When we see buses slowly crawling along city streets or slowly driving through suburban neighborhoods to pick up children, it’s hard to imagine such vehicles could do much damage in an accident. They are, almost to the point of annoyance for many people, chronically slow moving.
For many people, this can feel like a negative. Anyone stuck behind a bus in the city knows the exasperation with the slow-starting, slow-moving, often stopping city bus.
But for all the tortoise pace of the average bus, accidents do happen, and those accidents are often quite serious.
They’re serious for the obvious reason. Buses are huge. When they run into something, they do a lot of damage. While this is rare because of how they are hampered in their action (constantly needing to pick up people and let them off), when they do hit something, it likely leads to some very unfortunate consequences.
What is particularly upsetting about these unfortunate consequences, when they do occur, is that the people most often affected are children and the elderly. Who else rides the bus as often as those two groups?
According to USA Today, there were only about 1,200 bus-related accidents in the country between 2004 and 2013. However, those accidents resulted in 134 deaths.
That number includes many people who weren’t even on the bus. In fact, 21% of those killed were outside the bus at the time of the accident.
While these numbers may seem low compared to the high overall numbers of vehicle accidents in the country, two things should be kept in mind. First, this is only school buses, not city buses or other buses (such as long-distance buses like Greyhound). And second, again, these are kids we’re talking about.
In order to lower these numbers even further, more should be done to make sure all students have seat belts on the bus, and that bus drivers are rigorously tested to make sure they are very safe and reliable drivers. The same should be expected of city buses, although seat belts are obviously not possible in that case.
The number of overall truck and bus accidents has been going up in recent years, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which means there’s never been a better time to start implementing higher standards for drivers and start looking for more innovations to help lower these numbers.
When buses are tasked with watching over our children and the elderly, and when the driver is responsible for such powerful machines, more has to be done to make sure everyone is safe onboard and on the street. There’s no excuse for any accident to be caused by a bus. As inconvenient as it can feel to drivers sometimes, buses should always be slow to start, slow to move, often stopping, and above all, safe.
For all of human history, people have gathered in their community centers to socialize, barter, and share in the human experience. Even ancient cultures took pride in their communities, and local governments would undertake grand building projects in order to beautify the landscape for their own people as well as visitors. Even today, one small town in Illinois is continuing the tradition of celebrating their town history and pride with a beautification project.
According to this article in the Daily Herald, the small village of Antioch in northern Illinois is about to celebrate its 125th anniversary. Comprising just about 15,000 people, Antioch is the definition of a small town, but it is incredibly proud of its history. In order to cap off an entire summer of celebrations, the town is installing a new 18-foot clock tower downtown across from the village hall. The clock tower had been acquired a number of years ago but has been kept in storage all this time. The city council originally planned to install it elsewhere, but a road-building project got in the way. In addition to the new clock, the area around the village hall will undergo a major landscaping update. Originally, the old village hall was to be torn down and replaced, but there was never enough money in the budget for that. Not even landscaping had been improved in over 15 years because there was never room in the budget for it. The total cost of this 125th-anniversary project is about $44,000 and will add “color for every season” to the aging town hall. The project will also include new benches and lighting, as well as a plaque celebrating the village history. The scenery will also highlight a veterans memorial in the village hall courtyard.
Especially for small towns, community history is incredibly important. I think that it is unfortunate that it took so much time for the mayor and the city council to decide to beautify the downtown area. More local governments should take as much pride in their communities as the people who live there. Certainly, since the mental health benefits of attractive landscaping have been proven time and again, it would add plenty of value to the community for years to come and even attract more tourists and potential new residents.
Of course, it costs a significant amount of money to undertake a landscaping project of this magnitude, so landscaping is an easy thing to cut out of most city budgets. However, you can landscape your own home for much less, and it will still beautify and add value to your community. In the greater Chicago area, Ware Landscaping is one such company that will take all of the guesswork and help you in your landscaping endeavors. All of us are part of a community in one way or another, and if the local government is too slow in making the community beautiful, the onus falls on us.
Chapter 7 will allow you to discharge most of your debts and still keep some exempt property such as your homestead, your vehicle, and personal possessions. However, according to the website of Gagnon, Peacock, Vereeke, some debts are non-dischargeable and cannot be wiped out. These include:
- Back child support and other types of family support
- Debts for DWI (driving while intoxicated) personal injury
- Traffic tickets and criminal restitution
- Income tax and other tax debts within the last three years
- Debts not included in your bankruptcy filing
The last item happens more often than it should. In most cases, this is because the filer decided to accomplish the forms on their own in the mistaken believe that they are saving money by not enlisting the help of a bankruptcy lawyer. This is a false economy, especially when a creditor files an objection to discharge for a dischargeable debt. This may include:
- Credit card debt more than $1,150 incurred within 60 days of filing for luxury goods or services
- Debts incurred fraudulently, such as by providing false information in the application
- Debts incurred from the willful destruction of property
It should be noted also that lenders that hold a lien on your home or vehicle retains the right to take possession of these properties, even if they fall under state or federal exemptions. If the lender does repossess the property, you are still entitled to the amount of your equity. For example, if you had a car worth $5,000, but you still owe $3,000 on it, then your equity is $2,000. The lender can get the property back and sell it, but will have to give you back your equity. You can also choose to continue paying for these secured debts in order to keep your property. However, if the exempt property was used to secure a loan, but the loan was not for its purchase, then the debt may be discharged.
There are many issues that will come up in Chapter 7 that can be confusing and scary to a lay person. It is advisable to retain the services of a competent bankruptcy lawyer in your state for the best results.
When you choose a house to rent or buy, you think about how many people are going to live in it to determine what size you need. Typically, you look at how many bedrooms and bathrooms because that is where you will be spending most of your time at home. The same is true for storage units. You have to know what you are going to put in it before you choose the size you need.
As a rule of thumb, here are estimates on what you can put in standard sized units:
5 ft x 5 ft – Smallest Unit
This is about the size of a rather large hall closet. You can put in quite a few boxes plus small furniture you don’t use like a telephone table or a chest of drawers. You can probably fit in a two-seater couch but only if it less than 5 feet in length. If you are merely storing stuff your kids’ grew out of, this should be fine.
5 ft x 10 ft – Walk-in Closet
This is longer than it is deep, so you can put your regular-sized couch and chair or a dining set, plus a host of smaller boxes and items. This is actually quite a large space if you plan it right, enough to store most of what is in the typical living and dining room.
10 ft x 10 ft – One Bedroom Apartment
If you feel like keeping the stuff from your starter home but don’t have space for it in your new house, or just want it out of the way as you move in, this will do nicely. It will fit the contents of a standard one-bedroom apartment complete with refrigerator and washer-dryer.
10 ft x 15 ft – Two Bedroom Apartment
This is probably bigger than most apartments in the city! This will fit the contents of a standard two-bedroom apartment but probably not all major appliances. Again, it is all in the planning.
10 ft x 20 ft – largest unit
This is big enough to hold an RV, so if your stuff won’t all fit in it, then you really may have too much stuff!
Regardless of whether you just want their advice on how to properly negotiate a settlement on your own, or take over an already ongoing personal injury claim, or hire a lawyer to full handle your claim, finding the right type of personal injury lawyer plays a vital role in either having your claim denied on awarded. There are some factors you should look into when finding the right lawyer, such as one that is highly experienced and have knowledge about state laws as well as someone with whom you are comfortable working with.
Talking with your friends and acquaintances can help you find a lawyer who can represent your case. Ask them about their own personal injury claims and get their opinion on the lawyer. Put the lawyer on the list of those who would have to schedule an interview, but make sure to get other people’s opinion about the lawyer. Don’t base your decision on one friends’ opinion only; talk with several people and meet with the lawyer to determine whether you are comfortable working with them and if they are willing to devote their energy and time for your case.
If you already have a lawyer, you should immediately talk to them first, especially if they have already represented you in court before. They may be effective in their job, but make sure that they know and fully understand how personal injury claims work. Because tort laws are specifically different from other law practices, it is important to have a lawyer who actually practices and specializes in it in order to have a stronger defense. If you current lawyer does not cover personal injury claims, you can ask him for referrals. Lawyers often refer each other cases, and you can be sure that you will be in good hands because they already are trusted by your lawyer. One last option is going through lawyer directories. These are lists of lawyers advertising their services, and they can be found online.