Personal Liability Protection

Expanding Liability
More Litigation in the expanding of Personal Liability
More and more law suits are being filed in the United States in ever expanding areas of litigation. Last year approximately one million attorneys filed twenty million law suits in the USA. Nearly 95% of the law suits on the planet are filed in this country. 10 seconds of inattention can result on a damage award in excess of any liability insurance you might think would be adequate. In addition liability coverage, particularly professional liability is becoming more and more expensive for less and less coverage.

Your Financial Fortress
Insulate assets from those who may try and claim them in the future.
It is a critical time for moderate net worth individuals who may be perceived as having "deep pockets". Jury awards in excess of $1 million dollars have hit a record and lawsuits have been expanded to ensnare many people who previously would not be considered liable, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York. In some cases litigants (people who believe they have been wronged) sue whomever has "deep pockets". If you have a home, savings account, and insurance, that deep pocket could be you.
Compounding the dangers are the legal fees which can balloon out of control and, customarily, you pay for your own legal defense regardless of the verdict. A comprehensive asset protection program could not only help protect your personal assets from the ravages of an adverse judgement but could also minimize the costs associated with your legal defense. Furthermore, should you never be sued, a properly devised program should return your money to you at retirement, plus interest.

Liability of Employee
It was reported that last fall three biologists who are employed by California Department of Fish & Game recommended the poisoning of Lake Davis to rid the region of the voracious Northern Pike. The concern was the Pike would negotiate the Lake Davis Dam and find their way into the California Delta and decimate the region's Salmon industry.
Local Residents and environmental groups fiercely objected to the poisoning stating not only did the lake provide the area with drinking water, but also attracted tourist dollars. The Fish & Game retorted claiming the poisoning of the lake was the only alternative and the coming winter freeze would quickly kill all the poisonous elements.
Well, to the dismay of all, when Spring arrived the poison was still around. There was no Trout for the tourists and no drinking water for the locals. So, on behalf of the residents, Plumas County filed a lawsuit not only against the Department of Fish & Game but also the individual biologists.
Generally, a lawsuit of this nature is filed against the employer - in this case the Department of Fish & Game - not the individual biologists. The fact that each individual biologist was named personally in the lawsuit means each biologist could be forced to pay his or her own attorney's fees, as well as any judgment should they lose.
Certain professions such as architects, contractors, dentists, doctors, attorneys, engineers, and the like often hold more liability than others. However, this lawsuit, which in essence is holding individual employees responsible for their actions, clearly demonstrates the discouraging fact that no one is immune from potential devastating litigation.

Liability of Dentists for Tooth Brush Abrasion?
A recent newspaper article reported the filing of a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer of tooth paste and dental associations for failing to warn the public of the harmful effect of "tooth brush abrasion". This area of litigation very well may expand across the entire dental profession.

Health Care
Your DPAHC may have expired.

Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHCs ) drafted and signed in California prior to 1992 may have included a seven year term limit. (Those who have become incapacitated during the seven-year term are exempt from the term limit.) In addition, some DPAHCs signed after 1991 may also contain language which causes expiration after seven years

The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care gives a third party the authority to make health care decisions for you in the event you become unable. If you have a DPAHC it would be prudent to carefully review the document for term limits or expiration dates.

Public Administrator Intervention
Your need to nominate representatives
In an alarming number of cases recently the Public Administrator's Office has asserted their legal right of control and intervention over an individual who is unable to handle the affairs for themselves or their minor children, even when there are spouses and next of kin that wish to assume these responsibilities. From my experience, the way this happens is that hospitals, social workers or mental health workers are required to seek approval for care from an authorized source. The loved one may be at the side of their disabled relative, however, without legal documentation that the disabled individual nominates them, they are unable to act on the behalf of the disabled without prior Court approval. Health workers must look to the Public Administrator's Office for the decision regarding treatment and payment, since the Public Administrator's Office can readily gain control of all assets and business records of the disabled person. Often, when the disability is due to an accident, there may be insurance coverage or settlements to be managed. Keep in mind that the County Counsel represents the Public Administrator and both are paid from the funds of the disabled person. The resources of the disabled are also used to bring Court actions or defend against loved ones seeking jurisdiction over the disabled person. Wasteful and unnecessary stress could have been avoided with the completion of proper documentation.

Recommendation to consider Asset Preservation
In addition to planning your estate for the purpose of avoiding unnecessary expenses for your loved ones by court involvement, unnecessary taxes and public scrutiny of your affairs, it is recommended that one build a hedge of protection around some portion, if not all, of your assets to prevent the total ravages of a zealous enforcement of a runaway judgment.

Regardless of what life may bring, most of us want to maintain control over our own decisions, keep our private business under our own control, our private affairs out of the courts and public records and protect our loved ones. This office can assist you in all areas of legal documentation regarding matters discussed herein.

For your piece of mind and the protection of yourself and your loved ones, I urge you to consider these legal safeguards.

Disclaimer: These materials are presented for general information purposes only and are not intended nor should they be construed as suggesting or providing legal advice for your individual situation

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