| Read Time: 3 minutes | Personal Injury

Personal Injury Attorney | Holiday Highway Safety | Young Wooldridge, LLP

TRAVELING TO SEE FAMILY AND FRIENDS THIS SEASON? AVOID DANGEROUS HIGHWAY DISASTERS WITH THESE TIPS For many Americans, the holidays are a time to jump in the family vehicle and make the hike to visit loved ones who live far away. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, long-distance trips (more than 50 miles, one way) increase by 54% over the short Thanksgiving holiday period and by 24% through the Christmas and New Years stretch. About 91% of holiday travel is done by personal vehicle. These facts mean our nation’s major highways are more crowded than usual with travelers who may not be familiar with the roads. Concerns like inclement weather, drowsy driving, distracted driving and, the always dangerous, driving while under the influence are heightened during the holiday season. As an increased number of people crowd onto the roadways, more of these hazardous driving situations become realities. It’s no wonder that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years consistently rank in Deadliest Holiday Lists. Before you gas up for that long drive this year, check out the list below for tips to prepare you for safe holiday travel. Never start a trip after you’ve been drinking. Get some rest and allow your body enough time to return to an alert state before getting behind the wheel for any long, or even short, periods of time. Get a good night’s sleep before a long-distance trip. Drowsy driving is one of the deadliest factors on the road. Don’t make plans to leave straight from work, early in the morning or at times you would otherwise be resting. If you become tired while driving, stop and rest or get some caffeine to wake you up. Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. The potential for multiple car accidents increases in heavy traffic. Maintain safe speeds and distance from the vehicles around you to ensure you have time to stop or space to avoid a collision. A safe rule to stick to is one car length for every ten miles per hour you’re traveling. Don’t be a distracted driver. Distracted driving accidents now make up roughly one-quarter of all traffic accidents. With the widespread use of cell phones and other handheld devices, we are less present behind the wheel than ever before. When you are operating a vehicle, you need to be focused on one thing only: the road. Leave work emails, family texts and GPS directions for your rest breaks and gas stops. Keep your seatbelt on. It is common for drivers or their family members to unbuckle during long drives for comfort. Everyone in the vehicle should wear their seatbelts at all times while the car is in motion. It is no secret that seatbelts save lives, especially in high-speed auto crashes. Maintain your vehicle. Before your trip, take some time to ensure your vehicle’s safety. Check tire pressure, refill washer fluid and test all lights and signals. Make sure that there is nothing lose or hanging from your vehicle. If you should break down while traveling, be sure to pull as far off the road as you can or at a designated rest stop if possible. Be prepared. Map your route before you embark on your trip and be ready for crowded roads. Have emergency roadside assistance information on hand. Keep cell phones charged and handy in the event of an accident. Keep the holidays merry and bright and protect yourself and your loved ones from deadly highway accidents by staying alert and properly preparing for your trip. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact The Personal Injury Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury attorney at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury

Cooking Safety Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is almost here, which means it is time again to join loved ones for a delicious home-cooked meal.  While entertaining family and friends during the holidays can be fun, it is important that we not forget about basic kitchen safety during the festivities. According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are three times more likely on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day of the year.  When preparing your Thanksgiving meal, follow these safety tips from the American Red Cross to ensure that your holiday feast is prepared as smoothly – and safely – as possible! Before Cooking Begins: Start the day off by making proper attire choices. Cooks should avoid loose clothing and dangling sleeves while preparing food. Test all smoke alarms in the home and replace batteries, if necessary. Smoke alarms should be located near the kitchen, on each level of the home, and near sleeping areas. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Contact a local fire department to learn about the proper use of fire extinguishers. While in the Kitchen: Check food regularly and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on. Be sure to stay in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you are simmering, baking roasting or broiling food, remain in the home. Keep all flammable items away from the stove, oven, or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat. This includes pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or even curtains. Children should stay away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free” zone and have kids stay at least three feet away from the stove. After You Have Finished: Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off. Don’t forget to include these Thanksgiving safety tips on your menu to reduce the risk of injury to you and your loved ones.  Happy Thanksgiving from Young Wooldridge, LLP! 

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Business Law

Simple Explanation of Business Formations | Business Law

A SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF BUSINESS FORMATIONS Starting a business can be a rollercoaster of emotions: excitement to finally be building your dream, fear of financial instability and then, the uncertainty of the legal aspects of your new endeavor may sink in. Consulting a business law attorney can help you make sense of your legal obligations as a business owner as well as aid in setting up your business in the way that makes the most financial sense for your situation. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can spend more time in the excitement and less time in the uncertainty of your business. One of the first things to consider when you’re ready to start your business is its formation. There are four basic forms your business can take, each with different financial considerations for your personal assets as well as various obligations where taxes are concerned. Below you will find a list of these four business forms and a brief explanation of each. Sole Proprietorship In a sole proprietorship, you are the exclusive owner of your business. This is the simplest and least expensive type of business to form. Depending on your occupation, your state or county may require you to hold a business license to operate. Otherwise, there are no incorporation documents to file. You can do business under your name or apply for a DBA (doing-business-as) if you want to operate your business under a different name. Protection: As a sole proprietor, you have no personal protection from lawsuits or creditor claims. Your personal assets can be seized to satisfy your business debts. Taxes: Sole proprietors report business income and expenses to the IRS on a Schedule C when filing individual income tax returns. Partnership Other than a partnership agreement, there are no documents to file with your state when forming a Partnership. Your partnership agreement states how your business operates and how the profits and losses are shared. As many partnerships are formed between friends, it is advisable to have a business law attorney help you create the partnership agreement so everyone is well informed of the specifics of your agreement. Protection: In most states, each partner in a partnership has unlimited liability. This means debts, lawsuits and the action of the one partner become the responsibility of all partners. Taxes: The business entity must file a partnership information return with the IRS each year. Profits and losses are reported on each partner’s individual income tax return. Limited Liability Company (LLC) Any business owner may form a limited liability company by filing articles of organization or a certificate of formation. Owners of an LLC are known as members and can number as small as one member. This is a common business formation since it offers more protection of personal assets and less risk to the business owner. Protection: When you take on debt or open a bank account as an LLC, the LLC itself is responsible for the accounts rather than the members. Profits and losses flow through the company to each member. Taxes: LLC members decide upon formation if they want to be taxed as a corporation or a partnership. LLC’s filing as partnerships file the partnership tax returns. LLC’s filing as corporations must file taxes either as a C corporation or S corporation. A qualified business law attorney can help you decide what the proper filing method is for your LLC. Corporation The most formal of the business formations is the Corporation. It is also the most expensive. Your business law attorney will help you file Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State. There are more rules governing ownership of corporations than any other form. For example, only U.S. citizens can be owners. In an S corp, there cannot be more than 100 owners and those owners must be individuals, not partnerships or other corporations. Corporations must conduct annual meetings and file annual reports in their incorporating state. Protection: Owners in a corporation have limited liability protection meaning their personal assets cannot be used to satisfy debts owed by the corporation. Taxes: Profits and losses are retained at the corporate level in a C corp but are subject to double taxation. Simply put, this means that owners are taxed on their earnings and shareholders are taxed on corporate dividends. Most often, the owners are the shareholders. Both C and S corporations file corporate tax returns, annual reports and are obligated to meet federal and state record-keeping requirements. A business law attorney at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have. If you have questions or need help forming your business, contact The Business Law Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Estate Planning

Durable Powers of Attorney: Does Your Estate Plan Need an Extra Layer of Protection?

This article was originally published in the August/September 2017 issue of Kern Business Journal A few months ago my car broke down. As you can imagine, this was very frustrating because I still needed to get my kids to school and myself to work.  Fortunately, I decided a year earlier to pay for an extended warranty. At the time I thought to myself, “Do I really want to pay for something I hope I will never have to use?” Well, a tow truck, a rental car, a new transmission, a new thermostat, and a new water pump later I was sure glad I made the investment. Our bodies are a little bit like cars. Eventually, some parts may start to wear down, but with modern advances in medicine and technology, many of us are living longer than the generations that preceded us. An unexpected consequence arising from longer life spans is that now it is possible for our bodies to outlive our minds. Fortunately, Durable Powers of Attorney can be created as a layer of protection if a person is unable to make good decisions and competently handle their affairs. These documents allow that person, named the “principal” in Durable Power of Attorney documents, to grant a trusted agent the authority to handle legal matters on their behalf. In doing so, they prevent the need for lengthy and expensive court proceedings associated with the creation of a conservatorship. There are two primary types of Durable Powers of Attorney that are executed as part of a comprehensive estate plan: Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management gives the designated agent authority to make legal and financial decisions on behalf of the principal. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care gives the designated agent authority to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal. It is important to explain to your designated agent(s) the significance of these documents and their responsibility to act on your behalf, if necessary. Many people choose to designate the same agent for both documents, but different agents may be designated if desired. Agents should be identified and legal documents should be prepared long before the principal starts facing challenges handling certain aspects of life. Durable Powers of Attorney can provide trusted agents and families with guidance on a number of issues including the management of assets and guidance for medical professionals on the principal’s care preferences. They can also cover important areas such as retirement plan elections and continued receipt of insurance benefits. A comprehensive estate plan with proper Durable Powers of Attorney in place can protect your assets from unnecessary taxation and allow you to provide gifts in a timely manner to your intended heirs. Like an extended warranty for your car, a Durable Powers of Attorney as part of your estate plan can provide peace of mind for you and your family because of the protection they provide for you, your heirs, and the assets you’ve worked so hard to save. Kevin M. Danley is an attorney at Young Wooldridge, LLP, who focuses his practice on estate planning and probate, will and trusts, as well as business formation, contracts and transactions.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Personal Injury

Tips for a Happy and Safe Fourth of July

It’s safe to say that the Fourth of July is one of America’s favorite holidays.  And how could it not be?  Each year, we celebrate America’s birthday with great food, fireworks, and plenty of red, white and blue.  However, while you are busy celebrating with family and friends, fire and law enforcement officials are busy responding to the increase in incidents that will occur during the holiday. Don’t forget to keep these important safety tips in mind to keep your festivities fun and accident-free. The American Red Cross has provided the following safety tips to protect you and your loved ones for a happy – and safe – Fourth of July! HIGHWAY SAFETY Millions of people will be on the highways over the Fourth of July weekend. Here are five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling: Do not drink and drive. Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits. Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text. Use caution in work zones. Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather. FIREWORKS SAFETY The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are five safety steps for people setting fireworks off at home: Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.” Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. GRILLING SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue: Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire. Use the long-handled tools specially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe. WATER SAFETY If your holiday plans include water fun, follow these tips to help stay safe: Do your part, be water smart! Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Adults: actively supervise children; stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. And kids follow the rules. Don’t fool with a pool: fence it in. Enclose your pool and spa with four-sided, four-foot fencing and use self-closing, self-latching gates. Don’t just pack it; wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket – always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level. Inflatable children’s toys and water wings can be fun, but they are no substitute for a life jacket and adult supervision. Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair – everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. Reach or throw, don’t go! Know what to do to help someone in trouble, without endangering yourself; know how and when to call 9-1-1, and know CPR. Follow these general safety tips to ensure you and your loved ones enjoy the holiday under safe conditions. Even when practicing safety and care during your celebration, it is still possible for accidents to happen. If you or a loved one is injured due to the negligence of another, contact the Personal Injury Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP for a free initial consultation to learn your options.   

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| Read Time: 1 minute | Personal Injury

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

The month of May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.  This month is a reminder to motorists to safely “share the road” with motorcycles and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe.  Motorcyclists are also reminded to make themselves visible to all motorists.  While the rate of automobile fatalities has slowed or declined in recent years, the number of motorcyclists and their passengers injured and killed each year continues to climb. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of motorcyclists killed in California has increased steadily for the past four years. In 2012, there were 435 motorcycle fatalities. Motorcycles, like bicycles, are a unique and popular form of transportation in California. Still, the unprotected nature of these vehicles leaves their drivers and riders vulnerable to disabling injury and death. If you ride a motorcycle, consider these points before you head out: Be seen: Wear bright, reflective clothing at all times of the day and night. Drive safe: Make sure your bike is properly maintained. If you are under 21, you must complete a motorcycle rider training course. If you are over 21, consider taking the course to refresh your safety skills. Do not drive impaired or distracted: Statistics show that the percentage of intoxicated motorcycle riders in fatal crashes is greater than the percentage of intoxicated drivers on our roads. All motorists, regardless of vehicle, are at risk if driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, fatigue or distraction. Drive defensively: Assume cars and trucks do not see you. Give yourself extra time and space and approach intersections with caution. Regardless of your driving skill, serious accidents happen. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, speak with an experienced injury attorney at Young Wooldridge, LLP.   Photo Credit: James Mann via Flickr Creative Commons

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. In fact in 2013 alone, 3,154 people were killed and an estimated 424,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes that attributed to distracted driving. Over 400,000 Injuries Per Year Due To Distracted Driving Unfortunately, many drivers engage in a number of distracting activities from talking and texting on their cell phones, to eating, grooming, and even reading. While those distractions are completely avoidable, some distractions are nearly impossible to prevent and instead must be managed. Here are some tips from the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) that will help you avoid distracting activity while driving.   Turn it off and stow it. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Then stow it away so that it’s out of reach. Spread the word. Record a message on your phone that tells callers you’re driving and will get back to them when you’re off the road, or sign up for a service that offers this feature. Pull over. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first. Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call or respond to a text for you. X the Text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It’s dangerous and against the law in most state. Even voice-to-text isn’t risk-free. Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones in addition to texting. Destination then drive. If using a GPS device, enter your destination before you start to drive. If you prefer a map or written directions, review them in advance. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to assist you or pull over to a safe location to change your GPS or review your map/directions. Secure your pets. Unsecured pets can be a big distraction in the car. Mind the kids. Pull over to a safe place to address situations involving children in the car. Focus on driving. Multi-tasking behind the wheel is dangerous. Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road. Every time you get behind the wheel, you are at risk of an accident.  Following these guidelines will help you minimize the risk of being distracted while driving and keep your full attention on the road. Personal Injury Attorneys Keeping Distracted Drivers Accountable If you or a loved one has been injured due to a distracted driver, it is important to learn your options from an experienced Bakersfield personal injury attorney. Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at Young Wooldridge, LLP for a free initial consultation. Photo Credit: NHTSA Traffic Safety Marketing

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury

Personal Injury Attorney | The Importance of Consultations

The legal process requires injured plaintiffs to prove their damages within a certain degree of certainty which means you could use a personal injury attorney. This means that juries cannot simply pick a number they think is fair. It also means they cannot simply guess what happened when the facts are in dispute. In many cases, expert witnesses are necessary to fill these gaps. By extension, this means that expert personal injury attorney consultations are an essential tool during pretrial negotiations to demonstrate to the defense what can be expected at trial and promote a settlement. California’s evidence code allows individuals with demonstrable knowledge, skill, experience, training or education to provide opinion testimony on matters relevant to a particular case. In the context of personal injury, this can include several types of testimony: Medical professionals can testify as to any injuries or illnesses the plaintiff suffered, the disabilities such conditions would cause and whether such condition can be linked to the accident. Accident reconstructionists can testify as to how an accident was likely to have occurred, especially when eyewitness testimony is unavailable, conflicted or inconclusive. Construction and safety experts can testify in premises liability cases as to the presence of unsafe conditions. Vocational experts can testify as to how a plaintiff’s injuries affect earning capacity. Economists can testify as to the long-term losses an injury could cause. Knowing what personal injury attorney experts are best suited to address the issues of a particular case is an important skill for attorneys. Likewise, having a professional network of experts who are respected in their fields and are known for thorough work and sound analysis is crucial to the success of a Bakersfield personal injury law firm. If you have questions after you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact the Personal Injury Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP for a free initial consultation. Schedule a free initial consultation with the knowledgeable Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Young Wooldridge, LLP to learn more. Call today for a confidential consultation – 661.327.9661 Like us on Facebook for more information.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury

Risks of Texting & Driving | Personal Injury Attorney

Risks of Texting & Driving | Personal Injury Attorney Personal Injury Attorney | There is universal agreement that texting and driving is a deadly activity. A recent study released by Car and Driver Magazine shows that texting while driving is actually a far riskier activity than drunk driving. To study this, the magazine rigged a car with a light that alerted drivers of when to brake. It then tested them under a variety of conditions, including when fully alert and sober, when drunk and when engaged with their cell phones. The safest activity was, unsurprisingly, the sober and alert driving. However, the texting drivers performed far worse than their drunk counterparts. On average, it took drivers an additional 70 feet to brake when they were texting and driving as compared to those who were sober and cell-phone free. The results of the study are in line with findings by the National Traffic Safety Administration, which has found that texting while driving is upwards of six times more dangerous than drunk driving. When a driver is texting, he or she takes his or her eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If traveling at 55 mph, this is the amount of time it takes to travel the length of a football field. Texting and driving kills and injures people every year. On average, 3,000 people die and an additional 333,000 are injured from this activity. Victims are not just those who are using their phones, but also the innocent people with whom they share the road. It is important for everyone to be careful behind the wheel. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, such as texting and driving, you may have the right to legal compensation. Schedule a free initial consultation with the knowledgeable Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Young Wooldridge, LLP to learn more. Call today for a confidential consultation – 661.327.9661 Like us on Facebook for more information.

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