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Student Loan Forgiveness

Student Loans

In 2007, Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (student loan forgiveness), to encourage individuals to  work full-time in public service jobs. Under this program, former (or current) students may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on their eligible federal student loans. You need to have made  at least 120 payments on the  loan under repayment plans while employed full time by certain public service employers.


Your loan is eligible for forgiveness on your student loan if you received the loan under the  William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.  If you received your loan under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, the Perkins Loan Program, or any other student loan program,  then you’re not eligible for  the Public Loan Forgiveness Program.  Sorry.


What kinds of employment qualify?

Qualifying employment is any employment with a federal, state, or local government agency,  or a non-profit organization that has been designated as tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The nature of employment within the organization doesn’t matter for the Public Loan Forgiveness Program purposes.

Additionally, the type of services that these public service organizations provide doesn’t matter for PSLF purposes.  However, when determining full-time public service employment at a not-for-profit organization you may not include time spent participating in religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing.  The organization must not be a labor union or a partisan political organization.


What must you do to have any remaining balances on Direct Loans forgiven under the PSLF Program?

  • You must make 120 on-time, full, scheduled, monthly payments on your Direct Loans. Only payments made after October 1, 2007 qualify.
  • You must make those payments under a qualifying repayment plan.
  • When you make each of those payments, you must be working full-time at a qualifying public service organization.


Because it will take at least 10 years for you to make the 120 qualifying payments that they require for you to receive PSLF (the student loan forgiveness program), you’ll  need to submit a form and follow a process so you can track your periods of qualifying employment and your qualifying payments.  Here is the form that you have to submit for student loan forgiveness.


It might be a good idea to have a professional check out your student loan before signing any documents.  We think that we have to sign any document set before us and that isn’t true.  You should ask to take it home and read it over first. And then have an attorney or some other professional check out your loan papers.  It will be money well spent.


I know it sounds strange – here you are in the school’s loan office – begging them for money to continue your education. The last thing you can think of is to argue with them about the source of your loan.  But, you should make a plan before you get a school loan (or any type of loan – really). It will make a huge difference once you’re out of school and then required to pay it back. economy/student-loans/

And remember – you can NEVER get away from paying off your student loans! Even if you file for bankruptcy – you still have to pay off your student loan.  Every time you think you might get a tax refund from the government – oh NO – they debit that from your loan balance.  It’s a heavy burden to carry around until it’s paid off.  So, your best bet is to make a good deal on a student loan BEFORE you sign the paperwork.


If possible, get a loan under PLSF and make the best student loan deal you can before you sign any documents. When school is over, obtain employment in the public sector – then after 120 monthly payments – you could be eligible for student loan forgiveness.


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Man Held Wife Hostage at 4590 Texas Avenue

A  woman was held against her will on Tuesday morning in an apartment at La Promesa Del Norte, 4590 North Texas Avenue in Odessa, TX, according to a news release sent by the Odessa Police Department.ODESSA SWAT TEAM

 All Rights Belong To: NewsWest Nine 


The release stated police received several calls around 9 AM Tuesday morning in reference to the incident. When officers arrived on the scene, a man in the apartment refused to open the door for them.

The release stated it is not known whether he was armed or whether he has or would harm the female victim.

Odessa S W A T & the Criminal Investigations Unit team responded to the scene and residents in the near vicinity of apartment #189 were evacuated.

The investigation is ongoing and residents were asked to stay away from the area of San Jacinto Street and the 4500-4900 block of North Texas Avenue in West Texas.

The police line stretched around the complex and around the block to the next street where resident Cameron Sester was waiting. She evacuated but wasn’t surprised the police were there.

“I’ve lived in these apartments for seven years. It’s sad to say but I’m used to stuff like this. I mean, we’re in Odessa, it kind of scares me honestly,” Sester said.   Construction crews paving resident parking were told to keep working while snipers took cover on a apartment roof just a few feet away.

The hostage situation involving four children and a woman is now over. Police have taken suspect in for questioning. No one was harmed and there has been no word as to whether a weapon was involved.

Members of the Odessa Police Department team worked  to resolve the situation in which a man held his common-law wife and four children hostage Tuesday at the La Promesa apartments.

The Odessa Police Department,  S.W.A.T., and Crime Investigative Unit were all on scene to help rescue the hostages. Soon after, snipers, a K-9 unit, and an ambulance joined the crowd.

The man, now identified as 25-year-old Elias Sierra, after about a four hour standoff, the situation ended peacefully and Sierra was taken into custody without incident.

KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

*Odessa American 



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Graphic Texting Video

These girls were texting and driving. Do NOT text and drive. This could be you. It’d be great if we could get everyone to agree to stop texting & driving.

Be aware that this is a graphic video of a car crash. There is blood in this video. Please don’t watch if you’re squeamish.


Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:


  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses. On this page, you’ll find facts and statistics that are powerfully persuasive. If you don’t already think distracted driving is a safety problem, please take a moment to learn more. And, as with everything on, please share these facts with others. Together, we can help save lives.


Key Facts and Statistics

  • In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.
  • 18% of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
  • In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009. (CTIA)
  • 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
  • 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger. (Pew)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Monash University)
  • Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. (VTTI)
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. (VTTI)
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use. (VTTI)
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%. (Carnegie Mellon)

 *Stop texting & driving

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Accident Road Kit

Put everything in this accident road kit in a waterproof plastic container:

  • Cell Phone (Charged)
  • Disposable Camera (Cell Phone might not work)
  • Emergency Flares
  • Triangle Orange Reflector Cones (For Night Time Visibility)
  • Pen & PaPer
  • Medical Info Card
  • Emergency Numbers (Contact names of Relatives)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Mylar Blankets
  • Gallon of Water (Sealed)
  • Protein/Granola Bars
  • Toilet Paper
  • Jumper Cables
  • Duct Tape
  • Can of Fix-A-Flat
  • Flashlight (Prefer Hand-Cranked)
  • Swiss Army Knife


We think that we’ll never be in an emergency situation.  You can never be too prepared.You should have the basic essentials such as water, food, and warmth. You can save money by putting your own accident road kit together. If you decide to buy a prepackaged kit – then you should add things that will keep you warm, dry, fed and hydrated.


The only thing I know how to do for my car is how to put gas in it.  So, I also have a membership in an Auto Club & that’s absolutely essential for idiots like me that know nothing about cars. You never know when something’s going to happen to your car – no matter how well you maintain it or how new the car is.


Vehicle breakdowns do happen and they don’t always strike in a busy street. Sometimes we get into an accident or our car breaks down on a dark night – with no cell phone coverage. We have a lot of open land in Texas and we can’t always get a cell phone connection. If we can’t get a cell phone connection, that means no tow truck. Or no other help.


Take time to get familiar with the items you’ve collected in your accident road kit.  Make sure you know how to use everything. Remember that the most important thing is to use your good judgement. If you have a tire blowout, don’t stop in the high-speed lane to change it.  If possible, veer to the right side of the road. Use your reflective road triangles even if it’s the middle of the day.

If we have a roadside emergency and accident kit, it can ease the pain and reduce the hassle of such breakdowns.




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Top 10 Things To Do After a Car Accident

Stay Calm & Stay in the Car (if Possible)   

Here are the top 10 things to do after a car accident.  The air bag will mostly likely go off – which is a good thing. So, prepare yourself for the ‘airbag gasses’. They are very unpleasant.

Air bags definitely save body parts from damage. They also release an unpleasant gas that sort of makes you choke.

The experts say to stay in the car and call 911 (or the equivalent if you’re outside of the United States). That may or may not be good advice – so, you should make a judgement call when you have an accident.

For instance, if you’re in the middle of an intersection and can safely get out of harm’s way – then do it.  If you’re able to drive the car – then try to get it out of the road.  If, after the accident, you’re on the side of the road with no one around – then just stay in the car and wait for help.


2. Report the Car Accident

Call 911 as soon as you find your cell phone. Stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive and you’ve told them your description of what happened. The emergency help might not be able to get there as quickly as you want them to. Don’t believe what you see on television or the movies – when the ambulance gets there immediately.


Your injuries might not be apparent right after the accident. Call for an ambulance right away if you think you or your passengers need it. Many injuries will start off as minor pains (like whiplash) which if not taken care of properly could get worse over a few short days. Besides, getting a doctor to document EVERYTHING sooner can only help any insurance claims you need to make later.


3. Exchange Insurance details with other driver(s)

Always exchange driver details (after an accident) and take some accident notes. Write down the following details:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Phone Numbers
  4. Driver License
  5. License Plate Number
  6. Insurance Company Name & Policy Number

It’s possible that the driver of the car will be different than the name of the insured on the accident vehicle. They could also be borrowing someone else’s car. Take down the details for each of the drivers and the car owner. Also write down a description of the truck, including: make, model, and color.


4. Locate Any Witnesses

Hopefully someone else saw the accident. Try to get their name and number just in case you need a witness. They might not volunteer – so, you should ask.


5. Don’t Admit Fault

It’s easy to be upset when you’ve been run into (or when you crash into someone else). Don’t yell at them and say that it’s their fault, even if it is. Don’t admit to it even if you think it’s your fault. It might not be your fault.

Let the authorities do their jobs and use their tools to come to a conclusion. You don’t want to admit to something – as – you could just be in a state of shock or sadness. Or even hurt badly.

Don’t sign any documents – unless it’s for the police or your insurance agent.

6. Don’t Share Injury Concerns

If someone asks, “How are you doing?” keep a low profile by saying, “I’m shaken up”. The truth of the matter is you don’t know what is or isn’t wrong with you at this early stage. Besides, you don’t want to make statements while in shock and later have to refute them after seeking the advice of a medical professional.


7. Know What Your Car Insurance and Health Insurance Covers

Knowing your car and health insurance details could save you a lot of grief when dealing with a car accident scenario. It’s always better to know BEFORE an accident that you’re fully covered for ambulance trips, tow trucks, or rental cars.

Check your policies for specifics and get extra coverage today for those essentials you’ll need covered if you’re injured or your car cannot make the drive home.


8. Photograph and Document the Accident

Use your cell phone to take pictures. Take photographs of the damage to your car, the other driver’s car, and the entire accident scene to give perspective of the event. Take wide shots of tire skid markings to show vehicle travel paths. Photographs showing the entire accident can help you make your case to claims adjusters if there is a dispute.

If you require the services of an attorney, he or she won’t be able to help you without enough knowledge of the accident. Pictures will serve to prove what happened.


9. Report Accident To Your Insurance Company

As soon as your stomach has settled and you’ve gone to the doctor to get checked over, call your insurance company to report the accident – even if the damage seems minor or the other driver wants to settle without making an insurance claim. Seemingly small fender-bender car accidents can reveal major damage later on – like a bent car frame – so get your insurance company in the know sooner or you might be without coverage when you really need it.


10. Call Your Lawyer

While your car is sitting on the side of the road, take that time to call your lawyer. Ask the lawyer exactly what should you do before the car gets towed. If you get your legal beagle in the know sooner – than that might help you get the most from an insurance claim and help you see things more clearly later on.

Remember to remove your belongings from your car before it’s towed. Rescue any driving gadgets, insurance papers, repair reports, receipts, purse, wallet, school books, computers or music before leaving your keys with the tow operator.

Remember that vehicles are just stuff. People are priceless. Try the best you can to be thankful for what you have today, not for what you lost. Be sure to thank a higher power for your teeth and your toes.

In the next blog – I’ll discuss how to prepare an Emergency Road Kit.


In case of an Accident –

Call Odessa Law Practice @


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Do I Have To Stop Car If I Have An Accident?

Do I have to stop the car if I have an accident?  Hit and run penalties are severe. So if you don’t stop the car when you have an accident, you could be fined, sent to jail or both. This depends on the extent of the damage and/or injuries. You also could lose your driver’s license.

The law says you must stop your car if you have an accident, whether the accident involves a pedestrian, a moving car, a parked car or someone’s property.

If you drive away, you can be charged with hit and run even if the accident was not your fault. You must also exchange information with the other driver. You need to give them your name and driver’s license number, the vehicle identification number of the car you are driving, the name and address of the car’s owner, the name and address of your insurance company and your insurance policy number (or other evidence of financial responsibility, such as a bond posted with the Department of Motor Vehicles).

If you hit a parked car or other property, try to find the owner or driver. If you cannot, the law says you may drive away only after you leave behind, in a conspicuous place, your name, address and an explanation of the accident, and the name and address of your car’s owner (if other than yourself). You also must notify the local police either by telephone or in person as soon as possible.

You need to call the police if the accident caused a death or injury. An officer who comes to the scene of the accident will conduct an investigation. If an officer doesn’t show up, you must make a written report on a form available at the police department or office as soon as possible.

Do not volunteer any information about who was to blame for the accident. You may think you are in the wrong and then learn that the other driver is as much or more to blame than you are. You should first talk to your insurance agent, your lawyer or both.

Anything you say to the police or the other driver can be used against you later.
Don’t agree to pay for damages or sign any paper except a traffic ticket until you check with your insurance company or lawyer.

Be sure to cooperate with the police officer investigating the case. But, stick to the facts. For instance, if you were driving 30 miles an hour, say so. Don’t say, “I wasn’t speeding.” Say “I was only driving 30 miles an hour”.

Feel free to contact us for any questions at: 432-301-9252

Accident in Pleasanton, CA

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FREE: New Phone App For Car Accidents

Accidents Car accidents happen every day, but a survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners showed many Americans don’t know exactly what to do after an accident. Now there’s a smartphone app that walks you through the crucial steps to take if you’re in a car accident.

It’s called the “Wreck Check App”.

The WreckCheck mobile application, available to download for free for iPhone and Android users, helps remove the guesswork.  I put it on my cell phone & filled out the data too.  I want to have everything there to help me in case I get into an accident.

While drivers need to share information, the survey revealed consumers aren’t sure about exactly how much personal information to exchange. Consumers generally need only share their names and car insurance information. It’s unnecessary and could be risky to share additional information like driver’s license numbers and home addresses.

The WreckCheck App – available on your IPhone from Apple; or on your Android Phone from Google – walks you through the step-by-step process of creating you own accident report. It also provides tips for staying calm, safe and smart on the road, and makes it easy to capture accident photos and collect the necessary information to file an insurance claim. Additionally, the app lets you email a completed accident report directly to yourself and your insurance agent.

Click here to download the FREE Car Accident APP.






Have you been physically injured as a result of someone’s negligence?

If so, you might have the right to compensation. Knowing your rights, understanding the personal injury laws, and getting the right compensation can be tricky. Not knowing if you have a personal injury claim can be confusing and every case is different, but you can speak with a local attorney about your case and your rights to compensation.

Being injured, physically or emotionally can be a tough time, with medical bills mounting up, taking time off work, and dealing with getting better can be a burden and a financial strain. Connecting with a local personal injury attorney and getting your questions answered could make this time a lot easier. There are many types of personal injuries that can happen when you are harmed by someone else.

If you’ve been injured, or are suffering from a personal injury, a local attorney may be able to help answer your questions and help you get the compensation you deserve.
A personal injury attorney can explain some compensable damages you may be eligible to receive.

Working with a personal injury lawyer can allow you to focus on getting better while they handle your claim and deal with the insurance companies on your behalf.

Call us at: 432-301-9252 and connect with a local personal injury attorney to learn your rights and learn more about your personal injury options.


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How Can a Lawyer Can Help You in an Accident?

Accidents How can a lawyer can help you in an accident?  Let’s say the victim caused an event that happened because they forgot to do something.  But they didn’t do it on purpose.  Accidents happen every day. It’s defined as an event that occurs by reason of an act or omission of a person but without the element of voluntariness, or it happens by pure chance.


We see the results of unexpected events every day here at Odessa Law Practice because accidents happen every day.  Almost every person has caused one or two (most likely more) and it is usually not a big deal. However when an accident causes substantial injury, damage to property or death, then it becomes a big deal. This article will discuss accidents in general and how a lawyer can help you help yourself prior to, during, and after an accident.


Who or What Caused the Accident?

This cause can be segregated into a root cause (main cause) and subsequent cause. Knowing the root cause of the accident helps one determine who to blame and who not to blame.  More importantly, who to make liable in case of the accident. For example, Mr. Aaa and Mr. Bee were arguing over the second floor veranda. Mr. Aaa shoved Mr. Bee which caused the latter to run into the flower vase on the ledge and knock it over.


Then, the flower vase bashes the head of Mr. Cee – who was just a passerby. Of course you will say that Mr. Bee was the one who actually touched the vase but common sense will dictate that the root cause of the accident was Mr. Aaa,  who shoved Mr. Bee, without which the latter would not have ran into the flower vase.  Click here to see how a lawyer can help you in an accident.


What Is Insurance For?

The next question – from a lawyer’s point of view is “Is there adequate insurance coverage for the injury, damage, or death?”

The operative word here is “adequate” because in some cases, the damage or injury is too great or the insurance is too small to cover the entire cost. In this case, the person at fault or if unknown, the persons involved will be made liable, subject to reimbursement later on. For example, if Mr. Zee’s car insurance only covers a maximum of $20,000 per accident but the repairs for the damage property is $25,000 then Mr. Zee has to pay out of his own pocket, the difference.

What Can A Lawyer Do?

The discussion above is pretty basic and in most cases an accident involves a lot more facts and issues so the case may get complicated. This is the reason why most individuals hire a lawyer, to sort things out and determine whose fault it is to begin with. Attorney Gerald Fugit will make sure that everything is sorted out for the insurance companies so you have:

• Zero liability or at the very least minimal liability, as the accused;
• Maximum awards and satisfaction on to the punishment of the person at fault, as the accuser.


What if it was Your Fault?

Then the more you need a lawyer. This is because you need to make sure that all your rights are safeguarded. In that, you are made liable only for what you should be made liable and not made liable for more. Attorney Gerald Fugit will:

• Explain your rights and obligations;
• Go about defending your cause to the full extent of the law;
• Make sure that whatever liability given to you is the absolute minimum.

You Need Attorney Before You Sign Any Paperwork!

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Diesel Truck Accident in Midland TX

I’ve been detailing the many truck & auto accidents in my area here at Odessa Law Practice, and this accident happened a couple of  hours ago.  A Tanker truck that was filled with diesel fuel rolled over  at Craddick Highway & Holiday Hill Road.  They left a huge plume of black smoke over Midland, TX.   The tanker truck was filled with diesel fuel.  Emergency responders closed  off Holiday Hill Road until they had everything under control. There were multiple law enforcement and emergency fire teams on the scene. The rollover happened about 4:45 this afternoon.  We don’t know if the driver or anyone else was injured in the crash.

*Yesterday, on 07/28/2012, a 20-year-old Midland man died near Highway 191 and Loop 250. The victim was Mark Anthony Varela. Police stated that Varela was heading northbound, in the concrete landscape area South of 191 under the overpass for Loop 250.

Police stated that Varela was not on the roadway and he proceeded northbound and went off the edge of the underpass. They stated that he ended up upside down in the eastbound lanes of travel.

Police said a 2008 F-150 truck driven by 37-year-old Sammy Rocha and occupied by Sammy Rocha Jr., 18-years-old, struck Varela’s vehicle.

Varela died at the scene. Both occupants of the F-150 were transported to Midland Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.


These types of accidents happen all too often in the Odessa and Midland, TX area. Maybe a mandated ‘Driver Education Program’ would be able to curb the many car crashes that happen here.I know where I used to live in the North Country, the students in High School were taught Driver’s Education. The driving conditions were quite hazardous because seven months of the year we had ice and snow on the road. Yet, we didn’t have fatalities like they have in this area.In fact, a fatality was rare.

Last year in Odessa, TX, in 2011, we had over 100 car crashes. I think we’ve had almost that many this year already and it’s only July. I tried to research the data – but, I think the Media has been told to downplay the traffic accidents. I wasn’t able to find out any solid data for this year.Hopefully, MOTRAN will be able to help raise awareness. Please call Odessa Law Practice at 432-301-9252, if you have any issues with car accidents.

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Monster Trucks

Truckers that drive huge monster trucks hurl by slower drivers on Highway 349 in Midland/Odessa & play blind ‘highway chicken’. They endanger everyone’s lives.  Oil means prosperity.  And, we have lots of oil here in West Texas.  Right here in Midland/Odessa, TX,  just about everyone who is a farmer,  has been approached about drilling on their land. This vast oil area stretches all the way to Lubbock, TX.

There are currently 400 oil rigs going 24 hours a day – 8 days a week.  Oil workers like to joke that they work 366 days a year. 400  oil rigs are now our top record, which beats the last high of 399 rigs in 1981.  There is no sign  of a slowdown either.

So, why do I bring this up on a ‘lawyer blog’?  Several reasons. More oil activity means more auto traffic and car accidents.  More oil activity means more oil rig accidents.

Last weekend, when I drove from Midland to Lubbock & back again, it  gave me an anxiety attack.   It definitely tested my will and my nerves.   I drove on Highway 349,  a small road snaking past churning pump jacks, with only one lane each way. The trucks zip by at very unsafe high speeds, laden with oil field equipment, oil or oil workers.

The male drivers tick me off because they’re so impatient.  These men are driving gigantic dual  pick-up trucks  & they climb up your automotive rear and then rip by with a roar.  They almost run head-on into a truck going in the opposite direction.  It’s not uncommon for an impatient guy (it’s always a guy, (as far as I can tell) to pass four or five vehicles in a row in a sort of automotive blind chicken.  Really scary.

The Texas legislature should consider building a four-lane highway.  It would make driving safer for all of us.  The  monster truckers could  speed by at mach speed and the normal people could drive in the right-hand lane.  To be sure, it would cost of lot of money – but lives and sanity would be saved.

On a happier note, here is a montage of  fun at a Monster Truck Rally:

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