Smart Traveler: 5 Legal Missteps To Avoid While Abroad

Local laws can vary substantially from town to town, and you may be surprised to learn that simply crossing into a suburb or into a different county can dramatically affect what you can lawfully do. The laws can vary even more substantially when you cross state lines or venture into a different country. If you are preparing to travel, it is wise to conduct online research about local laws before you depart on your trip. Doing so may prevent you from getting into trouble with the law and can make your trip more enjoyable.

Understand the Local Alcohol Limits

Most areas have laws regarding the blood alcohol level limit that is legal while operating a car, and some also have public intoxication laws. If you plan to drink while traveling, it is important to pay close attention to these laws. Remember that you can also use ridesharing or a taxi to get back to your hotel if you have been drinking. Because you do not want to take chances, a good rule of thumb is to avoid getting behind the wheel at all if you have been drinking. Remember that some areas may have mandatory blood testing that you cannot opt out of. If you’re especially worried, search out a professional in the area who can tell you more. Search google for “dwi laws Texas” or “dwi lawyer Austin” to find the information you need to be responsible.

Focus on Cell Phone Use Laws While Driving

Talking on your cell phone while driving is against the law in many areas, and some areas also have a hands-free law. This type of law prevents you from texting while driving or even from using your cell phone as a map if you are holding it. You can, however, mount your phone or use Bluetooth features in many areas. Review and understand these rules if you plan to rent a car while you are traveling.

Ensure Your Prescription Medications Are Legal

Some prescription medications may be legal in one state, but they may not be legal in another area. In fact, you may get fined or go to jail if you have drugs in your possession that are not legal in that state even if they have been prescribed by a doctor. The laws can be even more significantly different when you enter another country. If you plan to travel to an area where your medication is not permitted, talk to your doctor about getting on an alternative medication while you are away.

Think About Photography Rules

In most areas of the United States, it is legal to take photos or videos of most things that you see as you cruise down the road. There may be some limitations in museums, special events and more. When you travel abroad, there may be even more limitations that you need to be aware of. For example, you may not be able to take photos of religious sites in some countries.

Learn the Rules of the Road

It is common for travelers to rent a car to get around town while far from home. Seatbelt laws are common almost everywhere, but some road and driving laws vary substantially. For example, speed limits, the use of turn signals and even honking your horn may have various rules and regulations that you need to be aware of when traveling far from home. Learning local driving rules and regulations can keep you safe and can help you to avoid legal issues.

Getting fined or thrown in jail while traveling is a surefire way to ruin your trip. Regardless of how near or far from home you plan to travel, it is important that you understand local laws before you arrive. Get in the habit of researching local laws as well as customs before you leave for a trip. This practice can make your future trips more enjoyable and less stressful.

This article is from Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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How to Divide Your Estate and Keep Everyone Happy

Estate planning can be extremely complicated. You must consider the value of your property, the cost of final expenses, any business ties, and much more. There are also the obvious emotional factors. The people closest to you will have certain expectations. In a nutshell, you have the huge responsibility of ensuring that your valuables are not wasted, while taking care of the loved ones you will be leaving behind. Fortunately, this is not an impossible task. Here are a couple of ways to handle this situation with minimal frustration.

Consider the Needs of Beneficiaries

When most people think of handling their property or estate, it is to care for the ones you love. A logical and efficient way to divide your property is to consider the needs of your family members. Maybe you have an adult child who is in desperate need of better housing or a grandchild who needs reliable transportation to and from school.

This strategy is more practical than attempting to give everyone what they want, especially since multiple family members might want the same thing. It is also good for avoiding disagreements. People often become adamant about what they believe they deserve, but not so much when this is in direct conflict with what someone else truly needs.

Honest Communication

People generally are not told what part of the estate they will receive until after the owner has passed away. This is so deceased never has to experience any confrontations or arguments about their decision. Unfortunately, we know that this does not stop the surviving family members from tearing each other apart after the fact. It’s even been known to cause irreparable damage to family relationships at times.

If you have the chance, sit down with those important to you and explain the reasons behind your choices. Give them an opportunity to share their feelings and opinions. It may not be the most pleasant conversation, but at least they can appreciate your honesty and willingness to communicate.

One of the most difficult things to do is determining what happens to your estate after you pass. Someone may be disappointed no matter what you decide, but if you do nothing, your property will be distributed according to the laws of your state, which would be much worse. Seek help from a lawyer experienced with wills and estate planning and follow the tips above. You’ll be sure to find the best solutions that not only adhere to your final wishes but also keep your family happy as well.

Claire Stewart is a freelance writer and blogger focused on writing about health, travel, and business among other topics. She graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelors in Women’s Studies and currently lives in Seattle with her goldfish, Merlin.

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Dementia Care From Multiple Health Systems May Pose Drug Safety Risks


Reuters reports that, according to a study of US veterans in the Annals of Internal Medicine, “dementia patients who get prescriptions from multiple health systems may face a higher risk of drug mix-ups or unsafe interactions than people with cognitive problems who get all their medications from one place.” Reuters explains that “researchers examined data on more than 75,000 veterans with dementia and found that among patients who received all of their care at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, 39 percent had potential safety issues with prescribed medications.” Meanwhile, “among those who got some care at the VA and some treatment elsewhere…59 percent had possible drug safety issues.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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What It Takes to Thrive: How Lawyers Can Better Market Their Services

Marketing and advertising legal services can be a big drain on expenses, particularly if you operate independently or from a small firm. What you need to develop is a marketing plan that focuses on who you are and what you do well. You don’t have to be funny or create drama. Those aren’t necessarily good qualities in an attorney. Like any business, what you need to do is build recognition and trust.

Use Social Ads

Facebook had 1.94 billion users this year. It and other social platforms offer advertising feeds as a cost-effective way to reach large audiences. These ads can target the demographics that align with your client profiles. You can design different ads for different prospects or to take advantage of hot topics or headlines, and know that they’ll reach the right audience. The best part is that this is usually done on a pay-per-click basis, which means you pay much less for ads that aren’t working, while those that make an impact have the potential to get shared and go viral.

Stage Online Events

Creating and promoting online events such as webinars or Q&A forums is an affordable way to build up your name and reputation. You could explain the legal terms and requirements in cases specific to your field. Whether it’s probate or personal injury, there’s an audience needing advice. Encourage people to RSVP with their email address, and be sure to provide your phone number and email for follow-ups.

Make Videos

As an alternative, one approach might be to make videos of your seminars and create your own YouTube channel to show them on. Be sure to keep videos entertaining but professional. Try to address specific topics and keep the length at about six minutes or less, as many viewers will be impatient. But your channel can be a constant resource for people with legal questions that increases your visibility.

Go After Referrals

You have to pursue referrals and not simply hope to get them from past clients. Be sure to leave them your contact info and encourage them to mention you to their associates. Make certain they understand the kind of legal work you do. If you’ve had trouble getting referrals, consider taking the time for a marketing retreat, such as those that The Rainmaker Institute puts on, designed specifically for today’s law firms.

Take the time to write down your business goals for your legal practice. If you don’t know exactly what it takes to achieve them, find some marketing guidance.

Author Info: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can find her on Twitter.

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Few People Know About Overlapping Surgery


Reuters recently published a somewhat frightening article about doctors trying to do multiple surgeries at the same time. That may be taking multitasking a bit too far. Here are the opening paragraphs of the article:

Most people aren’t aware that surgeons are sometimes involved in multiple operations happening at the same time, and many patients might object to the practice if they knew about it, a recent U.S. study suggests. 

Researchers focused on what’s known as overlapping surgery, when a senior surgeon performs critical components of one operation at the same that a trainee surgeon or physician assistant handles a non-critical portion of another procedure. For example, it might mean the assistant closes up an incision on one patient while a senior surgeon begins an operation on another patient.

Only about 4 percent of the 1,454 people surveyed for the study had heard of overlapping surgery, the study found. Just 31 percent of them strongly supported the practice once it was explained, and nearly all of the participants thought patients should be told before surgery exactly what aspects of their operations might be handled by a senior surgeon or by a trainee, or resident, surgeon or an assistant.

“Surgeons should discuss overlapping surgery with patients beforehand and obtain their consent if this is part of their practice,” said lead study author Dr. Michael Kent of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Generally, people understand the pros and cons of the practice once they know what it is, Kent added by email.

“Respondents understood that overlapping surgery allows surgeons to potentially perform more operations in a given day, so patients may not need to wait as long for their procedure,” Kent said. “They also understand that complications may occur when a surgeon’s attention is divided, and this may have an impact on patient safety.”

For the study, Kent and colleagues surveyed participants about their knowledge of overlapping surgery, their expectations regarding disclosure during the informed consent process and their willingness to have this type of surgery as a patient.



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Test Shows Subway’s Poultry Contains About 50 Percent Chicken DNA

Fox News  reports a study conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation found Subway’s chicken meat contains only about 50 percent chicken DNA. The findings were part of a larger CBC survey examining chicken from several fast food outlets. Meat tested from Subway’s competitors contained about 85 to 90 percent chicken DNA, “but Subway’s oven roasted chicken registered at just 53.6 percent. Its chicken strips scored even lower, containing just 42.8 percent chicken DNA.” Trent University’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory concluded Subway “bolsters its chicken products with soy filters.”

The New York Daily News  reports the overall testing discovered that fast food chicken “in general had nearly a quarter less protein than you’d find in home-cooked chicken.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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FDA Warns Pfizer About Contaminated Drugs at Hospira Plant

Bloomberg News  reports that Pfizer received a warning letter from the FDA “after inspectors found ‘significant violations’ at a manufacturing plant for drugs made by its Hospira unit.” According to a letter released by the FDA, “the inspection, conducted over about three weeks in May and June last year at a McPherson, Kansas, drug plant, found ‘significant violations of current good manufacturing practice’ rules.” Bloomberg says “Pfizer acquired the plant with its about $17 billion takeover of Hospira in 2015.” According to the letter, “at the plant, inspectors observed practices that could have contaminated sterile products, [and] said Pfizer failed to respond appropriately after drugs were found to be contaminated with cardboard and other particles.” Meanwhile, “they also found conditions that show ‘significant loss of control in your manufacturing process and represents a severe risk of harm to patients.’”

Reuters  reports that Pfizer said in a statement it has been “diligently implementing commitments made to the FDA” to ensure the agency’s concerns are addressed. Pfizer also said the issues cited in the letter “do not have any impact on products that are currently on the market that were manufactured at the McPherson site.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Pacemakers May Fail to Properly Regulate Heartbeats Near Certain Appliances or Tools

Reuters reports that research indicates that “pacemakers may fail to properly regulate patients’ heartbeats near certain appliances and tools that generate electric and magnetic fields.” The findings were published in Circulation. MedPage Today also covers the story.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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FDA Needs to Reform Approval Process for Rare Disease Drugs


Kenneth Thorpe, Chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Policy in HHS, wrote in The Hill’s “Pundits” blog that “no one would argue that the FDA needs to be thorough in ensuring that drugs are both safe and effective before they become available to patients.” With that in mind, Thorpe believes it is “important to realize that illnesses for which there are no available treatments can simply not be viewed through the same prism as those diseases that have experienced more successful drug development.” Because of the difficulty populating clinical trials for rare diseases, “decisions must reflect the different scope of the playing field.” For some rare disease treatments, the “question becomes, is the affected patient population willing to assume this risk in order to have swift access to a potentially effective therapy?” Thrope concludes, “Americans afflicted with rare diseases shouldn’t face more daunting disadvantages simply because of their limited population size. Nor should they be subjected to a public airing of differences months after approval.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Maker of Opioid Addiction Treatment Sued by 36 States for Anticompetitive Conduct


Bloomberg News reports that UK pharmaceutical company Indivior Plc, the maker of opioid addiction treatment Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone), has been sued by 36 states alleging that it unlawfully denied consumers the option of a generic version of the drug. The lawsuit accuses Indivior of a “range of anticompetitive conduct” to prevent generic competition and keep prices high.

Reuters reports that the lawsuit also accuses MonoSol of conspiring with Indivior to block generic versions of the drug, even after its patent protection expired in 2009.

Also covering this story are the APAlbany (NY) Times UnionBaltimore SunModern Healthcare, and POLITICO New York.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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