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Binghamton Law Blog: Covering Topics from Personal Injury to Estate Planning Law

Car accidents: Intersection crash kills driver, injures passenger

Whenever New York drivers choose to take to the snowy and icy roads at this time of the year, they must adjust their driving techniques to mitigate the hazards. Even though the city's road crews are out on their plow trucks to treat the roads, car accidents occur when drivers are unable to control their vehicles. Many crash-related injuries and deaths are reported during times of extreme weather conditions.

One such a collision occurred on a recent Thursday morning in Monroe County. According to a report by the sheriff's deputies, a westbound car that was carrying a female driver and a passenger went through an intersection without stopping at the stop sign. A northbound vehicle that was travelling through the crossing at the same time struck that car.

Wills and trusts need to keep up with technological advances

Many people in New York and across the country are moving most of their assets into digital storage. Business interests, financial assets, marketing materials and even photo albums are transferred online. This creates new challenges to ensure digitized assets, which could also include cryptocurrency, are included in wills, trusts and other estate planning documents.

While some digital assets have significant monetary value, others are primarily sentimental. Online photos and emails between loved ones could have considerable sentimental value for surviving family members. In some cases, one person takes charge of emails and bills related to family finances, often without any other family member knowing the different passwords and additional information to get access. If that person dies, services may be disrupted due to unpaid bills, along with other consequences typically associated with nonpayment.

Will legalizing e-scooters in New York cause more car accidents?

Some regard electric scooters as the solution to traffic problems in New York City, and while some city council members brush off the safety concerns, others predict that novice riders will be tempted to take dangerous risks. They believe that many riders will not be able to prevent injuries. A study in another state found that the chances of fatalities on electric scooters are six times higher than in car accidents.

Reportedly, two riders of privately owned scooters lost their lives in Brooklyn in 2018, and another fatal accident on an e-scooter happened in the Bronx. Cities where e-scooters are legally operated by rental companies like Bird and Lime Bike report rising numbers of injuries and fatalities. One city reported that a local intensive care unit treated at least five scooter riders per month, and some of the victims suffered traumatic brain injuries that were life-altering.

Premises liability claims prevalent in the New York winter

Snow and ice are par for the course during the cold New York winters. Property owners -- both commercial and residential -- are responsible for the safety of guests, customers, repair and maintenance workers, delivery people and others who visit their properties. Those who disregard that responsibility might have to face premises liability claims that could turn out to be costly.

Although slip-and-fall accidents occur throughout the year, the presence of hazards involving snow and ice makes this time of the year extra dangerous. Safety authorities say ice is the most significant culprit because it is often invisible. It is not unusual to see somebody jumping out of a car or rushing across a parking lot without thinking about the risk of black ice.

Trusts might be the ideal protection for inheritances in divorce

With many marriages in New York and other states ending in divorce, it is only natural for parents to want to protect their children's inheritances from being subject to property division in a divorce settlement. Some parents find that establishing trusts is the most appropriate way to do this. Including a trust in estate planning can provide peace of mind to a parent who wants his or her child to have something on which to fall back if the marriage should end.

New York is an equitable distribution state in which each property is divided in a fair way if the couple should divorce, but each spouse is entitled to his or her separate property such as property acquired before the marriage or an inheritance. However, if inheritance funds are combined with the jointly-owned assets of the couple, it becomes marital property that will be subject to division. This happens when inheritance is used to fund payments on a car, a house or if it is deposited into a joint bank account.

Wrongful death lawsuit might follow tractor-trailer crash

New York State Police reported a tragic accident on State Route 104 that claimed two lives on a recent Friday. Reportedly, the accident involved a 58-year-old truck driver who operated a tractor-trailer that belongs to a distribution and trucking company that is based in Farmington. The accident reportedly occurred shortly before 9 a.m., and grounds for a wrongful death claim may exist. 

Reportedly, the trucker was eastbound when he lost control of the big rig. The vehicle veered off the roadway and down an embankment where it struck a light pole before hitting two vehicles. The trucker did not survive, and a medical emergency might have caused him to lose control of the vehicle -- a possibility that will be investigated.

Medical malpractice: Butt-lift injections led to deadly embolism

The surviving family members of a woman who died after receiving silicone injections in a butt-lift procedure in New York might have grounds to file a civil lawsuit against the person who performed the procedure. The medical examiner linked this death to silicone injections that caused cardiac arrest. Proof of medical malpractice will not be difficult to show in this case because the unlicensed doctor was convicted on two previous occasions for the unlicensed practicing of the medical profession.

Reportedly, the butt-lift procedure took place at the Bronx home of the unlicensed woman. Police responded to a call to this address last June where they found the patient in cardiac arrest. She was rushed to a hospital, but an embolism caused her death soon after her arrival. The silicone was injected into her thighs and buttocks.

Car accidents: DUI-related crash kills 1, injures 3

A law enforcement spokesperson in New York says 2019 has only just started and already impaired driving has claimed a life. The chief deputy underscored the exacerbated risks of car accidents when drivers consume alcohol and drugs before driving. Although the driver that allegedly caused the death of a passenger will face criminal charges, it will not ease the trauma of the surviving family members.

According to a preliminary crash report, the 22-year-old driver continued to drive straight ahead through a curve in a Monroe County road. Deputies remarked that no tire marks on the roadway indicate that the driver did not try to brake or any attempt to negotiate the curve. They say the car traveled at a high rate of speed and smashed through the concrete barriers, ejecting two of the three passengers.

Agricultural legacy planning requires much more than wills

Farmers in the Binghamton, New York, area may be considering the many years of hard work they put in and how they would deal with passing their legacies on to their successors. Transferring ownership, sharing management and control, and dividing assets require more than drafting wills and sitting back. The dynamics of each family who is involved in an agricultural business are unique, and looking at succession goals without emotion might be challenging.

Different family members and even in-laws often form part of an agricultural enterprise, making family meetings essential. Matters to discuss will include the roles and responsibilities of each person during the transition. It is also crucial to evaluate and prepare the leadership of the next generation. The successful continuance of a legacy often depends on the quality of the communication between all parties.

Patient vigilance might prevent medical malpractice

Although there are conflicting reports about the number of deaths resulting from medical errors each year, authorities agree that only heart disease and cancer claim more lives in New York and other states on an annual basis. To avoid being a victim of medical malpractice, advisers suggest that patients should be vigilant. Understanding as much as possible about treatments and procedures might be the best place to start.

Patients are entitled to ask their physicians questions about the disadvantages, side effects and benefits of suggested procedures and medication, and further information is available online. If there is any uncertainty or concern, it might be wise to get a second opinion to confirm or contradict the initial diagnoses or recommended treatment. If the doctor attempts to discourage the patient from seeking another opinion, it might be a red flag.

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