Virginia Boating Safety: New Required Operator Licenses and Education

Summary by: Robert L. Mertig

As summer approaches, it's important to be aware of recent changes in the boating laws in Virginia pertaining to the operation of personal water craft (PWC) such as Jet Skis and motorboats. These changes include a schedule of required licenses and boating safety instruction that begin to take effect this summer. Over the next few years, eventually all users of PWC will be required to have licenses and take courses to obtain these licenses.

By July 1, 2009, all operators younger than 21 and are operating a PWC of 10 horsepower or more will be required to have a license. If you have a PWC like this and are in this age group, you should sign up now for a class, so you get your license…

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Patient Tests Positive and Thousands Told To Get Tested After Exposure to Unsterilized Equipment at VA Hospitals

According to the Associated Press, The Veterans Affairs Department is investigating a possible link between patients testing positive for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C and the use of unsterilized equipment that may have caused thousands of veterans to be exposed to infectious diseases.

Initial tests show patients from VA medical facilities in Murfreeboro, Tennessee; Augusta, Georgia; and Miami, Florida have tested positive for HIV after being treated with endoscopic equipment that was not properly sterilized. The three sites all used endoscopic equipment manufactured by Olympus America, Inc. The problem may stem from neglecting to appropriately reprocess a specific auxiliary water tube, thus putting patients at risk…

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Defamation Liability and the case of Vicki Iseman v. The New York Times - A Recap

Author: Attorney W. Coleman Allen, Jr.

The tort of defamation occurs when an individual, corporation or media outlet negligently publishes a false statement concerning a private individual, or in the case of a public figure, publishes a false statement with malice. The higher standard that must be met with regard to a public figure reflects the court's efforts to balance the privacy rights of individuals with the First Amendment values that favor the free flow of information and robust debate of issues of public importance. In the case of Vicki Iseman v. The New York Times newspaper, the issue of whether or not the plaintiff Vicki Iseman was a public figure was central to the litigation.

The case was settled without…

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Stay Safe When You Run - Jogger Safety Tips

Author: Attorney Elizabeth M. Allen

The weather is warming up and more of us are taking to the streets to get some exercise. Jogging and running are great workouts, but it is important to remember that as a pedestrian, you bear primary responsibility for your own safety. It's important to stay aware and alert to hazards when you go for a jog.

Pay attention and keep your mind on the most important thing you're doing: sharing the roadway or sidewalk with other people, vehicles, or animals. This advice may sound simple enough. Yet, how often do you see runners and joggers traveling along the roads listening to ipods and radios, or talking on cell phones? It's true that these activities may make the run less solitary…

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The Recorded Statement: A Trap for the Unwary


Author: Attorney Elizabeth Morrell Allen

You've been in an auto accident that wasn't your fault. One day shortly thereafter, an adjuster for the insurance company of the person who hit you calls on the telephone and wants you to give a recorded statement telling her how the accident happened and provide her with some personal information. She says she wants to help you, and you certainly need help. She says that all she needs before she can pay you is a brief statement to "firm up liability". She's pleasant and seems so nice. Besides, you have nothing to hide because the crash wasn’t your fault. What could be wrong with answering her questions on tape? Plenty!

As a general rule, you should not…

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Discover Petersburg, a Historic City in Southside Virginia

Author: Attorney Elizabeth Morrell Allen

Conveniently located at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 85 and Virginia Route 460, the City of Petersburg overlooks the falls of the Appomattox River just 25 miles south of Richmond, Virginia. Petersburg is an old city. Its origins date from the establishment of Bristol Parish in 1643 and Fort Henry in 1645-1646. The town itself was established in 1748. Before the Civil War, Petersburg was one of the largest cities in the South and derived much of its wealth from the tobacco trade.

Today, Petersburg beckons travelers headed south to the Sunbelt or north to the busy Northeast Corridor. It attracts local Virginians who want to learn more about their state's rich and…

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Securing Witness Information After an Accident

Author: Chris Cloude

You are driving to the grocery store taking your time and following your normal route. As you approach an intersection, the stoplight is green and you proceed into the intersection. Out of the corner of your eye you see a flash, and your car is hit on the passenger side.

A few days later, an adjuster calls you from the insurance company for the person that hit you. The adjuster informs you that the insurance company is denying your claim from your auto accident because their insured says they had the green light, not you.

This story is one we hear almost every day. Without other witnesses, often there is not much that can be done to make a recovery. If the insurance company won't discuss…

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Water Craft and Boating Safety

Author: Attorney Paul D. Hux

Warm weather is coming, and that means people will be enjoying the outdoors and water sports. We need to be careful when being around the water. One minute it can be beautiful and fun and the next it can turn into a life threatening accident.

If you use a Jetski or other personal water craft (PWC), you should be aware of the dangers and how to keep yourself and others safe. Statistics show that there are currently over 1.48 million PWCs in use with annual riders each year totaling over 20 million Americans. A PWC is a boat just like any other motorized vessel and must obey the navigational rules.

The vast majority of operators do not possess their own PWC, and are either using…

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Damages Cap Now on Tap - A VA Lawyers Weekly Article

Article Summary by Attorney Malcolm P. McConnell

In Virginia, there is no justice for catastrophically injured victims of medical malpractice. Since 1976, their inalienable rights as American citizens to trial by jury and to equal justice under the law have been stripped from them for no better reason than to keep insurance companies profitable. Meanwhile, insurance companies charge higher and higher premiums to doctors, blaming victims' lawyers and American citizens who sit on juries, hear evidence, and make careful decisions.

Virginia's "cap" on the amount of money a victim of medical malpractice can recover in a lawsuit guarantees that the most horribly injured victims will never be able to pay their bills.…

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How Much Auto Insurance Should You Buy?

Author: Elizabeth Morrell Allen

How much automobile insurance should you buy? The answer is easy: As much as you can afford.

The primary reason to buy automobile insurance, both liability and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, is to protect you and your assets. Your insurance company will almost never pay more in damages, to you or to a person you negligently injure, than the dollar amount of the coverage you paid for, no matter how high a verdict there may be either against you or for you. Sound complicated? I'll illustrate with two hypothetical examples, one involving liability insurance coverage and one involving underinsured motorist coverage.

Liability Coverage Example Suppose…

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