March 15th, 2018|
In February the DS Team dived deep into high concept Sci-Fi with “Annihilation.” Based mostly on the first novel in the “Southern Reach Trilogy” that goes by the same name, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac as a married couple whose lives become thrust into a government investigation of a phenomena happening in a national park, which the government simply refers to as “The Shimmer.” When Kane (Oscar Isaac) disappears and suddenly returns after a year as the only living member of an expedition that went into the shimmer, he suddenly becomes violently ill. His wife Lena (Natalie Portman) a biologist goes in with a new expedition in hopes she can find the answer to save him.
The first thing that stuck out to the DS Team in their reviews was the visuals. This movie is shot on location most of the time, which gives a refreshing lack of CGI and/or green screen for the majority of the movie. The use of practical effects is especially nice. The performances of Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac are strong, while the supporting cast for the most part are serviceable. There are strong themes that continue throughout the movie, and by the end you may be wondering aloud to yourself what this movie was actually about.
For the most part, DS team members saw this movie as a 3/5, with a couple of stronger ratings. The issues of this movie revolve mostly around the resolution of the film, along with the complex narrative. However, writing, visuals, and super creepy, and occasionally disturbing imagery, make this movie worth a look!
March 10th, 2018|
Spring forward! As daylight saving time approaches this weekend, most folks are excited for more daylight when we get home from work or school to enjoy the nice spring weather. However, when clocks move forward in the spring we lose an hour – one precious hour of sleep! This leaves many feeling “out of whack” or unable to adjust for a few days, or even weeks. One hour of lost sleep can surely make us more tired, but some might not realize what that means for their safety and the safety of others. Slight changes in sleep patterns and circadian rhythms can alter our alertness, and in some cases, increase the number of auto crashes.
There have been multiple research studies performed which show that there is a very small but very significant increase of deaths in motor vehicle collisions on the Monday after we spring forward. There’s also research which shows that the first six days following the change in time prove to be more dangerous on the road. People are still adjusting to the shift in time on the Monday after, and it’s been compared to the equivalent of suffering from jet lag. People are also adjusting to the darker morning commutes, and at the same time they are less alert due to sleep deprivation. Our driving skills aren’t the only thing in danger, as it’s also been reported there’s an increase in workplace incidences in the days after we spring forward.
The important lesson isn’t that driving on the Monday after “springing forward” is unusually dangerous, but rather that small decreases in our total amount of sleep can stress our bodies and cause incidents. What can you do to plan for Monday and the week following the time change? Go to bed early Saturday night, get enough sleep in the days before the clocks spring forward, and keep an eye out for fatigued drivers for the next few days.
March 5th, 2018|
In today’s world, with seemingly everyone oversharing on social media it would seem quite natural to make a post following a car wreck. However, this can have severe negative consequences in the world of personal injury lawsuits – especially with insurance companies looking for any angle to attack the value of our clients’ cases.
By far, the safest option following a car wreck is to deactivate all your social media accounts. However, if you can’t bring yourself to completely un-plug, the following is a non-exhaustive list of social media “don’ts” for people following a car wreck.
- Privacy. Set all your social media accounts to PRIVATE. This is a step that can be taken right now, before a car wreck, and applies to all social media platforms including (but not limited to) Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Tumblr. In Texas, if your account is not set to private, anyone – including the adverse insurance company and defense attorney – can access your account and use it against you. Setting your account to private does not guarantee that it cannot be used against you, but typically will require a court order to access.
- Requests. Along the same lines as #1, do not accept any strange friend or connection requests following your car wreck. Allowing an unknown person or entity access to your account places you at risk for sharing private information that could inevitably be used against you. This especially pertains to requests from the other driver(s), their family and friends, and insurance adjusters.
- Posts. Your social media sharing after a car wreck should NEVER include any information regarding the wreck. This does not merely include the circumstances of the crash, feelings about the other driver, but your injuries and treatment. If you are reading this now and have shared information regarding your car wreck, delete it immediately. Even pictures of yourself doing things completely unrelated to the wreck can be used against you by an insurance adjuster to “prove” you weren’t really hurt. This happens more than people would guess.Remember, when it comes to personal injury cases, silence is golden. There will come a time and a place to tell your story, but social media is neither. Stay off social media about your wreck and avoid unforeseen consequences!
March 4th, 2018|
The Post is the Oscar nominated film starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg, and scored by John Williams. This is an all-star cast with an all-star team behind and they create a compelling and dramatic movie. While the subject matter is interesting, you won’t be on the edge of your seat.
The Daniel Stark team got to enjoy The Post, which is about the Washington Post’s embattled decision to post the “Pentagon Papers” which revolved around studies the government had conducted on whether the Vietnam War would be successful. Meryl Streep is of course, as usual, fantastic, which is essentially par for the course for her at this point in her career. In this movie, she has been nominated for best actress, which makes for her 21st Oscar nomination, the most of any actor in history.
Tom Hanks, and all the supporting cast, play their roles very well, and the movie is very well directed by Steven Spielberg, keeping the audience engaged in the film, and even throwing in audio from Richard Nixon’s phone call conversations regarding the Post, which gives you an idea of the risk the Washington Post was taking at the time.
The team at Daniel Stark enjoyed the film overall, giving scores of at least a 4/5, take a look at the team member’s reviews below!
March 1st, 2018|
Northway Farms is a non-profit community located in Bryan-College Station, Texas. Northway Farms offers affordable housing, restorative employment, and a loving family to women and children living in extreme poverty. They use farming as an enterprise to offer sustainable employment and a source of revenue for their residents. Their mission is to break the debilitating, often generational cycle of poverty, one family at a time. By meeting the most basic needs of mind (safety of home), body (integrity of work), and soul (belonging of family) for our residents, Northway Farms offers hope to homeless families, while empowering our community into a lifestyle of service.
Justin and Kasey Van Norman were led into the dream of Northway Farms after Kasey miraculously won her battle with an aggressive form of cancer. Through their own journey of suffering and then healing, they gained understanding and deep compassion for those around them still hurting. They worked for a local rescue and rehabilitation ranch for minors where their hearts were opened to the widespread pain and injustice suffered by families in their own backyard. The Van Normans discovered poverty and homelessness to be the common thread holding harmful patterns in place, and developed and founded Northway Farms as a way to reach these needs within the Bryan-College Station area.
If you would like to help support Northway Farms, please join us in our Facebook campaign for March, April, and May. For every New Like our Daniel Stark Law Facebook Page receives, we will match with $1 donated to this empowering organization. Please help us spread the word!
Visit northwayfarms.org to learn more!
February 21st, 2018|
When you think of driving a car, what is the first thought that comes into your mind? A dream of driving your favorite exotic sports car… The feeling of seemingly limitless freedom when you first received your driver’s license… The endless sea of brake lights in front of you that time you were caught in the worst traffic ever… Did anyone immediately think of fastening your seat belt? Checking your mirrors? Making sure your airbags are turned on? Safety may not have been the first thought in your mind, and that’s okay; however, safety while driving should be one of your first thoughts. Always. Your life may depend on it.
In America, we are constantly persuaded, swayed, or tempted by commercial advertising to want a vehicle based on the emotions that it will invoke within us. The allure and status of driving a particular luxury car brand. The fuel economy of the newest electric-powered vehicle promising less maintenance and upkeep. The notion that no other car or truck is built Ford Tough like yours was. Far be it from me to tell you which make or model is “the best” or best fits your lifestyle and why. My intention is merely to point out that vehicle safety should be the most important consideration when shopping for a new car or truck.
In Texas in 2016, 3,773 deaths occurred in motor vehicle accidents, up 5.45% from the prior year. Over 17,000 people suffered serious injuries on Texas roadways last year. Almost half of the traffic fatalities occurred in urban areas, and as such, almost half were in rural areas. Vehicle safety is not just a concern for people in big cities, or people with enough money to buy a luxury car. Vehicle safety reaches every corner, every town, and every person that steps foot inside a vehicle even if they don’t drive – your kids, your dog, your mother-in-law.
Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers wants to help make vehicle safety a top priority in your life. Despite all the risks associated with driving, each year auto manufacturers continue to produce safer vehicles as technology stimulates innovative new ideas and defenses to protect consumers. There are many publications that each claim to definitively rank which new vehicles are the safest each year – US News, Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book, Car and Driver, etc. – based on their own unique ways of testing and probing the new model year vehicles. To help with the collection, review, and comparison of each publication’s particular rankings, Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers has compiled its own list of “Safest Cars for 2017” based on the voluminous reports and publications out there for consumers. Find out if the next car you want to buy is on our list, starting with our Top 5…
#5 – Honda Accord
One of the best-selling brands of cars in America for three decades, the Honda Accord is seemingly always on a “best cars” list each year. The Accord for 2017 is no exception, taking home prestigious rankings by US News & World Report, Forbes, and the Drive. The Accord also received the top safety rating (Top Safety Pick +) from the IIHS – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – and a Kelley Blue Book Expert Rating of 9.3 out of 10. The 2017 model is the first to incorporate Honda’s new HondaSensing safety features – rear-view camera, brake assist – in the vehicle as standard equipment. The Accord is modestly priced in the $20,000’s depending on whether you need leather seats or the best new technology.
#4 – Chevrolet Volt
Chevy’s second generation plug-in hybrid is capable of going 53 miles without gasoline, or if necessary, averages 103 mpg overall (EPA). While its fuel economy is its most prominent feature, this vehicle is also one of the safest on the road. It comes with 10 airbags and a rear-view camera standard, with optional safety features that rival those of much more expenses luxury cars. As with all other vehicles on this list, the Volt also received an IIHS top safety rating of TSP+ and a KBB Expert Rating of 9.0. The standard model will start in the low $30,000’s, but you may also qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits.
#3 – Genesis G80
Hyundai’s high-end model brand, Genesis, is only a decade old, but that doesn’t preclude it from producing an impressive lineup of safe and valuable vehicles. The 2017 G80 not only received a perfect 5-star rating from the NHTSA – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – but also received the IIHS TPS+ rating. Needless to say, this is objectively one of the safest cars on the road, and its advanced safety features won’t cost you extra. The standard safety features include automatic braking, blind spot warning, lane assist, lane change alerts, and rear cross traffic alerts. With a KBB Expert Rating of 9.2, and a starting price at about $40,000, it is the most expense model on Daniel Stark’s Top 5.
#2 – Volvo S60
Volvo is a brand name synonymous with safety. The company has pledged to have no person seriously injured or killed in one of their cars by the year 2020 in the company’s new project, Vision 2020. The S60 is a step toward this vision. Similar to the Genesis, the S60 boasts a 5-star NHTSA safety rating, and is an IIHS TPS+ award winner. While its standard equipment does not include a rear-view camera (which quickly becoming the standard on most models), Volvo has included more high end safety features as standard equipment such as HID projector headlights with active cornering technology and low-speed automatic emergency braking. If the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about driving a car is safety, then you probably already own a Volvo. But if you don’t, and you want a vehicle produced by a company whose sole focus is on your safety, the Volvo S60 starts at around $30,000.
#1 – Subaru Legacy
Surprisingly, the Subaru Legacy is present on every 2017 customer review and award publication. Is it because of the 5-star NHTSA safety rating? The elusive IIHS TPS+ rating? Great price range, starting in the low $20,000s? While it’s certainly not the most advertised vehicle, the most popular vehicle, or the cheapest, the Subaru Legacy will give you the most safety for your dollar. Along with a suite of standard and optional safety features, the Legacy will also give you Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive. It’s no wonder that Subaru is ranked as one of the safest and most dependable vehicle manufacturers by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. The Legacy takes the coveted position as #1 in our DS Top 5 due to its overall quality, dependability, and safety.
While the different magazines, publications, and online lists of the safest cars in 2017 will include various types of vehicles such as minivans, trucks, or SUV’s, our list focused mainly on those vehicle models which appeared on multiple lists (some were on every list). Unintentionally, the DS Top 5 includes all cars, so to broaden the spectrum a bit we will discuss the Safest Truck, Safest Minivan, and Safest SUV, according to their rankings and presence on national reports.
SUV – Acura MDX
While not a perfect rating in all the crash tests, the MDX received top marks from the NHTSA overall, and also took home an IIHS TPS+ designation. Every MDX will include lane assist, emergency braking, rear cross traffic assist, and rear-view camera features. Standard. The “technology” optional package bumped up the safety feature to an even higher level. At a price though, starting in the mid-$40,000 range. No other SUV contains a higher quality package of safety features than the MDX.
Minivan – Chrysler Pacifica
The only minivan in 2017 to receive the IIHS TPS+ safety designation was the Pacifica. It also received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA. While most of the advanced safety features are available with optional packages, the standard package will provide a rear-view camera. KBB’s Expert rating is a stellar 9.3 and will start out at around $30,000. The Pacifica will seat 7-8 passengers and provide above 30 mpg on top of its high safety marks. Clearly a perfect choice for a larger family with an eye on safety.
Truck – Honda Ridgeline
A car, minivan, or SUV will not meet the needs of many Texans’ daily lives. The truck is king in the Lone Star State. But which model will provide you the most safety? It’s not Dodge, Ford, or Chevy. Japanese automaker Honda claims the title of safest truck in Texas with its unique Ridgeline. The only truck to appear in multiple national rankings, and the only truck in 2017 awarded by the IIHS with a TPS+ designation was the Ridgeline. This truck can be equipped with a staggering amount of safety features – through Honda’s new HondaSensing features – and was also awarded a 5-star crash rating by the NHTSA. No other truck has the safety features and design than the Ridgeline and is far and away the safest truck in Texas.
 U.S. nonprofit organization funded by auto insurers; established in1959 with the goal of reducing the number of traffic accidents in the USA and the rate of injuries in crashes. Researches and ranks passenger vehicles and studies traffic regulations, innovations in technology, and consumer products such as child booster seats.
 U.S Government agency of the Executive Branch within the Department of Transportation; creates and enforces vehicle safety standards and fuel economy standards; maintains the vehicle identification number (VIN) system
February 13th, 2018|
What do you think of when you hear the name “Mardi Gras”? Just the name Mardi Gras conjures up memories of amazing food, music, beads, purple, gold, and people letting loose. At Daniel Stark one of our core values is “Work Hard Play Hard”. To us, this means working hard for our clients, but also enjoying ourselves in the process. There are very few places on Earth to play harder than at Mardi Gras.
What is Mardi Gras?: Although Mardi Gras had ancient roots dating back thousands of years, most of us know it as a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Mardi Gras is traditionally celebrated on “Fat Tuesday”. In many areas, however, Mardi Gras has evolved into a week-long festival. Mardi Gras 2018 occurs on Tuesday, February 13, though many places (such as New Orleans) begin their celebrations the weekend before, starting on February 9.
Mardi Gras Locations:
Galveston, Texas: Self-proclaimed “Texas’ largest Mardi Gras celebration” has a Texas sized parade with elaborate musicians, floats, feasting, and family events. This historical Texas town is perfect for a little Cajun celebration every year!
Lake Charles, Louisiana: Lake Charles is one of my personal favorite places to visit. This Mardi Gras celebration is full of amazing Cajun food and zydeco music. My personal favorite eatery is Steamboat Bill’s on the Lake.
New Orleans, Louisiana: No other Mardi Gras celebration is as epic as the one in The Big Easy. This celebration is full of lively crowds and epic floats. Go visit and enjoy what the Cajun country call the “joie de vivre” or the “joy of living”. Work Hard Play Hard in the city of jazz but never drink and drive. Stay safe and play hard!
February 6th, 2018|
Super Bowl 52 was this weekend and spoiler alert, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots for the Eagle’s first ever Super Bowl win 41-33. The Patriots were in the lead for only 7 minutes, but for any football fan, the game seemed destined for a Tom Brady/Patriots come from behind victory. The Patriots never stopped believing they would come back, and the Eagles never stopped to celebrate their victory before the final whistle.
There were quiet a few back stories for this Super Bowl. Tom Brady extending his legacy, former champions playing for the other team, who is Nick Foles, and even free beer for an entire city.
The most intriguing story to me was the story of the underdog. While the Eagles and Patriots were both the number 1 seed in their respective conferences, the Eagles were underdogs in each of their 3 playoff games this season. This was largely due to the fact that Carson Wentz, the Eagles starting quarterback and favorite for league MVP at the time, was injured in December. His replacement, Nick Foles, was considering retirement just a few years ago. He ended as a Super Bowl MVP after he threw for 373 yards, 3 touchdowns, and caught another touchdown.
A backup quarterback to Super Bowl MVP, Foles wasn’t the only underdog. Football isn’t an individual sport and Foles acknowledged as much during his post game interview when he spoke about his teammates. During Foles post game interview I reflected on the game and the history I had just witnessed. The Eagles embodied the core values we at Daniel Stark live by each day.
Do it all, do it right, do it now
- The Eagles demonstrated the same sense of urgency to get things done the right way. Whether it was from a quarterback catching a touchdown pass or a defense that stopped arguably the greatest quarterback of all time to complete another comeback.
Arms out, thumbs up
- The Eagles and Carson Wentz were behind Nick Foles 100 percent which enabled him to perform and win MVP.
- You’re not doing anything remarkable if people don’t talk about you. I couldn’t count the times that Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth talked about the coaching and players of the Eagles.
Work hard, play hard
- Brandon Graham for the Eagles said it best – “I had to play hard for this one, but you know, I’m just happy, because we’re world champs, and we worked our butts off.”
Watching the Super Bowl was a great reminder that all great teams have values that make them successful. And the values we have at Daniel Stark, can be applied even to football.
January 19th, 2018|
For the last movie night of 2017, Daniel Stark Team Members saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi together. The movie, directed by Star Wars new timer Rian Johnson picks up after the events of The Force Awakens, where we find Rey seeking help from the long lost Luke Skywalker, and Kylo Ren doing everything he can to please the Supreme Leader the First Order. It returns Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill to the Star Wars franchise once again, and sees the return of Oscar Isaac and John Boyega, as well as some new comers.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the most divided movie reviews for the Daniel Stark team in 2017. The scores range from 3 to 1 million and opinions are divided. Most agree the special effects, along with the music and the majority of the writing is very good. Direction by Rian Johnson is solid, although some had some serious issues with some story choices in the movie, and whether they were the right direction, or whether they were even necessary. As a result, most agree that Star Wars is an entertaining entry into the franchise, and some say it’s a waste of really good potential.
December 1st, 2017|
It’s easy to think of homelessness as only the people we see on the street corners. Only a fraction of the actual numbers is the “visible homeless”. The majority are people you don’t see or consider, from families living in their car to refugees who have not yet settled into a home. Caritas of Austin, a nonprofit based out of Austin, knows that the most effective solutions to end homelessness in our community is by providing stability for the homeless, and ensuring that homelessness does not define people’s futures. As Daniel Stark’s Winter Charity, we believe in their vision to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring in Central Texas, and consider it a privilege to walk alongside this organization’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness.
Caritas of Austin believes that when every person has a stable place to call home, they can realize their full potential and contribute to our community. This organization builds wellbeing by making sure that people have a safe home, access to healthy groceries, jobs that provide a reliable living wage, and educational opportunities to learn life skills. All of us need a sturdy foundation and layers of support in our lives to thrive; that’s what creates a strong community. Caritas of Austin’s innovative, personalized and proven approach to building wellbeing and ending homelessness creates a more vibrant Austin for everyone.
Everyone deserves a joyful holiday season regardless of stability, and you can be a part of supporting this organization. For every new like on Daniel Stark’s Facebook page during December, January and February, Daniel Stark will match $1/like to be donated to Caritas of Austin to support their efforts to end homelessness in the Greater Austin area. Read more about this organization here, and be sure to stay tuned for upcoming Caritas of Austin volunteer opportunities that Daniel Stark employees will partake in over the next couple of months.