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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_227581717.jpgWhen you are injured in a car accident, your first thoughts naturally go to the health and safety of yourself and any passengers – especially any children present in the vehicle. If physically able to safely exit the vehicle, a secondary consideration is exchanging insurance information with the other driver(s) and communicating with law enforcement and emergency medical technicians on the scene. While it may not become apparent in the trauma of the moment, the most lasting and consequential damage suffered may be your very ability to work. This is a devastating outcome for people who depend on their physical well being to earn a living. When a car accident changes your position in the world from one of strength to one of vulnerability in a split second, know that the law allows personal injury victims to seek compensation for not just medical bills, but also lost income due to missed work.

Types of Compensation Available to Car Accident Personal Injury Victims

While it is true that the world is becoming more automated (e.g. drones, self-driving cars, travel booking), many occupations still require traditional manual labor. Construction, athletics, landscaping, retail, and the service industries all require able-bodied individuals of good health and with ample energy to perform physical tasks. When a car accident causes injuries, whether temporary or permanent, to a manual laborer, he or she may no longer able to move or lift objects. This outcome is especially detrimental to non-salaried individuals – workers who earn income dollar-by-dollar, hour-by-hour. Fortunately, the law allows for car accident personal injury victims to seek compensation for lost income due to missed work from the individual and/or business responsible for the injury-causing accident.  This compensation is in addition to the monetary damages awarded to cover the cost of medical bills, pain and suffering, and consequences flowing from any short or long-term disabilities resulting from the accident.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_561396394.jpgThe loss of a loved one from an event other than natural causes is a deeply traumatic experience. It is natural to feel profound sadness, anxiety, and even anger – especially if the loss would not have occurred but for the negligent or intentionally wrongful conduct of an individual, business, or institution. Besides these already upsetting emotions, panic may creep in with regard to financial matters, especially if the lost loved one occupied the valuable role of a primary or co-equal income earner. While nothing can undo the trauma of losing a loved one, California’s wrongful death law does offer survivors of a wrongful death victim the opportunity to seek financial compensation from those responsible for the wrongful death and its consequences.   

Types of Deaths Considered Wrongful Under California Law

 The word “wrongful” speaks to both moral and legal culpability for a breach of the duty of personal liberty and bodily integrity owed between all members of society. When this duty is breached so egregiously by intentionally wrongful conduct (e.g. physical violence) or negligence (e.g. drunk driving) that a death results, the death is “wrongful” because the conduct that caused it is wrongful. Specific examples of negligent or intentionally wrongful conduct that constitute bases for wrongful death claims in California include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_337113344.jpgA will is an invaluable resource in ensuring that the assets that comprise your estate will go to the individuals and institutions you wish to benefit after your passing. If there is no will, California’s default rules – the laws of intestate succession – will determine what individuals (family members of increasing remoteness) and will inherit your estate and in what proportions they will inherit.

In some instances, it may be preferable to rely on intestate succession, thereby avoiding the cost and delay of probating a will in probate court. For many people, however, a will brings both precision and peace of mind in the distribution of wealth, property, and heirlooms after death. A will is powerful and a flexible estate planning instrument that is capable of even regulating many distributions over a long time in lieu of a one-time bulk sum. The intra-will device that allows for this is what is known as a “testamentary trust.” If you have young children or relatives, a testamentary trust is something well-worth considering as work in consultation with an estate planning attorney to draft your will.

Planning for the Future of Young Children with a Testamentary Trust

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_730813042.jpgWith spring weather coinciding with crowds of people flocking to California’s patio and garden bars to watch the NCAA Basketball Tournament and other sporting events, the combination of alcohol, tension, and competing team loyalties can lead to verbal and even physical altercations. People often lose sight of the fact that there exists no perceived slight or indignity relating to an event in the sports world that is grounds for assaulting another person.

When flared tensions produce personal injuries or even emotional distress in some instances, there are consequences – in both the state’s criminal courts, and if a personal injury victim so choose, civil courts. If you have been injured in a physical altercation in a California bar or restaurant, whether as an intended victim or mere bystander, you possess the legal right to hold the at-fault party responsible for the harms that you have suffered.

Battery is Both a Crime and a Tort

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1025098705.jpgIt is already so difficult to lose a loved one. When, after the grieving, remembrances, and respects paid, the loved one’s will does not seem to square with his or her stated intentions and wishes with regard to the probate estate, the sense of loss is joined by one of grievance and injustice. While some wills and trusts, though surprising in their dispensation of assets, are perfectly valid, others may be rightly contested on legal grounds for lacking validity. The purpose of this article is to set out the reasons which may render a will invalid upon formal contest in California.

 

Seven Reasons to Contest a Will in California

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_213994996.jpgThe increased size and weight of a truck often bears significantly on the nature and extent of personal injuries suffered in a collision between a truck and car or other vehicle. If you have been injured in such an accident, you know all too well the damage wrought and the time, expense, and personal suffering it will take to get back to the position you were in prior to the accident. Fortunately, the law provides recourse for personal injury victims to seek legal damages in the form of a monetary judgment against the person(s) responsible for the harms inflicted.

Types of Damages Available to Truck Accident Personal Injury Victims

While in some rare case, a truck accident is caused by intentionally wrongful conduct, negligence is a far more common source. A breach of a duty owed that actually causes damages, negligence is what is termed in legal parlance a “tort.” Under California’s Tort Claims Act, tort victims are eligible to sue for money damages in one of the state’s civil courts. In a personal injury suit against a truck driver and/or the driver’s employer, the governing theory of damages is commonly “expectation.” Under this theory, an award of money damages is designed to put the victim in the position he or she would have been in but for the negligence, collision, and harms sustained.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_716712862-1.jpgA personal injury in which the brain suffers a trauma represents a sometimes uniquely difficult challenge in the personal injury law context. This is because, if a traumatic brain injury victim’s memory, speech, or even consciousness have been severely limited, he or she may be unable to recall or speak to the events and persons responsible for the injuries suffered. During this time, medical bills may become astronomical. Worse still, a traumatic brain injury may ultimately result in a wrongful death with the victim losing his or her life as a result of brain damage. In either instance, traumatic brain injury victims and their loved ones so dearly need an advocate for their rights and needs.

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The causes of a traumatic brain injury are all too many and include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_577056850.jpgWhen traveling on California’s roads and highways, a duty of safe driving is owed to all other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. It is this duty that necessitates that one refrain from driving while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications, and illicit substances. Driving while impaired, even if the reckless risk-taking does not actually cause harm to another person, is grounds for arrest and, upon conviction, fines, jail time, community service, license suspension, and the burdensome and costly installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in one’s vehicle. When impaired driving results in an accident in which personal injuries are suffered, those that have suffered harms may hold the impaired driver liable and seek financial damages for the consequences wrought.

Impaired Driving is a Form of Negligence

There is legal term of art for the impaired driving: negligence. Negligence, the breach of a duty owed that actually caused damages, is what is known as a “tort.” In the context of auto accident injuries caused by an impaired driver, the duty is the above-mentioned duty of safe driving. There are many ways to breach this duty (e.g. speeding, swerving, racing), but with regard to driving while under the influence of alcohol, the breach is first measured in terms of blood alcohol content (BAC). In California, it is unlawful to drive with a BAC above .08. It does not take very many drinks for such a measurement (typically obtained via breathalyzer at a DUI stop) to result. Often, even one or two within an hour will suffice. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_186289124.jpgWith so many wildfires wreaking terrible havoc on California’s hillsides over recent months, injuries from burns are a tragic inevitability. These injuries are under-discussed in comparison with other personal injuries, perhaps because of their especially painful and upsetting nature. Burn injury victims, however, must receive treatment and when burns have been suffered due to the negligent or intentionally wrongful conduct of another, compensation for medical bills, lost income due to missed work, pain and suffering, and any short or long-term disabilities. If you have been the victim of a burn injury, turn to an experienced Fremont personal injury attorney.

The Causes of Burn Injuries Are Many

Wildfires are by no means the only cause of burn injuries in California. Some sources are commonplace, such as scalding hot coffee, water, or other liquids in the service industry. Others are more remote, such as burn injuries caused by exposure to certain chemicals. There are also burns inflicted by flash fires such as those that may occur when circuit breaker malfunctions on a construction or industrial site. Still others are the result of a cruel and unexpected chain of events, such as an automotive collision with a gasoline truck.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_130099715.jpg2018 is a year in which to either initiate or revisit the issues of business formation. The stock market is at an all-time high and new tax legislation has been passed. For individuals in business, it is essential to respond to the new legislation with thoughtful business entity selection and careful transaction negotiation, irrespective of government quagmires. This is the case whether you are the owner of a single member LLC or an executive in a traditional corporation. Whatever your personal business needs in planning for the effects of the new tax code, rely on the knowledge of an experienced Fremont business law attorney.

Limited Liability Corporations Are Forecasted to Receive Favorable Treatment

If you are currently receiving income as a traditional employee or freelancer in your capacity as an individual, it may be advantageous to consider registering a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) with the California secretary of state. It is possible for even one person to register an LLC and receive business income through the entity.  In this scenario, the registrant / business owner is typically classified as a “single member” owner of the LLC.  Importantly, an LLC is afforded status as a “pass-through” entity with regard to the taxation of income. Income earned by a pass-through entity is not subject to taxation when the income is passed through from the business to the individual. This is different from income earned by a traditional corporation, which is taxed once on the way out from the business to its shareholders, and then again at the individual level. 

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 b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_563882854.jpgNot all car accidents are the result of driver-related errors, negligence, or intentionally wrongful conduct. Sometimes, fault lies with the vehicle itself—whether in its design, manufacture, or maintenance. Importantly, for victims in accidents caused by vehicle defects, recourse exists just the same as for non-defect-related accidents. Products liability law (rather than negligence or battery) governs this area of auto accidents and allows victims to rightfully seek compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income due to missed work, the cost of vehicle repair or replacement, and when warranted, punitive damages. With the aid of an experienced Fremont personal injury attorney, the existence of a defect can be proven and compensation sought for its adverse consequences.

Manufacturing Defects May Have Dire Consequences

Cars are complex machines, and with California’s roads and highways being lawfully traveled at speeds of 70 mph, injuries and property damage stemming from a vehicle defect-related accident can be severe.  One common type of defect is “unintended acceleration,” which affected Toyota vehicles made in or around 2009 and Audi vehicles in the 1980s. There is the also the problem of tire separation, which, due to poor quality adhesives, caused tire treads to separate while the vehicle was being operated. When tire separation occurred on Ford’s Explorer model vehicle, the result was improper maneuvering and accidents in which serious injuries resulted. 

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Fremond product liability attorneyJust as one may seek compensation from a business, individual, or institution which was responsible for personal injuries suffered, whether these injuries occurred because of negligence or intentionally wrongful conduct, one may seek compensation for injuries caused by a defectively manufactured or designed product. While product-related injuries may not spring to mind as quickly as others in the personal injury law context, such as those resulting from vehicle collisions, construction accidents, or slip-and-falls, they are common, and they represent a valid basis for seeking compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income due to missed work, losses stemming from short- or long-term disabilities, and in some cases, punitive damages.

All Parties in the Retail Chain May Be Held Liable for Injuries Suffered

“How did this happen? How could a dangerous product like this be allowed to be sold in stores?” These are often the first questions that come to mind when one has suffered injuries due to a defective product, whether it be a hair dryer, bottle of cough syrup, lawnmower, toaster, space heater, or literally any other product sold in any store in California and beyond. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design-38.jpgWhether driving to visit family and friends or shopping on busy streets and plazas, the holiday season, with its increased traffic, congestion, activity, and inclement weather is a time of exposure to increased risk of personal injuries. Auto accidents, slip-and-falls (whether as a customer or employee), and mishaps with defective holiday gifts and other products are all possibilities. Injuries, whether short or long-term, can upend not just holiday plans but also one’s employment and educational goals and responsibilities. When you have suffered personal injuries as a result of the negligent or intentionally wrongful conduct of an individual, business, or institution, and experienced Fremont personal injury attorney will advocate for your legal right to compensation for the harms and losses you have suffered.

Negligence is a Common Cause of Personal Injuries

With so many Californians on the state’s roads and highways in late December, there is an increased opportunity for auto accidents – especially when conditions are slick and dangerous on account of rain and low visibility due to fog in the Bay Area or snow in areas of increased altitude and lower temperatures. Importantly, no matter the amount of traffic or severity of the weather, all drivers, whether individual or on-the-job, owe a duty of safe driving to one another. This duty includes driving in accordance with the rules and regulations (e.g. speed limit) of the road and never getting behind the wheel when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications. When this duty is abrogated and an auto accident results, personal injury victims may rightfully seek compensation for injuries and vehicle damage sustained. The legal basis for doing is the tort doctrine of negligence. Negligence is a breach of a duty owed that causes damages. In the auto accident context, the breach is unsafe driving, the duty is that of safe driving, causation is the collision (the accident), and the damages vary depending upon the nature of the accident.  An experienced Fremont personal injury attorney will work to prove the occurrence of each of these elements in one of the state’s civil courts.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design-31.jpgWith the passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act and the Healthcare mandate in limbo, it is a difficult time to make big decisions concerning business, finance, and health in the United States. Whether you are already engaged in commerce or planning your entry into business operations (in California or anywhere in the U.S.), you need to know where you stand financially. That goes for both the present and the future. Taxation is obviously a key part of a business’s financial outlook. As such, it is imperative that you utilize the type of business entity that best suits your individual and business needs and goals with regard to income earned over time. General partnerships, traditional corporations, and the increasing popular and oft-mentioned “limited liability” entities are different in important ways. In discerning the entity that is best for you and your business, rely on an experienced Fremont business law attorney.

A Limited Liability Business Entity is a Pass-Through Business Entity

You may have heard of or are already familiar with “limited liability” entities, such as the Limited Liability Company (LLC) and Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). In such entities, income is not taxed at both the business level and the individual level.  Rather, income earned by the business “passes through” the entity to the individual without being subject to taxation. The individual’s income is subject to taxation.  However, the reporting of income and calculation of taxation on pass-through income factors in business expenses and losses. Depending on the complete picture of profits and losses specific to a given limited liability entity, pass-through income may not be taxed as highly as if the income were employment-based, for example, and not passed through from entity to individual. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design-25.jpgIf you are active in commerce, whether as a part of a sizeable corporation or small business, or merely planning an entrance into the business world, you need to understand how the proposed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will affect your bottom line. The percentage of tax your business will pay, or the percentage that you as an individual will pay on income passed through a business entity, bears on the scale and scope of your yearly operations. In planning for your financial future in business, count on an experienced Fremont business law attorney.

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act Intends to Permanently Lower the Corporate Tax Rate

If you are on the board of a successful large corporation, you will likely benefit from the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. This is because the legislation intends to permanently lower the corporate tax rate from 35% down to 20%. The President has alluded to a compromise in the 22% range, but this remains to be seen. Either way, with the bill in the final conference-related stage, traditional corporations could soon benefit from a substantial decrease in taxes owed. The philosophy behind this at least initially deficit-increasing measure: to encourage business to remain in the U.S., investing savings in expanded domestic operations and the jobs that would propel them, rather than looking abroad.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design-37.jpgToo many individuals associate estate planning with death and in doing so turn away from what is truly valuable instrument of asset protection and financial management. A great place to begin learning about and utilizing estate planning is what is known as a “living trust.” This estate planning resource can allow you to both protect assets from taxation and entanglement in government programs and transfer your estate to your loved ones when the time is right and through a mechanism that bypasses the time and expense of probate. To begin benefiting from estate planning, whether through a living trust, will, or other resource, rely on an experienced Fremont estate planning attorney.

Asset Protection is One Function of a Living Trust

Unlike a will, which becomes effective only upon your death, a living trust is effective while you are living (thus the name “living trust”). For many, a primary reason to create a living trust is to protect assets from taxes and government health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. This form of lawful asset protection is accomplished when legal title is transferred from you (the “Grantor”) to a “trustee.” The trustee holds the assets in trust for those who have selected to benefit from them (the “beneficiaries”).  Importantly, the law even allows for you to be the trustee of your own living trust, which allows you to retain full control of the assets held in the trust. While you are living, whether as both grantor and trustee or merely grantor, the transfer of title from yourself as an individual to a separate trustee or to yourself as trustee facilitates the protection of trust assets from taxes and government health care programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Such asset protection, naturally, allows you to bequeath more to your loved ones and other intended beneficiaries at the time of your death.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_632562152.jpgIf you have saved money and acquired assets, you likely know firsthand the work it takes to do so. To make that work matter as much as it can for as long as it can, you need to engage in intelligent, active estate planning. Broadly speaking, wills and trusts are the core components of estate planning, with your will taking effect upon your death and a trust taking place, depending on its type, before or after your death. A living trust, which can go into effect during your lifetime, may be designed to protect assets from taxation and government healthcare programs such as Medicaid and Medicare—thus allowing you to better protect assets for future generations. To create a living trust in California, contact an experienced Fremont estate planning attorney.

A Revocable Living Trust May Be Altered During Your Lifetime

There are two types of living trusts: 1) a revocable living trust, and 2) an irrevocable living trust. With regard to each, if you are the designer of the trust (i.e. the protector of the assets), the legal term for your role is “grantor.” As the grantor of a revocable living trust, you have the power of revocation (another legal term, for change or alteration). The power of revocation allows you, even after creating the trust and filling it with initial assets, to change the trust’s beneficiaries (those you intend to benefit from the assets of the trust) as well as add or remove assets at your discretion. As such, the flexibility inherent in a revocable living trust functions as a tool of asset management to be utilized while you are alive—looking out for the best interests of family and other loved ones in real time as life happens.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design-8.jpgIt can be traumatic when the loss of a loved one is coupled with shock and surprise over a will that descends the contents of an estate in a way that appears inconsistent with the intentions of the deceased testator. If this scenario has taken the unfortunate turn from hypothetical to real in the wake of the loss of your parent, spouse, child, or other close relative, you may have the option to formally contest the validity of the will in question. In doing so, work closely with an experienced Fremont wills and trusts attorney.

A Will Must Comply With Applicable State Laws to be Valid

Wills and trusts are serious business. As such, a will must comply with all formalities imposed by state law in order to be regarded as valid. For example, the will must be signed by the person whose estate it concerns (the “Testator”). In addition, the Testator’s signing of the will occur in the presence and hearing of two valid witnesses. In most cases, in order to be a valid witness of a will, one must not be a beneficiary of the will. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design-4.jpgWhile northern California’s roads and highways are less inclement weather-afflicted than those of the Midwest and northeastern United States, car accidents are an unfortunate inevitability of daily life and especially during the high-traffic, high-stress periods of holiday travel. While tending the health of your passengers and yourself is obviously the first priority in the aftermath of any auto accident, it is appropriate for subsequent action to concern the issue of compensation for the damage to your vehicle, personal injuries sustained, pain and suffering, lost income due to missed work, and other relevant losses. In matters of representation, an experienced Fremont personal injury attorney is equipped to handle personal injury claims arising from minor to severe injuries.

Types of Car Accident-Related Injuries Eligible for Compensation

Due to the high speeds and heavy weights of cars and other vehicles traveling on northern California’s streets and freeways, injuries sustained in an accident may be severe and include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_648882850.jpgIf you have lost a loved one to the negligent or intentionally wrongful conduct of another, you know that the tragedy is one of continual unfolding. First, there is the shock over a life taken too soon. Then, there is the grief over the loved one’s suffering and the loss of companionship and affection. And at some point for many loved ones of a wrongful death victim, there is the stress and difficulty of facing financial obligations without the income once earned by that victim. This sudden shift in one’s financial foothold in the world, at a time when one is still grieving, is to add tragedy upon tragedy. When mourning and already dealing with funeral and burial expenses, you should not have to be worrying about mortgage payments, medical bills, and other debts and expenses. This is why it is so important for you to know that compensation may be sought by survivors of a wrongful death victim from those responsible for the wrongful death. For sensitive assistance in pursuing wrongful death compensation as you grieve, know that an experienced Fremont wrongful death attorney is there.

Wrongful Death Survivors are Eligible to Seek Compensation

The California Code of Civil Procedure specifies what constitutes a wrongful death, and which survivors of a wrongful death victim are eligible to seek financial compensation in a relevant state civil court. In Chapter four, Article six of the code, the state legislature has defined a wrongful death as “the death of a person caused by wrongful act or neglect of another.” Continuing, the state of California makes clear that certain enumerated individuals related to the decedent (the deceased) have a legal cause of action for the wrongful death in question:

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Willett Law Firm

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Fremont, CA 94538

Phone: 510-791-2244

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