Alex R. Hernandez Jr. - December 2019

Car accidents are stressful, to say the least; even simple fender benders can leave you angry and frustrated. But, regardless of who you believe was at fault for the collision, it’s important you remain calm and avoid pointing fingers. The way you conduct yourself after an accident can have a big impact on your future. The Don’t Let a Hot Head Jeopardize Your Claim for Damages Control Anger After an Accident

THE VALUE OF REMAINING CALM

You need to think clearly after an accident. The last thing you want to do is yell at the other driver — after all, you need their insurance and contact information. You’ll also want to talk to witnesses and call the police to get a detailed report of the accident. If you let anger and frustration win out, you might even cross a line and wind up being charged with assault.

There’s nothing quite like the magic of twinkling Christmas lights. But for city officials in Plantation, Florida, Christmas lights are a stark reminder of a prolonged fight, nearly $500,000 in court fees, and continued drama. In 2014, Plantation sued residents Mark and Kathy Hyatt for their “Hyatt Extreme Christmas” lights display, claiming it was a “public nuisance.” Each year, the Hyatts decorated their yard with more than 200,000 lights, snow, a Christmas tree, a Nativity scene, a functioning Ferris wheel, and more. Their creation was featured on two nationally televised programs and attracted flocks of visitors. But, for the Hyatt’s neighbors, extreme didn’t even begin to explain the chaos. Neighbors complained to the city about increased traffic, litter in their yards, and potential injury or death to pedestrians due to the traffic. Police officers in Plantation were dispatched to the light display multiple times each season for complaints by neighbors, accidents, and traffic control. After a two-year battle in court, a judge ruled in favor of the Hyatts, claiming the city could not prove the display was dangerous or a nuisance. The city had spent nearly half a million dollars fighting their case. For the Hyatts, Christmas 2016 was a celebration, though their display was restrained due to the timing of the court’s decision. By 2017, “Hyatt Extreme Christmas” was in full swing again, much to their neighbors’ chagrin. Mark Hyatt rode the wave of support for his display all the way to a vacant seat on the Plantation City Council in 2016, but the highs would soon stop there. Plantation news outlets reported in 2018 that Mark Hyatt filed for divorce, effectively ending any hope of another “Hyatt Extreme Christmas.” As the snow has settled, an extravagant lights display has instead become a story of nasty court battles with a sad ending for the Hyatts and their “extreme” Christmas devotees. LIGHTS OUT Florida City Sues Family Over Extreme Christmas Display

NO EASY TASK

We know it’s one thing for us to say “control your emotions after an accident” and another thing to actually do it. The jolt of the actual crash can trigger your flight-or-fight response, making you more prone to erratic behavior and anger. But still, we urge you to take a deep breath in this situation — remind yourself that your conduct could hurt your chances of receiving compensation or even land you in legal trouble.

Not many people take shoplifting seriously, but rest assured, retailers and prosecutors alike treat this crime for what it is: theft. This is especially true over the holiday season as stores try to boost their year-end profits and shoplifting rates rise. Here’s what more people need to understand about this serious charge. The Law Takes Shoplifting Seriously You Should,Too

MORE THAN A SLAP ON THE WRIST

You might think that getting caught shoplifting an inexpensive item isn’t that big of a deal. Maybe a security guard will yell at you, and you’ll be banned from the premises, right? Well, that’s the absolute best-case scenario. In Texas, stealing something worth $50 or less can still land you with a $500 fine. If you’ve stolen more than $50 worth of merchandise, you could be facing jail time.

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES

A shoplifting charge can land you in more than just prison. A conviction will be noted on your criminal record, which shows up on background checks used by employers, colleges, and other institutions. This makes finding a job, getting an education, or even applying for a loan difficult. Many adults are haunted by shoplifting convictions that happened when they were impressionable teens.

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