Friday Fun

How popular is your first name, and when was it most common? You can find out at Baby Chart.

Robert

7 Legal Issues to Consider When Throwing a Party at Your Home

7 Legal Issues you Need to Watch Out for While Throwing a Party at your Home

Legal issues are rarely considered in party planning, despite the many potential areas of liability. Knowing common pitfalls can help ensure all guests have fun, arrive home safely and avoid liability for the host.

Over-Serving Guests

Dram shop laws are designed to hold bars and restaurants accountable for over-serving guests. Some states apply the same type of liability to personal residences. This means that if someone is served alcohol at someone’s home and then drives and injures someone or personal property, the owner of the home may be held liable. If you’re throwing a party at your home, encourage your guests to drink responsibly and avoid driving, and monitor any guests who appear to have had too much to drink to help them find a safe way home. Firms like The Law Offices of Gregg Durlofsky can advise of dram shop laws specific to your jurisdiction.

Premises Liability

Homeowners and their insurance are responsible for known hazards on their property. In the event there is a condition in the area of the party that could be hazardous for guests, hosts should try to minimize exposure of guests to the area. For example, loose boards on a deck, exposed electrical wires or holes in the lawn should be repaired if possible or clearly marked so guests can safely avoid injury.

Pets

Similar to hazards that might be on the property, the interaction of guests with household pets should be planned in advance. Dogs and cats that are otherwise friendly may become overwhelmed by many guests. Not all guests may know how to properly interact with pets and agitate them. Particularly if a pet has a history of biting or injuring people, they should be kept away from party guests to avoid injury to guests and resulting liability.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are becoming more widely acknowledged and publicized. Common food allergies like peanuts should be considered in menu planning. If serving food with common allergens, make guests aware of the ingredients. Certainly, if a host is aware of a particular guest’s food allergy, they should make that guest aware of the ingredient so it can be avoided. Undisclosed allergens may cause injury or death to guests and be the base of legal action.

Noise Levels

Hosts should be mindful of noise levels to avoid unpleasant consequences. Many communities have regulations regarding outdoor music which may include hours of the day when it is prohibited. Neighbors may also involve authorities if noise rises to levels they find intrusive. Fines or other legal action could result from failure to be mindful and obey regulations. Hosts should consult a qualified attorney to discuss their state and local laws.

Trespassing

Similar to noise, make guests aware of areas that they should not enter, such as a neighbor’s yard or pool. A backyard party can lose fun quickly if the police arrive because guests are trespassing or otherwise mistreating a neighbor’s property.

Parking

Suggesting to guests where they can safely park is wise. Towed cars do not make for very happy guests. Additionally, safety issues in parking lots have been linked to premises liability in some jurisdictions.

In addition to avoiding liability, careful thought of the legal issues involved in hosting a party at your home can ensure guests enjoy themselves. Guest safety, local regulations and being mindful of the neighbors are all wise areas to think through in party planning.

This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her four-year-old husky Snowball.

Ralph Nader Opens “Tort Museum” in Connecticut

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The Washington Post reports from Winsted, CT on the American Museum of Tort Law, “the two-decade, nearly $3 million dream of consumer advocate and persistent presidential candidate Ralph Nader,” complete with “a cartoon exploding Pinto, cartoon cigarettes, cartoon asbestos, a cartoon depicting that historic moment in torts when a 190-degree cup of McDonald’s coffee burned Scalding Crusader Stella Liebeck.” The museum is “dedicated to torts, the law of wrongful injuries. ‘It’s the first law museum in North America of any kind,’ says Nader, 81, stooped, a tad grayer, offering a tour of his baby, 6,000 square feet of exhibit space in a former bank building.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Car Seats Seldom Fixed After a Recall

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Cars reports that despite recalls targeting more than 6 million child-safety seats in 2014, “only 42 percent of families fill out and return the car-seat registration card,” and “only 68 percent knew that the registration card pertains to safety.” Car-seat registration “allows the manufacturer to contact owners directly if there’s a recall and send any needed items for repairs,” the article reports. Parents can also look up their car seat using the NHTSA’s tool to see if it has been recalled by entering the model and production information.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Can You Sue a Restaurant for Food Poisoning?

Can You Sue a Restaurant for Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is one of life’s horrific little surprises. After a nice night out, you might have to deal with days of agony. You could miss a big meeting, have to call out to work and even spend some time in the emergency room. It’s only natural that you might believe someone needs to pay for your pain. In legal terms, you very well might want to bring a lawsuit. The question remains, though, whether you have any standing to do so. The answer, as you might surmise, is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no.

A Qualified Yes

If you’re looking for a direct answer, you’ll find a qualified “yes” after looking around. Yes, food poisoning is actionable. It’s the vagueness of the act itself that makes the yes qualified, though, as you aren’t always able to collect even if you do believe you’ve gotten food poisoning from a given restaurant.

Know the Law

Before you start down this road, it’s important to look to the laws of your state—if there’s anything on the books that limits your ability to collect from a restaurant, you’ll be out of luck. This isn’t the case in most states, though—but it’s a good place to start.

Showing Harm

To bring a suit for food poisoning, you have to start by showing that a harm occurred. In legal terms, this means you need to show that you suffered some kind of harm that has caused you some form of monetary damage. If you get a sick stomach and go to work the next day, there’s not going to be a chance for you to collect. If you’ve missed work or had to incur any medical expenses, though, you’re more likely to have a valid suit.

Finding Proof

If you can show damages, you then have to show your illness came from the food (or environment) in that specific restaurant. This is incredibly hard to prove, and might involve expensive testing and legal assistance from Pritzker Law or a firm in your area. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go through with the process, of course, but it can be a major hurdle. The cost of testing can be rolled into the amount awarded you by the court, but be careful—you could end up footing the bill if your suit is spurious.

You might be able to sue for food poisoning, but that doesn’t always mean you should do so. Always consult a lawyer before you try to bring any sort of lawsuit. A good attorney will help you determine if you should move forward in your attempt to collect damages.

Author information: Anica Oaks is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

Friday Fun

My wife loves cats, has several, and is always sending me videos of cats getting themselves in trouble. This kitty stalking windshield wipers is funny.

Government Report Finds Social Security Disability Overpayments Rare

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The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report entitled “Overpayments in the Social Security Administration’s Disability Programs – A 10-Year Study,” No. A-01-14-24114 (June 2015), available at http://oig.ssa.gov/audits-andinvestigations/audit-reports/A-01-14-24114.

The report followed 1,532 people who received disability benefits from October 2003 to February 2014. It found that 44.5% of the sampled population had at least one overpayment during that time, and this was the finding reported by many media outlets. However, the overpaid amounts were a very small percentage of the total benefits paid during this time. Most of the overpaid funds were recovered and the vast majority of overpayments occurred not because of fraud, but because of SSA’s errors or unavoidable consequences of program design. Furthermore, this report did not attempt to estimate how many people who receive Social Security disability benefits are ever underpaid.

Extrapolating from the sample, the report found that SSA likely overpaid $16.8 billion during the time frame studied. Of this, approximately $8.1 billion was recovered and $2.4 billion was waived or cancelled. While the remaining $8.7 billion in unrecovered overpayments from the Title II and SSI disability program is a large sum, it pales in comparison to the total amount of disability benefits paid in the ten-year period. For instance, in 2013 alone, and only counting Title II, SSA paid $140.1 billion in disability benefits.

The most common reason for an overpayment was a change in beneficiary’s income. This accounted for approximately 38% of overpayments. As discussed in a recent House Ways and Means Committee Social Security Subcommittee hearing (see article on page 1), when disability beneficiaries report earnings to SSA, it can take the agency months or years to adjust benefits, causing overpayments. SSA took an average of one month to identify overpayments due to a beneficiary’s death, three months to do so when a beneficiary was incarcerated, and nine months when a beneficiary had earnings.

Nearly 24% of the payments the report classified as overpayments occurred when individuals undergoing Continuing Disability Reviews opted to continue receiving benefits while their appeals were pending. SSA objected to these payments’ inclusion in the overpayment report because federal law allows beneficiaries to request benefit continuation in this situation, and even individuals who are found to have medically improved can have their overpayments waived if they pursued their appeals in good faith.

Please read the rest of the report for additional details

From the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.

 

DOT Opposes Proposed Longer, Heavier Semi-Truck Trailers

department_of_transportation.pngKPRC-TV Houston reports that semitrucks with dual trailers “could get longer and heavier if two bills make their way through the federal government.” One bill “would allow each dual trailer to be 5 feet longer, for a total of 10 additional feet,” the article reports, while the other bill “would allow trucks to have a maximum weight of 91,000 pounds instead of the current limit of 80,000 pounds.” The US Transportation Department “recently wrote a letter urging Congress not to allow longer trailers, saying there hasn’t been enough safety testing.” The letter written by the by US Transportation Under Secretary Peter Rogoff to Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster says, “At this time, the Department believes that the current data limitations are so profound that the results cannot accurately be extrapolated to predict national impacts. As such, the Department believes that no changes in the relevant truck size and weight laws and regulations should be considered until these data limitations are overcome.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Bill to Require Study of Vehicle Cybersecurity

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The Hill reports that Reps. Joe Wilson and Ted Lieu intend to introduce legislation that “would require a cross-sector study to examine detection protocols, deterrence techniques and privacy best practices” regarding vehicle cybersecurity. The bill would require the FTC and NHTSA “to develop standards to protect drivers’ privacy and to guard against a potentially deadly hack of a vehicle,” the article reports. The Hill calls the bill “much less ambitious than similar legislation in the Senate.” Wilson is quoted saying, “I am proposing the SPY Car Study Act because it is irresponsible to mandate changes in a developing field before accurately assessing the situation.” The Hill says that “several high-profile car hacking incidents” have “thrust” vehicle cybersecurity “into the limelight.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

NHTSA Tool Helps Consumers Track Vehicle Recalls

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Edmunds reports that an NHTSA video “helps consumers understand the importance of their car or truck’s Vehicle Identification Number and whether their vehicle is subject to a safety recall.” Consumer can enter their VIN number on the “NHTSA’s VIN Lookup Tool, an easy way to check if the vehicle has been recalled,” the article reports.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Friday Fun

When I was young we didn’t have video games or computers. So in my college days I spent countless hours at the Baylor Drug Store playing pinball. (At least when I wasn’t at the pool hall.)

The machines in this little video are more modern than the ones I played on, but the intoxicating effect is the same.

Mother Pushes for New Federal Law for Rental Car Companies

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In a 1,500-word article, the Los Angeles Times reports on how Cally Houck, whose daughters were killed due to a faulty power steering hose in an Enterprise rental car, was able to petition Congress to introduce a bill to prohibit car rental companies from renting out recalled vehicles to the public without repairs. The bill was first introduced in 2011, but it never had a hearing. It was filed again each year, “gaining allies and converting opponents.” In the spring of 2015, House sponsor Rep. Lois Capps got a provision included in $305 billion, five-year highway funding bill. While GOP Rep. Roger Williams, who owns a car dealership in Texas, added an amendment to exempt car dealers’ rentals, both houses of Congress reached a compromise, and Capps and Sen. Barbara Boxer “each said removing the exemption in future law is a priority.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Truck Drivers Anonymous: Why You Should Retain a Lawyer

Truck Drivers Anonymous Why you Should Retain a Lawyer

Victims of truck accidents need to retain a truck accident attorney immediately after an accident. Truck accident cases involve complicated litigation. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers that do nothing but defend trucking accident cases. They try to pick cases apart piece by piece. You’ll need your team of trucking accident lawyers on your side supporting every element of liability and damages while advocating for you and your family.

Never give the truck’s insurer a statement
It’s likely that insurers will ask you to give a written or recorded statement without an attorney being present on your behalf. You’re under no legal obligation to give it to them. They’ll only use it against you in the future after you’ve already damaged your case. There’s a time and place to give a statement. Your truck accident attorney will prepare you for that and be present with you when you give it.

Both state and federal laws apply
You’re going to be required to prove that the truck driver and/or those who owned, loaded or maintained the truck were negligent. Negligence can involve complicated issues of the common law, Pennsylvania statutes and federal regulations governing the trucking industry.

Disputed liability
A common mistake is to retain a lawyer without any experience in accidents involving tractor trailers. Experience in truck accident litigation is essential. Numerous parties might have contributed to liability, and they’ll be pointing their fingers at each other and you too. According to the Philadelphia truck accident attorneys at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., an attorney with extensive experience will maintain as much control as possible over the liability aspect of the case.

Documentation of evidence
Our truck accident investigation team will begin documenting the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and they’ll prepare to obtain statements of any witnesses right after we’re retained. The truck insurer will have its investigative team. You should have your team too. Our team’s experience taught us how to dig for and uncover critical and pivotal evidence.

Medical knowledge
More than just a grasp of the medical issues in a case is required in truck accident cases. The truck accident attorney must be articulate in the nature, extent, diagnosis and prognosis of the client’s injuries because the insurance defense attorneys can be expected to dispute each and every element of damages.

Never try to even get to step one of a truck accident claim alone. Contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation immediately after a truck accident, and get your case moving right away.

This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her four-year-old husky Snowball.

Six Crimes That Carry The Most Serious Penalties

6 Crimes That Carry The Most Serious Penalties

Being convicted of a crime usually means you will face some type of penalty, such as probation or time in jail. The penalties are adjusted under the law to match the perceived severity of the crime and the interests of society. A handful of crimes are seen as being far worse than most of the others. Here are six crimes that carry the most serious penalties.

Murder

Murder through premeditation, an accident during the commission of a crime, or as part of an assault carries the harshest penalties under the law. You can be sentenced to 50 or more years in jail. Some people receive life imprisonment. Murder convictions can also qualify for the death penalty if it is legal in the jurisdiction where the crime took place.

Drug Crimes

Drug crimes have some of the most serious penalties today. Possession of large quantities of drugs and possession with intent to distribute can result in jail terms of 30 years or more and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Part of this is due to mandatory sentencing laws. It often takes the help of an experienced attorney, like those found at athenscriminallawyer.com, to avoid the most severe penalties.

Sexual Assault

Felony sexual assaults can result in jail terms of 25 to 30 years depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case. The most punitive sentences are reserved for those committing sexual assaults against minors who are usually 10 years old or younger.

Kidnapping

Kidnapping can carry a sentence of 25 years or longer along with massive fines and penalties after leaving prison. Felony kidnapping means holding someone forcibly against his or her will. Using a gun can increase the penalties. Kidnapping is often included with other charges such as sexual assault.

Arson

First-degree arson can land you in prison for up to 25 years. It also has a potential fine of $20,000. Arson is penalized heavily under the law since it can put so many people in danger and potentially harm an entire city.

Government Fraud

A final crime that receives exceptionally heavy penalties is government fraud. This means fraudulent stealing from the government, assistance programs or town departments. Government fraud above a certain amount can result in a 20-year term in prison and large fines.

It is important to remember that crimes are treated differently between jurisdictions. Judges can also impose highly varied sentences depending on individual circumstances and requests from the prosecutor. These six crimes are considered some of the worst that can be committed for various reasons.

This article is courtesy of Anita Ginsburg, a freelance writer from Denver who often writes about home, family, law and business. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing.

How You Can Get Compensation for a Traumatic Brain Injury

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Traumatic brain injuries can be devastating for a few different reasons. Not only are these types of injuries especially difficult to recover from, but the side effects are not always felt in the first few days or weeks following an accident. For those with a head or brain injury, here is a look at the steps that must be taken to receive compensation.

Seek Out Immediate Medical Attention

One of the biggest mistakes that a patient can make is waiting to get medical help. Delaying medical attention for even a few hours could actually increase the impact that these injuries have on an individual. Some of the most common signs of a traumatic brain injury include nausea, ringing in the ears, dizziness, trouble speaking, and disorientation. Call for an ambulance immediately if you notice any of these signs after an accident.

Contact an Attorney

When you or a loved one is able to do so, you must contact an attorney to seek out legal advice. These cases can become especially complex, and attempting to take on the legal system alone will be nearly impossible. You and your attorney will be able to take the proper steps to protect yourself legally, create a case, and then seek out compensation from the party or parties that were at fault. Fannin Law discusses head and brain injuries and offers a questionnaire to help you determine the extent of your head injury.

Creating a Case

These cases are difficult to tackle because the victim and their attorney must be able to prove that an injury has occurred, it was not the victim’s fault, and that it was not a pre-existing condition. The legal representative will need to collect a wide variety of data from countless sources. This includes everything from the victim’s medical history and school records to the police statements and doctor’s notes. The immense amount of legwork that is needed for a traumatic brain injury case can be overwhelming.

Avoid Speaking to Others About Your Injury

Many victims go out and tell family and friends about their injury, but this can harm their case in the long run. Even if the victim only shares what they believe to be the truth, their statements might be used against them. The injured party should also avoid sharing any information on social media. Finally, it is important to refrain from speaking with any other lawyers or insurance agents without first speaking to one’s own attorney.

Traumatic brain injury patients will need to carefully follow the instructions given to them by their doctors and their legal representatives in order to quickly receive the compensation that they deserve.

Author information: Anica Oaks is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

Merry Christmas!

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From us to you, we hope you get everything you need today.

Photo by stockimages, via freedigitalphotos.net.

Law Schools Loosen Admissions Requirements

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The New York Times reports that law schools across the country are “admitting students with lesser qualifications, including those with a lower admissions test score,” as they struggle to “keep their classrooms full.” According to a new study by nonprofit advocacy group Law School Transparency, roughly one third of law schools had entering classes “with at least 25 percent of the class consisting of ‘at risk’ students, or those with law school admissions test scores of below 150.” The report suggests that these students have a significantly reduced chance of passing the bar, and notes that law schools are facing their lowest enrollment numbers in decades.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

NPR Examines Workplace Injuries Suffered by Nursing Staff

The NPR “All Things Considered” program examined some of the dangers nursing employees face at work, noting that the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that more than 35,000 nursing employees suffer back and other injuries at work each year. In fact, according to the BLS, “nursing assistants are injured more than any other occupation, followed by warehouse workers, truckers, stock clerks and registered nurses.” The piece notes how some hospitals are trying to reduce the risk. However, “David Michaels, the assistant secretary of Labor who heads the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” said Congress and the courts have severely restricted OSHA’s ability “to require hospitals to protect nursing employees.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Understanding Social Security Disability and What Makes You Eligible

Down and Out What to do when you don't Qualify for Social Security Disability

Have you recently been injured, or do you suffer from a physical disability, illness or disease? It is important to understand all of your options, and whether you qualify to receive Social Security benefits.

Have you been denied benefits?

Social Security laws are complicated, and it is difficult to obtain benefits on your own. Or maybe you have applied for benefits and been denied. Law firms like Snow, Carpio and Weekly are familiar with Social Security law and can effectively get you the benefits you deserve. The majority of first time claims for Social Security are denied. Do not be discouraged. Contact a professional who specializes in Social Security law.

What is a qualifying disability?

A person applying for benefits does not have to meet the specific requirements for a certain condition or illness in order to obtain benefits. You can obtain benefits if your illness or condition matches the criteria on the list of qualifying disabilities. Also, if your condition affects your ability to work and perform your regular daily activities, then it is important to apply for Social Security benefits so you can start getting the benefits you deserve. Your attorney will review the entire list of qualifying disabilities with you.

Can I receive disability payments for a mental illness?

Yes, you can receive disability for a mental illness. The stigma associated with mental illness often prevents those affected from seeking benefits. Don’t let that stop you. There are many people suffering from mental illness who successfully obtain Social Security disability and now have the peace of mind that financial security offers.

What will SSA consider?

When you apply, the Social Security Administration will look at your condition, and assess your ability to perform your daily tasks and if there is a job you can do safely and effectively. Your work history and current skills are also taken into consideration.

Can an attorney really help?

Yes, being represented by a lawyer can greatly increase your odds of being approved for benefits, especially if you have been turned down before.

How much does an attorney cost?

Most attorneys who specialize in disability law offer the first consultation free of charge, and will provide advice on your odds of getting benefits. Fees charged are only collected upon winning of your case, and all fees charged are approved by the Social Security Administration.

Your health and financial well-being is being jeopardized every day without the benefits you deserve. Contact an attorney today.

This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her four-year-old husky Snowball.

6 Ways to Handle Your Personal Injury Case

6 Ways to Handle Your Personal Injury Case

Have you been injured because of another party’s negligence? If so, you need to make sure you are compensated for any damages.

Get Legal Advice

If you believe you have been injured due to the negligence of another party, the first thing you should do is seek legal advice. While you may be able to find general information online, an attorney can provide guidance on your specific situation.

Acquire Witness Information

If there are other people who witnessed the incident that caused your injury, make sure you get their contact information. You may need to call on them to testify if your case goes to trial. It’s also a good idea to make sure they would be willing to testify in the event that there is a trial. A professional, like those available at Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer, can help you through the process. If you’re working with an attorney, be sure to provide the witnesses’ contact information.

Document Everything

Any discussion related to your case should be documented in detail. This is very important because you will need to make sure you have all the facts. Conversations with doctors, attorneys, insurance companies, and anyone else should be documented. You never know when you will need to refer to previous conversations.

Take Pictures

Along with making sure you document everything about the incident, you will also need to take pictures of the location where the incident occurred. If possible, take photos of any objects involved in the incident. You may not end up needing all of the pictures, but it’s better to have them just in case.

Don’t Take the First Offer

When offering a settlement, the other party is likely to make a low-ball offer. Don’t take it. If you’re working with an attorney, make sure he or she is asking for the highest amount possible. You want to make sure that you are getting fully compensated for your injuries.

Report the Incident to Your Insurance Company

When you are injured, you need to make sure you notify your insurance company as soon as possible. The sooner they are made aware of the incident, the better. Again, make sure you fully-document any conversation with your insurance representative. This will help you ensure that your insurance company covers any medical costs.

If another party’s negligence has caused you to be injured, it’s important that you make sure you’re following the right steps. It’s always best to consult an attorney before bringing any action against the other party. This will help you ensure that you are fully compensated for any difficulties you may have to endure.

Author information: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on twitter: @RachelleWilber