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Jackson Legal Issues Blog

The lesser-known effects of a car wreck

Many Mississippi drivers have lived the horrors of falling victim to a negligent driver. What once started as a normal day may have ended with a trip to the hospital -- a step that some are hardly prepared for. When another person was at fault for a wreck, not only does the victim deserve to be compensated for damages; he or she deserves justice after an otherwise traumatic experience. While the process of claiming damages is an obstacle on its own, countless victims must navigate through the long and arduous road of recovery. 

The phrase "personal injury" is most commonly used in connection with physical conditions, but an injury does not have to be visible to be valid. VeryWell Mind understands the importance of understanding potential mental problems that can ensue after a traumatic car wreck, stating that anyone who has been in an accident could be at risk for a post-traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, roughly 9 percent of all who are involved in such accidents develop PTSD. Because of these risks, it is crucial that victims of vehicle accidents are aware of possible warning signs:

  • Increased heart rate when thinking of the event
  • Feeling more jumpy or startled
  • Avoiding driving altogether

Clearing a conviction from your record

Having handled countless criminal defense cases in Hazlehurst, we here at the Shannon Law Firm, PLLC can attest to the fact that a criminal conviction (no matter the perceived severity of the offense) can have a dramatic impact on your life. Even after you have completed whatever punitive actions were associated with your conviction, you could still see it haunt you as you try to secure a job or find adequate housing. This prompts the question of whether or not the law provides a way to clear offenses from your record. 

Mississippi state law does indeed offer the option of expungement, but only in certain situations. According to Section 99-19-71 of the state's Code of Criminal Procedure, you may petition to have any misdemeanor conviction (that is not a traffic violation) removed from your record if you are a first-time offender. Expunging felony convictions can be a bit more difficult. Any felony conviction other than violent crimes or crimes involving the distribution of a controlled substance can be removed from your recorded if the offenses occurred before you turned 21 (and successfully completed all the terms of your sentence). The felonies for which you may have been convicted after turning 21 that are eligible for expungement include: 

  • Passing bad checks
  • Possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia 
  • Crimes involving false pretense 
  • Certain types of larceny 
  • Malicious mischief
  • Shoplifting

What is unfair competition in business?

For Mississippi residents hurt by deceptive or unfair trade practices, consumer protection laws are allowing them to seek remedies such as payment for damages and a halt to the action that caused injury. Unfair competition in the business world affects organizations by infringing on their work in some manner such as intellectual, creative and economic efforts.

This category is essentially made up of torts that negatively impact a business and its bottom line, according to Cornell Law School. The most common types of unfair competition can be sorted into two broad categories, one of the same name: unfair competition and unfair trade practices. Unfair competition describes actions intended to confuse or trick consumers about a product’s maker, which is also known as deceptive trade practices. Unfair trade practices are essentially all other types of unfair competition. Examples of these practices include:

  • Theft of trade secrets: Such as stealing software code or a salad dressing recipe from a competitor
  • Trademark infringement: Using another company’s trademark on another company’s product
  • False advertising: Making exaggerated or untrue claims about the benefits of a product
  • Substitution of one company’s brand for another: Advertising a product from a specific brand but using another brand’s product to fulfill orders
  • Trade libel: False claims, either written or spoken, about the poor quality of a company’s products or services

The continuing dangers of transvaginal mesh

If you are a Mississippi woman who underwent surgery any time in the past 25 years to correct a pelvic prolapse condition, your surgeon in all likelihood implanted transvaginal mesh into your body. Surgeons began using this strong webbed material back in the early 1990s since it holds up a woman’s pelvic organs better than her own tissues.

Unbeknownst to the surgeons at that time, transvaginal mesh was not the safe product its manufacturers claimed it to be. It took the Federal Drug Administration nearly 18 years to discover that TVM manufacturers had failed to do follow-up studies on the long-term safety of TVM before marketing it to doctors as a safe and reliable product.

What is dental malpractice?

If you have had a toothache, you know that it can be an extremely painful experience for any Mississippi resident. It may not be life-threatening like a stroke, or debilitating like a herniated disk, but constant pain in one of the most used areas of the body is something you cannot ignore either. While you might shop around for a second opinion when it comes to major surgery, most of us trust our dentists to do their job with no questions asked. Like medical doctors, however, dentists also make mistakes, including extracting the wrong teeth, fracturing a patient’s jaw and more. Oral surgery mishaps include puncturing a sinus cavity, severing nerves and failing to refer patients to a specialist. In some cases, these mistakes may be considered dental malpractice.

Prevention offers some red flags for dental patients to be aware of that can help you avoid putting yourself in the hands of a dentist who may not be qualified or one who suggests unnecessary procedures. Warning signs include:

  • Overseas labs: If you need bridges, dentures, implants or other orthodontic appliances, be sure to ask where the lab site is. If it is overseas, you should question the product’s quality.
  • Cancer screening: Your dentist should look for oral cancer signs at each visit. Oral cancer occurrences have tripled in the past 20 years with the increased risk of the HPV virus.
  • Outdated technology: X-ray film is behind the times. Along with offering less exposure to radiation, digital X-rays can pinpoint cavities that traditional X-rays may miss altogether.
  • Extra sales: If your dentist offers dermal fillers, vitamins and other supplements, he or she may be more interested in meeting sales quotas than fixing teeth.

Takata airbag recall tops 50 million

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the recall of Takata airbags affects 19 vehicle producers and 37 million cars and trucks. The airbags are in many well-known models made by Honda, Ford, Mazda, Acura, Nissan, Chrysler and many more. The NHTSA calls it the “largest and most complex” recall for safety in the history of the U.S.

Consumer Reports takes a look at the timeline of the problem and recall efforts, dating to Nov. 7, 2014. On that date, the New York Times ran a story citing Takata workers who said the company knew and covered up the dangerous defects in its product, beginning in the early 2000s.

Reviewing Mississippi's child support guidelines

A child support obligation may be viewed by many in Hazlehurst as a form of punishment imposed on a parent. Not only may his or her access to his or her children be limited, but he or she is then mandated to continue to pay the other parent for their support. According to information share by the U.S. Census Bureau, $33.7 billion in such support was due in 2015 alone. Yet many of those parents obligated to pay child support have no issue with supporting their kids; they simply want to ensure that whatever amount they required to meet is reasonable. 

It is for this reason that the state sets the guidelines for exactly how much is required in child support (as opposed to leaving that determination up to the parties involved in a divorce case). Its rules can be found in Section 43-19-101 of the Mississippi Public Welfare Code. The process of determining child support begins by reviewing the income of the absent parent (the parent obliged to pay child support). Salary, wages, self-employment income, commissions, unemployment or retirement benefits, and investment income are just a few of the revenue sources that go into coming up with this amount. After one's income is calculated, certain allowed deductions (e.g., Social Security and tax liabilities, support payments owed to others parties, contributions made to retirement accounts) are then subtracted from that figure to come up with one's adjusted gross income. 

Reviewing Mississippi's stance on non-compete agreements

Like many working professionals in Hazlehurst, you likely have ambitions to progress in your career. That progression might come from moving on to a more advanced position with another organization, or breaking away and starting your own business. Your employer may, however, view your growth as potentially coming at its expense. Such a scenario might prompt your boss to ask you to sign a non-compete agreement (either as an initial condition of your employment or when you are leaving). Many of those that we here at the Shannon Law Firm, PLLC have worked with in the past have agreed to such covenants, only to later find their terms to be extremely restrictive. 

This raises the question as to whether such agreements are generally enforceable. For the most part, the law does not want to see you be hindered in your efforts to achieve success. Many states have gone so far as to adopt statutes that automatically void non-compete clauses. Mississippi, however, is not one of them. 

When is the use of force justified?

Claims of self-defense made by those charged with violent crimes in Hazlehurst are often immediately met with skepticism. Yet like most, you can probably think of situations where you would justifiably act against another to defend yourself, those that you love, and/or your property. The question is does the law actually allow that? 

Mississippi has followed the example of many states in adopting its own "stand your ground" law. Section 97-3-15 of the state's Criminal Code says that you are under no obligation to retreat from a situation in which the use of force (even deadly force) may be required to defend yourself or others provided that the following conditions are met: 

  • You were not the initial aggressor of the altercation
  • You were not engaged in criminal activity at the time
  • You were in a place where you were legally allowed to be

Unsafe toys and products to avoid this summer

It can take quite a bit of effort to keep the kids busy during the summer months, but parents sure do try, using everything from water balloons and related firing contraptions to all-terrain vehicles and similar forms of recreation. Some toys and playthings kids use to pass time are not as safe as consumers may like to think, however, and in some cases, they can even prove deadly. In fact, USA Today reports that about 2.5 million kids seek treatment for injuries every summer, many of which stem from the use of unsafe toys and other sources of recreation.

Periodically, a watchdog organization that works to promote safety in the toy industry releases a list of what it considers the most dangerous toys, products and recreational activities posing a threat to today’s youngsters. Here are some highlights from this summer’s lineup of dangerous toys.