VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Crystal River Florida Legal Blog

Faulty air bags can cause serious injuries

Regular visitors to our blog appreciate that we address a wide array of issues, including injuries due to faulty air bags. Concerns over faulty Takata air bags have been noted as far back as 2015.

These concerns have grown each year to the point where the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says about 70 million units are under recall around the world. This affects nearly two dozen vehicle brands. And just this week, Ford announced it is recalling nearly 1 million more vehicles.

Estate planning includes much more than asset distribution

Many believe the only goals of estate planning are to account for an individual's assets, and the distribution of a person's estate to intended heirs and beneficiaries. A comprehensive view of estate planning encompasses a broad scope of matters - including questions about end-of-life wishes.

"Death with dignity" is an issue receiving much attention these days. As baby boomers advance into their senior years, many confront those "what if" questions due to the unanticipated decline in their quality of life. There are provisions in current law that support limited personal choice in end-of-life situations, but such choices must be legally documented.

Fatal motor vehicle accidents require vast legal experience

Most of us regularly spend part of each day driving, or riding in, a motor vehicle. We don't begin our day thinking we could be the victim of a fatal motor vehicle accident. Dwelling on that could lead us to retreat from the world.

It is also unwise to go through life denying an accident could unexpectedly end your life, or that of a loved one. Attorneys and financial planners recommend solid estate planning to be prepared for an unexpected or untimely death. Vast legal experience is required to make the connections between estate planning, estate administration, and wrongful death.

While some types of legal practice are funneled into the practice of specific areas of the law, there are strong points of intersection between other specific areas. Estate planning, estate administration, and the pursuit of wrongful death or personal injury compensation represent examples of overlapping areas of law.  It is to the benefit of distraught families to engage one firm to effectively bridge the legal requirements of the probate and civil courts when a loved one suffers a fatal motor vehicle accident.

Lawsuit suggests risks exist even when there's no car accident or collision

You don't have to be involved in a car accident or collision to be at risk of serious personal injury when you are on the road. Whether driving across Florida from east to west, or from north to south, danger exists if a defective part in your vehicle fails without warning.

This happens more often than you might think. As we noted in a recent blog post, in 2017 alone the number of vehicle recalls hit an astounding 42 million - 2018 has been somewhat better. As of last month, about 29 million vehicles were under recall. But based on recent news reports, an update to those numbers may be in order. In fact, if a story by the ABC affiliate in Tampa Bay is accurate, it's possible that some of the problems being reported lately might be the result of repairs made as a result of previous recalls.

Motorcyclists benefit from cell phone bans

We all know that distracted driving causes traffic accidents, many of which result in serious personal injury or even death. The stakes are very high for motorcycle riders who have nothing more to protect them in an accident than a helmet. However, there is some positive news. States that have passed strong bans on cell phone use while driving have also seen motorcycle rider fatality rates drop by up to 11 percent. Studies find a real connection between stronger laws and saving lives.


Create a solid estate plan through use of a trust

One of the main reasons to create a solid estate plan is to make the vision you have for your legacy a reality. A key tool in estate planning is often some form of trust. Assets are accumulated in the instrument, and the subsequent distribution of that wealth occurs within the strict rules you lay out as the creator of the trust. In many instances, the trust may have a provision that calls for its termination. But what if the conditions that prompted the creation of the trust change before the anticipated end date?

It is possible to change terms or even end a trust, but the conditions under which such actions can be taken are restricted by Florida law. Depending on the type of trust involved, the modification, reformation or termination of a trust may be possible non-judicially, which means you won't need to go to court to do so. If the legal requirements for non-judicial means can't be met, it may be possible to seek changes through the courts. But again, the type of trust and the circumstances dictate the options.

What's ancillary probate and do I need to care?

Florida is a very popular place, attracting visitors from all over the U.S. and the world. Many of those visitors purchase real estate in one form or another, allowing them to take advantage of the temperate climate in Florida when the weather at home is too harsh to tolerate.

A non-resident Florida land owner can enjoy the benefits of the out-of-state property ownership, but their remaining family members may eventually face challenges in the context of estate administration in the event of their death. For example, Florida law states that when a non-resident property owner dies and probate is filed in his or her home state, a similar proceeding called ancillary probate may be necessary in Florida. Skilled counsel will handle any potential complications with ease. Be sure to discuss your particular needs when it comes to ancillary probate and contact attorneys who handle these matters every day.

The investment mandate: The check and balance in trust management

Pensions are largely a thing of the past. 401(k)s and Social Security are now foundational elements of a solid retirement plan. If you are among those in Florida with significant assets, establishing a trust is another legal tool for protecting wealth and maximizing its value to you and others you might choose.

While 401(k)s and trusts are different in form, they have some similarities. For example, if you have a 401(k), one of the first steps you likely took setting it up was establishing the parameters of expected performance based on your risk tolerance. High risk aversion would suggest more conservative investments. The investment mandate would be the most likely parallel in the context of trusts.

Holiday season safety by the numbers

It seems to have happened in the blink of an eye, but ready or not, the holiday season is beginning. In fact, in law enforcement circles the Thanksgiving weekend begins tonight with what is known as Black Wednesday.

Tonight’s ominous moniker is derived from the fact that attendance is bars is heavy on the night before Thanksgiving, which means, of course, that there will likely be an abnormally high rate of motor vehicle crashes and injuries caused by drunk drivers.

U.S. seeing hundreds of auto recalls a year

Recalls and auto product liability can affect millions of vehicle owners. The recalls from 2017 covered over 42 million vehicles, while the recalls from 2018 have thus far covered over 29 million vehicles.

Defective auto parts can increase accident risks, may leave occupants more vulnerable to harm should crashes occur, and often cause serious personal injuries. Recalls can play a very important role in getting defects addressed before they cause harm connected to auto product liability.

However, there are certain factors that can keep recalls from fully serving this purpose. One is when automakers drag their feet on recalling vehicles over safety defects. The longer that recalls are unnecessarily delayed, the longer consumers could be exposed to potentially harmful auto defects. How automakers act when it comes to recalls matters considerably.

Another issue related to recalls is that recalled vehicles are sometimes never repaired. Auto recalls have far from perfect completion rates here in the United States. Such rates tend to be even lower for older vehicles. One thing leading to a recall repair not being made is a consumer not realizing that a vehicle has been recalled because a recall notice got lost in the shuffle. Vehicle owners need to keep an eye out for recall notices and regularly check to see if any of their vehicles are subject to a recall.

What do you think of the current state of auto recalls in the U.S.? Are there any changes you would like to see when it comes to such recalls to reduce the instances of auto product liability?

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