Estate Planning for the Finacial Future of Loved Ones
The first step in Estate Planning is the drafting of a Will. It is in a Will that a testator (the person making the Will) is able to legally identify everything that he/she will want to pass on to his/her spouse, children and other dependents, as well as what or how much cash each will have. The testator, according to Chicago elder law litigation attorneys, may also choose to draft a more elaborate Will wherein he/she can elect his/her preferred guardian for minor children (who will make sure that they are provided for, both personally and financially, upon death or incapacity), name a health-care proxy, who will make medical decisions for him/her if ever he/she gets incapacitated and, elect an executor, or the person who will manage the estate left for distribution. This executor is also tasked to see to it that the testator’s last wishes are fulfilled, that all unpaid debts are settled and, after payment of all debts, whatever remains will be distributed to all heirs.
The mental capacity of a testator during the drafting of his/her Will is essential as this is a guarantee that he/she is never influenced by anyone and that he/she is perfectly aware of his/her decisions. Equally important are the observance of the rights of every legal heir and being counseled by a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional to ensure that the Will’s contents comply with the laws of the state where the testator resides or where the estate owned is located).
A lawyer’s assistance can also help effectively address any litigation due to a Will contest that any heir may file. Contesting or challenging the validity of a Will can be filed by any heir who feels that he/she deserves more than what was left for him/her. An heir can also question the testator’s mental state when the Will was drafted, citing any possibility of influence or manipulation by someone with interest in the assets and properties.
As estate and trust disputes involve family members, all issues, therefore, are considered sensitive. Failure to address disputes effectively can only result to rivalries between family members which can create rifts in their relationship.
Family members should understand that an estate plan is meant to put order in their properties and assets, as well as to make sure that they will be able to enjoy the maximum value of everything through reduction of tax and other expenses. Thus, in the event of disagreement, which can lead to litigation, if the family members themselves fail to allay anyone’s doubts, then only a knowledgeable, experienced and skillful lawyer probably can.
Placing the Blame on Truck Drivers in the Event of Truck Accidents
There are more than 15 million trucks operating in the U.S.; about two million of these are semi-trucks, also called big rigs or 18-wheelers. Due to their very large size and very heavy weight, these can cause major property damage and serious or fatal injuries in the event of accidents. For this reason, the federal government requires that those who will operate a truck should have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which they can earn after going through a special training and education, and a series of tests that deal with the proper operation and handling of this types of vehicle.
Thus, as pointed out and emphasized by the law firm Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, drivers of semi-trucks, have greater responsibility on the road than drivers of other types of motor vehicles because if an accident were to occur, great damage and serious injury would likely result. Unfortunately, despite the great responsibility which they fully know they should display, some truck drivers are negligent and drive irresponsibly. However, in spite of the threats of trucks due to their huge size and the irresponsible behavior of some drivers, truck operation will continue to go on due to the major contribution this make in the notion’s economy.
Once a driver earns a CDL, he/she and his/her employer are expected to comply with all federal laws enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation. A few of these laws, which are meant to ensure the safe operation of trucks and the avoidance of road crashes, require:
– Maintenance and regular check of trucks;
– Use of parts, such as tires and brakes, that pass the quality standard set by the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ;
– Strict observance of the hours of service, which is the maximum number or hours drivers are allowed to drive, and the required number of hours of rest;
Despite all the laws, yearly rate of truck accidents remain at 500,000. These accidents result to more than 100,000 injuries and at least, 4,000 deaths. Many studies show that majority of truck accidents can be blamed on drivers of smaller vehicles most of the time; however, this finding is contrary to the findings of the FMCSA, which say that no less than 90% of accidents are the fault of truck drivers.
Contributing factors to truck accidents include driver fatigue, impairment due to alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal drugs, driving too fast despite poor weather or road condition, not being familiar with the road or the truck, inattention and driving distractions, improper way of attaching the trailer, improper loading of cargo, failure to double-check blind spots, and failure to ensure that the brakes are in good working condition.
Truck accidents are more numerous in some states due to the presence of many more trucks in these locations. In the state of Texas, for instance, Dallas truck accident attorneys of The Benton Law Firm confirm that the number of truck accidents have suddenly increased over the recent years due to the recent oil boom which has resulted to more 18-wheelers on the road.
Truck accidents, far more than any other type of automotive accident, can result to catastrophic or fatal injuries, causing many families to face devastating consequences. This is why it is often possible for those who have been injured or killed in a truck accident to take legal action against the party responsible for their suffering.
Effects of Electrocution
Electrocution, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is one of the “fatal four,” or one of the major causes of occupational accidents resulting to injuries and deaths in construction sites. In the whole of U.S., however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) says that it is the fifth leading cause of work-related injuries and deaths. Workers who are most prone to electrocution accidents include electricians, electrical helpers, utility workers, construction workers and those working in manufacturing sites. The highest number of injuries and deaths, however, come from the those who work in construction sites and those whose work is directly involved in the maintenance and repair of overhead power lines. Power line workers often accidentally come in contact with overhead power lines, while in construction sites workers sometimes accidentally get electrocuted by high voltage wires or by arcing or jumping high levels of power from electrically charged cables (high voltage refers to voltage above 500).
The United States Bureau of Labor reports that roughly 150,000 construction site injuries and almost 1,000 fatalities occur every year in the U.S.; about 400 of these fatalities are due to electrocution. Workers, who suffer work-related injuries, though, may be able to receive financial support to help pay for medical bills and other damages. As explained by the firm Abel Law, construction sites need electricity to power different types of tools and equipment. Though needed, this flow of energy can also be dangerous if not handled properly. The following types of faulty products can put a person at risk of electrocution: • Faulty power strips • Faulty power tools • Faulty cords attached to power tools • Faulty extension cords.
The effects of electrocution are always serious because it makes the body a conduit instead of it fending off electricity. As the body becomes a conduit, it allows high voltage of electrical current to cause injuries both inside and outside it, such as severe internal and/or external burns, spinal cord injuries, brain damage, heart attack, muscle damage, paralysis and death. Muscle damage can result to swelling of the limb which, in turn, can lead to “compartment syndrome” (compression of the arteries) wherein blood is prevented from reaching the (affected) limb. Other effects of severe electrical shocks include intense muscle contractions, fatal heart arrhythmia, brain and nerve injuries, serious injuries to internal organs and fall accidents.
The Dram Shop Act: Making Irresponsible Hosts and Business Establishments Equally Accountable for Alcohol-related Accidents, Injuries and Deaths
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) records show that in 2013, more than 1.1 million alcohol-impaired drivers were arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI). During the previous year, a study revealed that the number of those who drove while under the influence of alcohol was 29.1 million. Drunk driving is a major in the U.S. and in all the other parts of the world. This is despite the continuous education and warnings to drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving. Thus, since the early part of the 1900s up to this time, many people drive while impaired and a lot of those who do this cause accidents where they injure or kill not only innocent people on the road (other motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists) but also themselves.
Stricter anti-drunk driving laws today do not just require apprehension of adult drivers (aged 21 years old or above) whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is 0.08% or above, but also of teen drivers (those below 21 years old) if any alcohol is ever traced in their blood or breath.
Once a driver reaches the legal limit of consumption, critical motor functions become impaired and the driver is thus unable to safely operate his/her vehicle to the best of his or her abilities. Thus, besides arresting alcohol-impaired drivers themselves, business establishments and certain individuals can now be held answerable too for certain accidents that are alcohol-related. The legal responsibility of business establishments and certain individuals is rooted on the stipulations of the Dram Shop Act. According to the law firm Habush Habush & Rottier S.C.®, the Dram Shop Act is a law which can make a host or a business establishment (including a restaurant, a bar, or a tavern where alcoholic drinks are sold) accountable for any injuries or damages an intoxicated person causes, but only if such host or establishment still offers or sells alcoholic drinks to such person who is already intoxicated. Civil liability extends to anyone the intoxicated person injures or kills.
Currently, the states of Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, and
Virginia do not have dram shop liability.
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