number of vehicles on the road, especially during the busiest commuting hours.
  • Alternate work hours – Maybe everyone doesn’t have to work 8:00 – 5:00? If possible, consider opening up your work shifts to allow for later starts or earlier releases for some employees.
  • Mass-transit incentives – Offering employees cash incentives or subsidies to take mass-transit alternatives or ride-sharing may be an effective solution for removing vehicles from the state’s roadways.
  • Health and Fitness programs – If your business is in a busy metro area or if your employees live relatively close to work, it might be a good idea to implement a health and wellness initiative to encourage them to walk or bike to work.

By implementing new strategies and incentives, businesses may be able to help their employees stay off the roadways during the busiest hours and may be able to lower the level of congestion in traffic in our state’s roadways. Whatever steps are taken ultimately may mean the difference between serious accidents and headaches in traffic moving forward.

Motorcycle Accident – A Major Cause of Fatality and Severe Injuries

As explained by the law firm Evans Moore, LLC, motorcycle accidents can happen for countless reasons. While some of them prove to be inevitable, many others are the result of a driver’s neglect of basic driving rules. These drivers fail to yield or even notice motorcycle riders, leading to devastating accidents. Motorcycles have limited safety measures to protect the rider, and consequently motorcycle riders face serious injuries when accidents occur. As a result, the majority of the costs associated with a motorcycle accident will be taken upon by the motorcycle rider. Some of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in Georgetown include: reckless driving, drunk driving, distracted drivers, motorcycle defects, or negligence

These common causes lead motorcycle riders to face many expensive consequences such as medical bills, insurance increases, motorcycle repairs, and lost wages. Burdens such as these can affect a motorcycle rider’s life for years, and it is unjustifiable when they did not cause the accident in the first place.

A motorcycle can be an excellent and adventurous transportation. The only major worry for motorcyclists is their vulnerability to possible severe injuries due to the lack of protective gears other than the helmet. Thus, despite the obvious benefits they have for their drivers, motorcyclists can be at serious risk of sustaining traumatic injuries when involved in accidents. Sadly, many drivers fail to drive safely around motorcycles, causing these devastating accidents to happen.

Based on 2012 records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 112,000 motorcycle mishaps during the said year; of this, 93,000 caused riders serious injuries, while 4,957 claimed riders’ lives. This only means that while it is true that motorcycles provide lots of conveniences, these also cause great risks.

Head-on collision is a major cause of fatality among motorcycle riders. This can also cause severe injuries, leaving riders with an amputated limb or permanent disability. It is a sad fact, however, that so many of these accidents are actually due to negligence or carelessness – by riders themselves, by the driver of the other motor vehicle involved in the crash, or by someone who never really did his/her job (like a city or local government personnel in charge of keeping roads safe from accidents or a manufacturer who produced a defective motorcycle or motorcycle part).

Since negligence can be dispelled through simple acts of diligence, getting hurt in an accident due to negligence or careless act can be prevented. However, being someone else’s fault, the victim has the right to pursue legal actions against the liable party for whatever present and future damages his/her injuries may result to. Seeking the assistance of a highly-qualified personal injury lawyer or motorcycle accident lawyer will definitely help the victim know and understand his/her legal rights and options.