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Chapmanville Legal Blog

Anti-crime apps may encourage distrust, racial stereotypes

Despite the fact that crime statistics show a dramatic drop in violent crimes over the past 25 years, many people in West Virginia feel more unsafe than ever before. There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon, including extensive up-to-the-minute social media posts about nationwide criminal activity or sensationalized media coverage. In addition, sometimes the steps that people take in order to feel safer may actually encourage unfounded and unnecessary fears. For example, a number of smartphone apps present themselves as crime-fighting tools that people can use to be more aware of their neighborhoods and potential threats.

However, apps like Citizen, Nextdoor and Ring have come in for criticism. Many say that these types of programs encourage people to believe that they live in an unsafe world, encouraging unfounded fears. In addition, people may be less able to distinguish actual threats of violent crime from innocuous activity. Critics also say that these apps can promote racial stereotyping and beliefs about who "belongs" in a particular neighborhood or community. As a result, it may put residents of color at risk of unnecessary involvement with the criminal justice system.

How a West Virginia resident may be able to prove negligence

Like the rest of the United States, West Virginia sees many car accidents every year, in part because the state is prone to inclement weather such as blizzards and freezing rain. However, negligent driving is another leading cause of car crashes. West Virginia residents who have suffered a personal injury as a result of another driver's negligence may want to take the issue to court, but proving negligence can be a complicated issue. First, it must be proven that the driver failed to exercise reasonable care.

Failure to exercise reasonable care is easiest to prove when there is dashcam footage available. Dashcam footage that shows a driver swerving in and out of their lane or following another vehicle too closely can go a long way toward proving that they were driving negligently. A driver might even be found negligent because they only had one hand on the steering wheel.

What to do within 15 minutes of a car accident

There are probably a thousand thoughts going through someone’s mind right after a car accident. It may be difficult to gather yourself and make rational, intelligent decisions.

However, the first five to 15 minutes following an accident are important. There are a few crucial steps you should take right after a crash to ensure safety and your insurance claim.

Financial inequalities can contribute to divorce

For people in West Virginia who decide to divorce, financial issues and disagreements may be some of the most common factors that lead to the end of a marriage. Disagreements about how to save or spend money or how to plan for the future may lead to long-term rifts, especially when one partner sees the other as controlling or irresponsible. These problems can be magnified when one spouse brings in a significantly higher share of the income as this can exacerbate feelings of inequality. At times, the higher-earning partner may also be more likely to neglect or exclude the input of the lower-earning partner.

These already tense financial issues may be exacerbated by social expectations about sex, gender and earning power. While women have made great strides in the workplace in recent decades, many still expect that husbands will continue to be the higher earner in relationships. This could play a role in undermining some relationships. One study indicates that couples where the wife earns more than the husband are 33% more likely to divorce.

Study finds light rain increases fatal crash risk

West Virginia drivers might want to use extra caution when traveling on rain-slicked roads. According to a new study, even light rain can significantly increase the danger of a fatal car accident.

To calculate the risk of a fatal car accident in wet weather, researchers at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies analyzed data from over 125,000 deadly crashes that occurred between 2006 and 2011. They found that rain, snow and ice spiked the chances of a car wreck by 34%. In addition, they discovered that even light drizzle increased the risk of a fatal accident by 27%.

Steps to take following a divorce

Many people who have gone through a divorce in West Virginia feel a sense of relief once they have the divorce decree in their hands. They are ready to start their new lives. There are certain steps a person needs to take in order to ensure that his or her life really can start fresh.

The first thing someone who took his or her ex-spouse's name when he or she got married should do is change his or her legal name. This will require making phone calls, filling out paperwork and taking other necessary steps in order to change his or her name on his or her driver's license, bank accounts, Social Security card, passport and any other place where his or her married name was used.

2019 inspection blitz scheduled from June 4 to June 6

People in West Virginia might be interested in learning about the upcoming three-day inspection blitz for commercial truck and bus drivers. The annual event is scheduled to take place from June 4 to June 6. During that time period, truck drivers and bus drivers will go undergo stepped-up inspections to ensure that they are in compliance, and their vehicles are properly maintained.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducts the international annual event, and the focus of the blitz is to ensure that trucks and drivers that are traveling the nation's highways are complying with the regulations and laws that are in place. This year, the CVSA states that the main focus will be on steering and suspension systems, which are crucial when it comes to drivers being able to steer their vehicles as well as support heavy loads.

Survey into family member incarceration shocks researchers

Mass incarceration has become a hot-button political issue in West Virginia and around the country in recent years. Research into the consequences of placing millions of Americans behind bars makes for sobering reading, but the results of a study conducted by researchers from Cornell University have shocked even experts in the area. The Family History of Incarceration Survey was based on data gathered from 4,041 people by the University of Chicago, and it suggests that 45 percent of Americans have an incarcerated or formerly incarcerated child, spouse, sibling, parent or grandparent.

The Cornell researchers say that the figure, which is about twice as high as they expected, is the first accurate representation of family member incarceration in the United States. While the incarceration of a close family member was especially high among African-Americans, it was also quite common among Hispanics and whites. Siblings are the most likely family member to be in prison, according to the study.

Distracted driving fatality rates differ with cellphone laws

ValuePenguin has ranked the states based on their distracted driving fatality rate, finding that the laxity or strictness of each state's cellphone laws did much to influence the rates. West Virginia had one of the lower ones, ranking 43rd with .51 fatalities per 10 billion miles traveled between 2015 and 2017.

The national average was 1.49 fatalities per 10 billion miles traveled. Tennessee had a rate that was five times higher than the national average: 7.2 fatalities per 10 billion miles. It was followed by Delaware (3.28), Wyoming (3.22), Texas (3) and Montana (2.91). In all, there were more than 1,400 fatalities from 2015 to 2017 in accidents that involved at least one driver using a cellphone.

Personal injury considerations following a motor vehicle accident

Persons in Logan County and across West Virginia are injured in motor vehicle accidents every day. Thankfully, some of those mishaps yield minor consequences. Tragically, though, others are direct catalysts causing catastrophic injuries. In some sad cases, fatalities result.

A telling and unfortunate point concerning legions of crashes that victimize drivers and their passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians is this: They flatly wouldn’t have occurred absent third-party negligence.

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