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Garden City, NY Estate Planning & Complex Litigation Blog

Friday, April 12, 2019

Who is liable for fire-related accidents in your kitchen?

Your friends are over and a few are helping you prepare dinner for your annual Sunday Roast. Suddenly, your friend yells out that the oven is on fire. Startled, you see a large flame glowing through the glass door and you rush to turn the oven off. After unsuccessfully putting out the fire by turning off the oven, you call the fire department. By the time the fire department shows up and extinguishes the flame, nearly one-third of your kitchen is damaged. So, who is responsible for the damage?

In typical lawyer speak, the answer is “it depends.” Just because the fire occurred in your kitchen does not mean that you are de facto responsible for any damage that it causes – au contraire! The question of who is liable for fire-related accidents in your kitchen is best answered by determining who is responsible for the fire itself. In the above scenario, the fire could have been started by a flame-up or other cooking incident in the oven. Alternatively, it could be the result of a defective oven. If the fire is a result of your doing, then you are likely to be liable. However, if the fire is a result of incorrectly installed heating coils that resulted in part of the oven catching fire, then the manufacturer of the oven may be liable for the fire-related damage caused to your kitchen.


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Monday, April 1, 2019

Risk-benefit Test in Product Liability Cases

When bringing a product liability case, there are two primary tests which may be applied for purposes of establishing liability and eventually, damages: first, the consumer expectations test; second, the risk-benefit test. The consumer expectations test requires the plaintiff to prove that the product failed to perform in a safe manner that would be expected by an ordinary consumer when the product is used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner. Conversely, the risk-benefit test requires the plaintiff to establish a prima facie case of causation showing that a design feature of the product was a substantial factor in causing injury. The consumer expectations test requires a higher burden of proof for the plaintiff than does the risk-benefit test. Note that these two tests are not mutually exclusive. This post will focus on the risk-benefit test.


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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Deciding Whether to Try Your Case to a Judge or Jury

When bringing a personal injury case against someone, you typically prove the four elements of negligence:

  1. The person owed you a duty of care
  2. The person violated that duty of care
  3. That violation of duty resulted in your injury
  4. You sustained actual damages from that injury

When proving each element, you generally have to establish your burden of proof – which is “by a preponderance of the evidence” (something is more likely than not) in a civil case. This is a lower standard than the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Nonetheless, the person or people who decide whether you have met that standard of proof is exceptionally important.

In personal injury cases, the body that decides whether the burden of proof has been met is known as the “finder of find” or “fact-finder.” The fact-finder may be composed of a jury of peers or a single judge. When a single judge is the fact-finder, the trial is known as a bench trial. When the fact-finder is a group of peers forming a jury, the trial is known as a jury trial.

Generally, a jury trial is preferential. However, there are certain situations where a bench trial could be advantageous:


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Friday, March 15, 2019

4 Reasons Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

Many people are under the misconception that estate plans are only necessary for those with substantial wealth. In fact, estate plans are important for everyone who wants to plan for the future. For those unfamiliar with the concept, an estate plan coordinates the distribution of your assets upon your death. Without an estate plan, your estate (assets) will go through the probate system, regardless of how much or how little you have. There are many reasons that everyone needs an estate plan, but the top reasons are:


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Friday, March 1, 2019

What is a Contingency Fee?

It’s Wednesday evening and you just got off work, but you remember that you need to pick up some ingredients for dinner. You make a detour to the local grocer to pick up some chicken and carrots on your way home – it’ll only take fifteen minutes. As you’re strolling through the aisles, you don’t see an unmarked puddle of standing water and slip. While falling, you break your arm as well as injure your neck. As a result, you spend the evening at the hospital and leave with a medical bill for $6,000. The next day, you wake up sore and unable to leave the house. You can’t go to work but need to continue working to support your family, not to mention the medical bill you incurred the night before. What do you do?


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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Selling Your Business

The majority of businesses in the United States are small businesses. To understand the impact that small business has, consider the fact that small business generates nearly 60% of all new jobs within the United States. Amazon, Walmart, and other big companies often stand out with their massive revenues and employment numbers, but at the end of the day, the primary drivers behind the economy are small business.

If you have a family business or personal business that you’ve built up, you are likely one of these economic drivers. For many families and individuals, the business becomes an identity. Family businesses in particular are susceptible to acting as an identity for that family. Thus, for many small business owners planning for retirement, the question of what to do with the small business is a major stressor. For a family business, the transfer of control and ownership from one generation to the next can be incredibly complicated and strenuous. If it’s not a family business, then the question is primarily how to effectuate the sale and estate planning repercussions. The following sections will give an overview of general considerations for family-owned businesses and then general concerns relating to the sale of a business.


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Friday, February 15, 2019

Misconceptions About Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury is one of the most actively practiced areas of law, but there are many misconceptions surrounding it.  It’s not the fault of the general public for these misconceptions – the law is an intricate system full of rules that often don’t make sense in isolation. To help resolve this confusion, several common misconceptions are addressed below.

You can Take Your Time

Some injury victims may decide to wait before reaching out to an attorney. There is a belief that if you’ve been injured, you can sue whenever is convenient. Unfortunately, this is not the case and is a misconception that often bars victims from being able to claim compensation. States impose a time limit, referred to as a statute of limitations,  bring a lawsuit after an injury occurs. To ensure that you are not barred from bringing a claim for personal injury by a state’s statute of limitations, it’s essential to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the injury.


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Friday, February 1, 2019

Removing a Trustee

Trustees are responsible for administering a trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. In some instances, multiple trustees may administer a trust as co-trustees. Occasionally, issues arise causing the beneficiaries of a trust or the co-trustees to pursue removal of a trustee. These issues could be general unhappiness with trust accounting or failure of the trustee or co-trustee to provide information when requested. In short, the grantor (creator) of the trust, co-trustees, the trust beneficiaries,  and the  probate court have the ability to remove a trustee

Reasons a Trustee Can Be Removed

The reasons for removal of a trustee depend upon the trust documents and applicable state law. Generally, a trustee can be removed for:


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Friday, January 18, 2019

Buying A House After Bankruptcy

It is no secret that filing for bankruptcy can harm your credit. However, compared to simply letting your accounts go past due for months on end, bankruptcy may actually be better for your credit over the long term because there are no repeated “dings” on your credit score. Getting the bankruptcy finished allows you to start fresh and begin to rebuild your credit rating.

Your credit score is closely examined when you enter the home buying process, which means  that filing for bankruptcy may affect your ability to purchase a home in the future. Even if your credit score is not significantly harmed,  a bankruptcy discharge will remain on your credit report for up to ten years. That type of history can make lenders nervous about your creditworthiness.  Nonetheless, it is possible to purchase a house after bankruptcy, but it may take some additional time and extra steps.


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Friday, January 11, 2019

An Overview of Retirement Plan Options

Retirement planning is essential given ever-increasing life expectancies in the United States. Unfortunately, many Americans fail to save adequate amounts to make it through retirement. Often, individuals believe that they will be fine on Social Security. However, Social Security is only designed to compensate for 40% of your income; Social Security is designed to be an income supplement rather than a sole income source. To make matters worse, workers tend to overestimate how late into their life they will be able to work. Inadequate savings and an inability to work produce an exceptionally stressful retirement. Remember, it’s never too late to start saving.

401(k) Plans

401(k) plans are employer-sponsored retirement plans that offer tax advantages to investing. When investing through a 401(k) plan, you will declare how much of your paycheck you would like to contribute to the 401(k). The employer will then contribute the designated amount before taxes to your 401(k) account. The contributions made to your 401(k) account are non-taxable meaning that your taxable income is decreased by the amount contributed. As of 2018, the maximum amount that a taxpayer can contribute to a 401(k) account is $18,500. The tax advantages of the 401(k) plan mean that if the taxpayer earns $80,000 annually in salary and contributes $10,000 to his or her 401(k) plan, then the taxpayer’s taxable income for that year would be decreased to $70,000. When the taxpayer begins to withdraw from the 401(k) account, those withdrawals will be treated as taxable income.

However, money contributed to a 401(k) plan may not be withdrawn before the age of 59.5 without incurring a penalty unless certain exceptions apply. Unfortunately, not all employers offer 401(k) plans. If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) program, make sure to take advantage of other retirement plan options such as a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.


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Friday, January 4, 2019

The Damages Calculation: Prediciting What Your Case Is "Worth"

When someone has been injured in an accident, one of the prime considerations is whether the claim is worth pursuing. Injury victims need to whether the facts and the overall situation would create a legal liability for someone else. Beyond that, they also want to know what kind of recovery they could obtain for their injuries and damages. That question is sometimes harder to answer, however.

Everyone’s case is different, and even some slight detail could significantly alter the value of your claim. However, there are some overarching “rules” that you can use to determine what your case may be worth.

The following information is the same method that most insurance companies will use to determine what amount may be appropriate to settle your case. It is often referred to as the “Damages Calculation.”

Your Damages in a Personal Injury Case

When you are injured, you likely have several different types of damages. They may include:


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Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, P.C. has offices in Garden City, NY and assists clients throughout Long Island, including: the north shore of Long Island, The Town Of Oyster Bay, The Town Of North Hempstead, The Town Of Hempstead, The Town Of Huntington, Nassau & Suffolk Counties & throughout the Five Boroughs of The City Of New York.



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