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Important Limitations of a Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust can make estate planning much smoother, but it comes with its limitations. While such a trust can have a huge impact on minimizing probate involvement when you pass away, it comes with limitations many are unaware of when going into their estate planning.

Here are some of the top myths regarding revocable living trusts that many people seem to believe.

Probate Can Be Fully Avoided with a Living Trust

This is the most commonly believed myth and can be the most damaging. Probate court procedures are, unfortunately, not fully avoidable. However, they can be significantly minimized with a proper living trust. In Connecticut, keeping your assets out of probate will lead to much less paperwork being filed, including the estate tax return, but there will still have to be some probate court involvement.

Estate Tax Can Be Avoided with a Living Trust

A living trust can certainly be made to include provisions that will address estate tax planning, but the same can be accomplished with a well thought out last will and testament. In Connecticut, the current estate tax exemption is $2 million.

Probate Court Fees Can be Avoided

It makes sense to think if you sort out your own affairs, the court won’t have fees. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even if none of your assets go through probate, there will still be a charge based on the size of your estate. This includes all non-probate assets. While it is called a court fee, it operates much more similarly to a tax, which is how the probate court system is funded.

My Assets Will Be Protected if I End Up in a Nursing Home

Unfortunately, assets in a typical living trust are not protected from a nursing home or even other creditors. If this is the goal for your living trust, there are other types of trusts that could be used instead that better address your specific needs.

If you are considering a living trust but aren’t sure where to start, we can help. Our Elder Law attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Personal Injury Lawyers can help from start to finish, and educate you on the best estate planning and trusts for your individual needs. Contact us today for a free consultation.


Common Medical Errors Made by Doctors and Hospitals

Sometimes unhappiness with a course of treatment for your ailments can be due to more than just a difference in style and bedside manner. When a medical error leads to the worsening of your condition, or an entirely new malady, you may be entitled to compensation. Knowing the common medical errors that are awarded compensation can help a victim decide whether it’s time to pursue legal action.

Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Many medical malpractice complaints stem from misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis that led to bigger problems. For a successful malpractice case, it must be proven a reasonably skilled doctor who was acting competently would not have made the same diagnosis error.

Childbirth Injuries

There are many fetal injuries that are considered childbirth injuries. These can happen either before or after birth. Generally, childbirth injuries are classified under two categories.

  • Negligence in prenatal care. Negligence can affect a child at any point in a pregnancy. This includes:
    • not identifying birth defects
    • delayed or not diagnosing a disease that could be transmitted to the fetus
    • not identifying an ectopic pregnancy
    • failing to diagnosis a medical condition that affects the mother such as anemia or gestational diabetes
  • Negligent childbirth care. When a doctor’s negligence during childbirth leads to injury, it can have devastating effects. Common errors include:
    • failure to anticipate issues due to a baby’s large size or a tangle umbilical cord
    • not responding to fetal distress
    • not ordering a necessary cesarean section
    • improper or incompetent use of forceps

Medication Errors

When a patient receives too much or too little of a medication when a reasonable physician would not have made the error, there could be serious harm. Examples of medication errors include:

  • Incorrect dosage written on prescription
  • A correct prescription being improperly filled by a nurse
  • Equipment malfunction causing improper administration of drug
  • In a hospital, receiving another patient’s medication

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors can be among the most dangerous of medical errors. Examples of this type of mistake include:

  • Not properly reviewing patient history
  • Not properly informing patient of the risks
  • Giving too much anesthesia
  • Not monitoring vital signs
  • Improper intubating
  • Defective equipment

If you feel your physician did not use proper care, contact one of our Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers. We will review your case and help you take the first steps toward compensation for your pain and suffering.


Active Ingredient in Actos Still Being Linked to Bladder Cancer

 Actos is a medication that is prescribed to regulate blood sugar levels in those who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Though the drug has been on the market for almost twenty years, its use is extremely controversial because its long term use has been linked to a number of serious health complications. Among these is an increased risk of bladder cancer. This has led to numerous personal injury Actos lawsuits being filed against the company’s manufacturer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requiring that the drug’s label include a warning about the risk. Though Takeda has argued that their medication is safe, pointing to some studies that indicate that there is no causal link between the drug’s active ingredient and bladder cancer, more recent studies have continued to suggest a link.

The active ingredient in Actos is pioglitazone. Since concerns have been raised about the link between pioglitazone and bladder cancer, the FDA has asked Takeda to perform a 10-year study of their drug. In addition to reviewing interim results of this study, the agency has also reviewed other studies that have been done since the Actos lawsuits began to be filed, and these results have continued to point to a link. One study published in the BMJ in early 2016 reported a 63% higher risk for bladder cancer following patients being treated with pioglitazone. That study indicated that the longer the medication was taken and the higher the dose, the greater the risk. Another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine identified an additional source of concern. Patients taking the medication were shown to gain more weight, experience water retention and swelling, and be at higher risk for serious bone fractures leading to surgery or requiring hospitalization.

As a result of these negative studies and in spite of some other research drawn from a 10-year study drawn from the database of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, the FDA has indicated that they continue to believe that there may be a link between pioglitazone and an increased risk for bladder cancer, and that they plan to order that the medication’s labeling add the newer study results to its list of warnings.

Prior to the FDA’s intervention, Takeda Pharmaceutical’s own preclinical trials had already shown that in animal studies there was evidence of a link between the medication and bladder tumors. There have been thousands of Actos lawsuits filed against the drug manufacturer, as well as against its partner Eli Lilly, seeking compensation for the damages suffered by those who were prescribed the drug and who were later diagnosed with bladder cancer. Individuals have been awarded millions of dollars in jury trials and in April 2015 the company settled thousands of bladder cancer claims for over $2 billion dollars. If you have been harmed by Actos, the attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers can help. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.


What are the Differences Between a Manufactured Defective Product and a Designed Defective Product?

 Products that cause injuries to consumers are frequently the subject of legal claims for compensation. These claims are known as defective product or product liability lawsuits, and they are based on the notion that a manufacturer, designer, and supplier of a product has a legal obligation to exercise a duty of care to those who are purchasing their goods. In proving a defective products case, the plaintiff – or person who suffered the harm and who is filing the lawsuit – has to prove a few different things. They have to prove that the product was defective; they have to prove that they suffered some kind of damages or injury; and they need to prove that the product was the proximate cause of their injury. Adding to the complexity of the items that need to be proven, there are a few different generally accepted types or causes of defective products that the justice system has identified. Among these are defects in the manufacturing process, defects in the design of the product, and defects in the warning or instructional information that was provided to the consumer with the product. Though the last of these is relatively easy to understand, the difference between a manufactured defective product and a designed defective product can be more opaque. We’ll try to explain the difference.

When a product is determined to have a manufacturing defect, it means that something went wrong while the item was being fabricated. Perhaps the materials that were used were carcinogenic, or perhaps a screw was not sufficiently tightened and that caused the parts to come loose. Examples of manufacturing product defects would include medical devices designed to be implanted in the body that wear down or break, or food that sickens people as a result of contamination with bacteria during the manufacturing process.

By contrast, a product whose design is deemed defective is inherently dangerous before it ever reaches the manufacturing stage. One of the most famous examples of this is that of the Ford Pinto, a vehicle whose fuel system was designed in such a way that it would explode when the vehicle was involved in a rear-end collision.  What made the Ford case particularly egregious was the fact that the auto manufacturer was aware of the vehicle’s dangers but elected to sell the vehicle anyway. They made a cost-benefit decision weighing the value of having to pay a few lawsuits versus making a change to the automobile’s design. The jury’s original award in one of the many defective product cases filed against it was the largest against an automaker at that time.

As a consumer, you have no need to identify at what point a product’s life cycle negligence took place. All you need to do is focus on your own health and put the legal aspects into the hands of a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury as a result of a defective product, call the attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers today to learn more about how we can help.


How Does Mandatory Arbitration Limit Your Ability to Sue Nursing Homes?

 Nobody wants to get involved in a lawsuit. This is partially because – obviously – nobody wants to suffer an injury that is worthy of filing a claim, and partially because the process can be stressful. Still, there is a certain level of comfort that we each have in knowing that if the worst happens, we have the American justice system available to help us right wrongs. Unfortunately, that sense of security may end up being ripped out from under people who have loved ones residing in nursing homes.

At issue is an ongoing case regarding a common practice of nursing homes – requiring that residents sign off on admissions contracts requiring that they waive their rights to pursue legal action against them in cases of nursing home injuries or abuse and instead resolve disputes and claims in arbitration proceedings.  This language is often hidden deep within the fine print of the contracts that are presented to infirm or elderly residents or their family members at a point when they are feeling most vulnerable, and even desperate, to find appropriate living arrangements or care.  It has served to benefit the nursing homes themselves, who have used it to avoid having to pay sizeable damages that juries have assessed against them when injuries resulting from nursing home abuse or neglect have taken place.

Legislators were behind the original objection to the arbitration requirements, and sought to cut off funding to any nursing homes that received government funding who required that these arbitration contracts be signed. But the nursing home industry has fought hard to knock down the rule that was introduced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and since then the rule has been the subject of a great deal of legal maneuvering. The agency has put a hold on enforcement of the rule as a result of an injunction that has been placed against it, and has indicated that it will hold off until that injunction is lifted by the courts.  The injunction was granted by the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi following a request submitted by the American Health Care Association, a lobbying group representing the nursing home industry.

The legal machinations go far beyond being a simple argument. For those who have elderly or infirm loved ones who are living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, the notion of being forced to agree to arbitration before being allowed entry to a care facility is a true Catch-22: they are being put in a position of either finding another facility, or giving up their rights to sue a facility, even if they have unquestionably caused real harm to their loved one.

The final chapter on this issue has not yet been written, and at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers we will continue to provide our clients with compassionate legal advocacy on behalf of their loved ones who have suffered injuries as a result of nursing home negligence. If you need help, contact our office and set up a free consultation.


Only Six Percent of Cases Filed Are Tort Related

 If you were to take a guess about what goes on inside of America’s civil court rooms, what percentage of cases heard would you guess are medical practice, slip and fall accidents, product liability cases and the like. Sixty percent? Seventy-five percent? More?

If your guess was anywhere above ten percent, you’re way off. In fact, only six percent of cases that are filed are tort related.

Why were you under such a wrong impression? Because that’s what big businesses want you to believe. The more they spread the myth of frivolous lawsuits and unreasonable damages being paid to dubious victims, the more they can blame rising prices on the same.

Think about the cases that you’ve heard about – the ones that have been pointed to as being wastes of court time and business money. The one you probably know best is the McDonalds’ hot coffee case. Remember that one? You probably think that the victim in that case filed a silly lawsuit based on non-existent or inconsequential damages and that they got millions of dollars. In fact, the woman who filed the suit was elderly and was hospitalized for over a week as a result of the third-degree burns that she suffered. The coffee that was served to her was not just hot, but was in fact fifty degrees hotter than the temperature that is generally served at retail establishments and they had received hundreds of complaints about the issue, and perhaps most importantly the woman had asked for just $20,000 to cover her medical bills. Her actual jury award was just $640,000. Yet McDonalds and other businesses have subtly promoted the notion that this was yet another example of unreasonable litigation.

There are many other, similar cases that are frequently evoked by legislators and corporations seeking tort reform.

Yet the truth is that when you look at the actual numbers, only 1.3 percent of all civil cases are personal injury lawsuits, and there was a dramatic decrease of 52 percent in the number of personal injury jury trials in the years between 1992 and 2005. More importantly, in the years between 1985 and 1991, almost half of all federal litigation was between businesses fighting over contracts, and when it comes to frivolous lawsuits, judges are quick to point out that they are seeing decreasing numbers of claims filed, and that they have the power to dismiss cases that they feel are without merit – and to penalize attorneys who bring them.

One of the most important points to remember when it comes to personal injury lawsuits, attorneys generally do not get paid unless they win their clients’ case – and then they just receive a percentage of the damages awarded. These attorneys do not take cases unless they are fairly certain that they are valid, as they do not get paid when their clients don’t win.

If you have suffered an injury as a result of negligence, a personal injury attorney from Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers will provide you with a fair assessment of your rights and the strength of your case. Contact us today to set up a free appointment with one of our experienced professionals.


What Does a Truck Driver Learn in CDL School?

If you’re like most drivers, at one time or another you have seen a tractor trailer or other large commercial truck exhibit some kind of maneuver whose riskiness took your breath away – or maybe you’ve seen something worse, and actually witnessed a truck accident. Some people believe that truck drivers are extremely knowledgeable and have gone through extensive training in order to be able to get behind the wheel of an enormous truck, while others doubt that truck drivers have completed enough training, and worry that they represent a constant danger. The truth is that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established national training standards for new truck and bus drivers that are specifically designed to ensure that those holding commercial drivers’ licenses are held to a higher standard.  Unfortunately, this does not mean that all drivers behave according to their training. The truck accident attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers are ready to help if you or someone you love has been injured as a result of negligence caused by a truck driver, the trucking company, or anybody else that may have contributed to the accident taking place.

People who have witnessed erratic or irresponsible truck driver behavior may ask themselves what a truck driver learns in CDL school. Getting a Commercial Drivers’ License has different requirements depending upon what state the license is issued by, but the truth is that there is no requirement that a truck driver actually attend CDL school. These schools exist to provide prospective truck drivers with readiness training that will help them pass the tests established by the federal and state. So while the CDL training school may provide hands-on training with instructors, practice equipment and facilities, and classroom preparation for taking the license exam, none of this is actually necessary.

When a person decides that they want to become a truck driver they simply need to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License. To do that they need to get a copy of their state’s Commercial Driver’s License Manual, decide what type of vehicle and what kind of driving they want a license for, get their Commercial Learners Permit, which authorizes them to practice on public roads with a qualified Commercial Driver’s License holder next to them, and then after 14 days, take the Skills Test. In order to get the permit the driver must pass the knowledge test for the type of driving they want to do and have their driving record checked for the last ten years in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They also need proof that they are medically qualified, usually provided through a DOT medical card.

After all of these materials are provided and the knowledge and skills test have been passed, it’s a matter of processing the paperwork, with some states providing the license on the very same day.

CDL school provides far more hands on experience and preparation then is required by law, but is still no guarantee that a driver will behave responsibly once they are behind the wheel. The high number of fatalities and injuries that result from truck accidents point to the need for commercial truck drivers to hold themselves to a higher standard. When they fail in this obligation and someone you love is injured, the truck accident lawyers at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers can help.


Safety Tips for Driving When Daylight Savings Time Ends

Daylight savings time was introduced in the United States in 1918. It began much earlier in other countries. The goal of the time shift was to provide additional daylight to allow workers to both begin and complete their work routines and still have an hour of daylight after the work day is over.  Though the shift was effective, when the days get shorter during the winter the practice meant that people were waking up and headed to work when it was still dark out, and that was impractical. As a result, the practice of shifting the clock backwards an hour in the weeks before winter started was introduced and continues today. As a result, starting this weekend sunset arrives one hour earlier, thus meaning that when people are driving home from work, they do so in the dark. Skilled and experienced drivers can navigate neighborhood roadways but they need to pay close attention to ensure. The law firm of Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers is dedicated to protecting the safety of drivers and pedestrians alike. Here are important safety tips for driving when daylight savings time ends.

Driving home from work or to evening activities during the summer hours means you have the benefit of clear visibility and plenty of light, but once we turn the clocks back, we are driving in the dark at the same time that kids may be heading home from sports or play. Commuters who cycle to work are harder to see on the way home, and the coming of darkness can even make it easier to get drowsy behind the wheel. To avoid getting into an accident or causing harm, review these safety tips and make sure that you’re keeping them in mind whenever you’re behind the wheel:

  • Always drive the speed limit, and if you are driving in a neighborhood do not attempt to go around vehicles that are stopped. The vehicle may be dropping children off from after school activities or sports.
  • Avoid all distractions while behind the wheel, and particularly the use of a cell phone. You should never text, check email or even program a GPS while your vehicle is in motion.
  • Make sure that you are driving in a way that makes it easy for other drivers to predict what you are going to do. Use your turn signals when turning and use your hazards if you are stopping.
  • Be cautious when backing up.

Obeying the rules of the road is always important, but when visibility is reduced and school is in session it is particularly important. Take your time when driving at night and obey these safety rules to avoid an accident that can change somebody’s life, and if you or someone you love are injured by a driver who is not paying attention to safety rules and is operating their vehicle carelessly, contact the attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers to learn about your rights and the compensation you may be entitled to.


Misuse of Fireworks in Connecticut

As summer approaches, we all anticipate all of its pleasures. Days at the beach, backyard barbecues, and especially fireworks set off to celebrate Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and the season itself. As dazzling and inspiring as these pyrotechnic shows can be, they also present a risk of danger and injury when the proper level of care is not used in their manufacture or by the people who are igniting them. There have been far too many incidents in which fireworks shows have gone awry and shells have either exploded early or been mishandled and ended up firing into spectators, or even setting nearby homes on fire. Over 9,000 fireworks injuries are estimated to take place every year, and about four result in fatalities. If you or someone you love has been injured or suffered damages as a result of the misuse of fireworks, you may be eligible to receive compensation from those responsible. The professionals at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers are here to provide you with valuable information about your rights and the best actions for you to pursue.

There are a number of instances of fireworks having been manufactured with defects: fuses that are defective may result in the product exploding early, or appearing to fail and inviting users to come near and then suddenly exploding. In most cases fireworks injuries are caused by the actions of those who are setting them off. Whether the person responsible is a neighbor setting them off in their backyard or a professional fireworks display company, fireworks need to be handled with maximum care, and when they are improperly used the injuries can be severe. Spectators can suffer burns, lacerations from shrapnel and debris, injury to their eyes, and even death. In order to minimize the risk of injury, those who are using fireworks should take great care to handle them according to the manufacturer’s directions and keep children far away from the ignition site. Special care needs to be taken to ensure that homes, people, and flammable items are far away, and it is important to keep a fire extinguisher close at hand in case of emergencies.

If you were injured as a result of the misuse of fireworks at a fireworks show, you may be eligible to recover damages from those who were responsible for the incident. Liability is often linked to negligence, but personal injury lawsuits for these injuries can be leveled not only at the company or individual responsible for igniting the explosive, but also at the entity responsible for organizing the show. An experienced personal injury attorney will work to prove that the organizer failed in their responsibility to properly supervise the event, or in their duty to ensure that spectators would be kept safe. Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers have the experience and passion for justice that you need to get you the compensation that you deserve for the damages that you have suffered. Call us today to set up an appointment to discuss your case.


Summer Boating Safety in Connecticut

With summer finally here, many Connecticut residents’ thoughts turn back to the joy of boating. The state is renowned for the many opportunities offered to boaters, with the state operating over 100 public boat launches that provide access to lakes, streams, and the beautiful Long Island Sound. Before heading off to enjoy Connecticut’s waterways, it is important that you make sure that you are complying with the state’s laws and that you reacquaint yourself with the basics of boating safety. The better prepared you are and the more common sense you use, the safer you and your passengers will be and the less risk of personal injury.

As much enjoyment as boats and boating provide, they also have many inherent risks. Boating accidents happen when people don’t pay attention to boat maintenance or the “rules of the road”. Most accidents involve collisions with other boats or objects, and this is often a function of a boat driver drinking or not paying careful attention.

Many times these collisions can result in injury or drowning, particularly when passengers are not wearing life jackets or equipped with personal flotation devices. Take the time to ensure that everybody on board is properly equipped.

One of the most tragic causes of boat passenger injury or death is carbon monoxide poisoning. This can befall those who are swimming behind a boat or being towed through the water, but it can also happen to those onboard when air currents pull boat exhaust into the cabin or cockpit. Carbon monoxide is both tasteless and odorless, so it is essential that boat owners are aware of the risks and take appropriate precautions and make sure that their boats are properly ventilated.

Another way to prevent accidents and injuries while onboard your boat is to make sure that you have all of the required equipment. This depends upon the size of the boat, but generally speaking all boats need to have a backfire flame arrestor, personal flotation devices for each person on board or being towed on water skis, sound-producing devices such as a whistle, visual distress signals for use when operating at night, and at least one fire extinguisher.

Responsible boat owners and operators will take the time to ensure that they have taken all of these precautions and operate their boats responsibly. Unfortunately, it is also important to remember that other boat operators may not be as observant of the rules as you are. Keep alert to the behaviors of those around you – defensive driving in a boat is just as important as in a car.

At Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers, we want everybody to enjoy summer’s recreational activities safely. If you or someone you love is injured as a result of another boater’s negligence or failure to act responsibly, you may have a personal injury case and we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us to set up a free consultation on your legal rights.

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