Smithville Legal Blog

When does a start-up require a patent?

Texas is one of the best states in the country to launch a business start-up. According to the Hays Free Press, Texas became the best state to start a business for the second year in a row in 2019. The steady growth found in the Austin and Hays County metropolitan areas contributes greatly to this standing, and the state will see plenty more businesses launch in the years to come. 

It is vital for start-up businesses to begin on the right footing. A start-up needs the proper legal protections so that it can carve out its own corner in the marketplace. It may not be necessary for all start-ups to have patents, but it is critical to know when you do need one so that you can protect your intellectual property. 

How to avoid distracted driving

Drivers in Texas have a host of distractions that they must guard against. Those who fail to properly deal with diversions run the risk of getting into car accidents. Distracted driving-related crashes took the lives of 3,166 people in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Common distractions range from phone use to simple actions like eating or talking with passengers.

To avoid distractions, drivers should try to keep away from their phones. It's best to only make emergency calls after safely pulling over. Even hands-free devices will take one's attention from the road. Drivers should not eat behind the wheel, nor should they allow passengers to do so because food and drink spills can sidetrack drivers.

How fines create a cycle of debt and jail

Some people in Texas who commit relatively minor violations, such as driving on a suspended license, can find themselves caught in a legal system where they're further penalized for being unable to pay fines. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that it's illegal to put people in jail who are too poor to pay fines, many debt-ridden offenders feel like they are in a kind of prison.

This was the case for one man in Tennessee who was prohibited from driving until the age of 21 because of skipping school as a teenager. When he drove anyway, he got two tickets and accumulated around $1,000 of debt for unpaid fines and fees. He went to jail due to his inability to pay, and while on probation, had to pay an additional fee. The man then quit driving to avoid further legal and financial problems, but this had profound consequences on his ability to find work and housing and to see his children.

Some cities are safer than others for drivers

In 2017, roughly 6,452,000 drivers throughout America were involved in automobile accidents. Generally speaking, accidents are more likely to occur in large cities where there is more traffic on roads and highways. According to the 2019 America's Safe Drivers Report, Brownsville, Texas is the safest city to drive in. An individual in that city can go up to 15 years without getting into a wreck. Baltimore was the city where a person was most likely to encounter unsafe driving.

Those who drive on Highway 695 were the most likely to get into an accident while driving there. Other cities on the list of most dangerous places to drive include Washington D.C., Boston and Los Angeles. Highway 295 was the riskiest road in Washington D.C while Route 93 took that honor in Boston. In Los Angeles, motorists were at a higher risk of a crash while on the 405 Freeway.

Estate planning, spouses and passwords

Women in Texas should know that being able to access important estate and financial information after the death of their spouse has always been a serious issue. This is because statistics show that women have a higher likelihood than men of being widowed or having a spouse with a grave medical condition. The issue has become more pronounced since the spread of digitization. Due to digital passwords and records, fewer paper records are available that can be used to help locate unknown accounts.

Another factor that complicates the issue is that women, no matter their age, tend to allow their spouse to overtake the responsibilities for handling important estate and financial matters. While younger women are more aware of the family's financial situation than women of older generations, they may still opt to not become involved.

How to talk to your doctor about your car crash

Automobile crashes on Texas’s many roadways are not exactly rare. In fact, in 2017, roughly 17,500 individuals sustained a serious injury in a car crash in the Lone Star State. There were also more than 3,700 traffic fatalities that year. 

Even though a car crash occurs in Texas about every minute, you may never find yourself in the middle of one. If you do, though, you must work diligently to pursue compensation from the driver(s) who caused the collision. You must also focus on recovering from your injuries. Here are five tips for talking to your doctor about your car crash: 

What to consider when choosing a guardian for a minor

Individuals who have young children will ideally choose a guardian for their kids as part of their estate plan. Failing to do so likely means that the courts decide who will raise the children and manage any assets that they received. Furthermore, the confusion caused by not naming a guardian could lead to strained relationships between family members and make it harder for the children to adjust to their new situation.

It is possible for parents to choose a guardian to raise the children and a guardian to manage their assets. In lieu of a guardian of the estate, a trust can be created that will hold money and other items for the kids. It will be managed by a person chosen by the child's parents, and the trustee will act in accordance with whatever instructions are included in the document. The person who is chosen to manage a child's money should be financially literate and someone who is able to stand up to the child.

How negligence is proved in car accident lawsuits

When car accident victims in Texas and around the country take legal action to hold the drivers who injured them financially responsible, the lawsuits involved are usually based on the tort of negligence. In order to prevail in court, they must be able to establish that the defendant owed them a duty of care, failed to meet that duty and they suffered injury, loss or damage as a direct result.

Drivers are expected to do all that they reasonably can to protect the safety of all road users, so establishing that a duty of care existed is rarely a challenge in auto accident lawsuits. Proving that motorists failed to meet this duty may also be straightforward if they violated the law in some way, such as by speeding or drinking before getting behind the wheel. This is why personal injury attorneys may study police reports closely when representing car accident victims.

Speeding the focus of the next CSVA event

Drivers on Texas roads and others should be ready for increased enforcement of speeding laws during the next Operation Safe Driver Week. The event will take place in July 2019, and it is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. According to the president of the CSVA, speeding has accounted for roughly one out of three traffic fatalities over the past several decades. Furthermore, it was a factor in 94% of crashes in 2015.

That was according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA also noted that speeding accounted for 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2017. Drivers who are caught speeding may be issued a citation in an effort to change their behavior on the road. Research has shown that citations do have an impact on how drivers react behind the wheel.

How Americans can protect their digital assets

The average resident in Texas has thousands of dollars' worth of digital assets, and those assets are worth protecting. Many people with ordinary jobs don't think they have anything worth money in the digital sphere, but the reality is that even something as simple as a username and password can be considered a valuable asset. If a password, secret account number or other piece of important information got into the wrong hands, it could cause a major financial loss.

When someone passes away unexpectedly, digital assets can be easily lost. That's why it's important for people to create an estate plan that accounts for everything from social media account information to a list of usernames and passwords. This information should be kept in a secure place where family members or loved ones can find it when needed. This can be on an external hard drive or in some type of password management software. The information should always be up to date.

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