How to Protect Your Business from Personal Injury Lawsuits

injury, Wheaton business lawyersIf you own a business, there is a good chance that your employees, suppliers, vendors, and, obviously, your customers will regularly on your property. You will, undoubtedly, work hard to protect the well-being of each person who visits your business and to give them a safe and comfortable experience at your place of business.

Unfortunately, however, accidents do happen from time to time, and when they occur, people are sometimes injured. Believe it or not, injury-causing accidents can even occur on your property, leaving you potentially open to a personal injury claim. The good news is that there are several things that you can do to limit your possible liability if someone is even injured while visiting or working at your company.

Proactive Measures

The best way to limit your personal injury liability, of course, is to prevent accidents from happening as much as possible. This means that you need to have preventive measures in place against potential injuries instead of reacting to accidents when they occur. Such preventive measures generally include comprehensive safety policies, procedures, and protocols throughout your business.

You should also identify possible areas of concern, such as doorways with mats on the floor that could become a tripping hazard. Similarly, understand and anticipate weather-related issues, such as accumulations of snow and ice and damage caused to your parking lots and walkways by exposure to the elements.

Necessary but dangerous maintenance activities should be conducted outside of your peak customer hours, for sure, and outside of business hours completely if possible. Making repairs, mopping floors, and replacing light bulbs in the ceiling, for example, can most likely be done before you open or after you close for the day.

Constant Vigilance

Having a plan is great, but you need to implement it and make it part of your business culture. If safety is a common topic that is addressed through regular communication, training sessions, and meetings, it will never be far from your team’s minds. Be open to safety ideas from every single member of your staff. If an idea will reduce the chance of an accident, it should not matter who came up with it—get it implemented as soon as you can.

Your safety policies should be clearly written out in your employee handbook, which should define the responsibilities of each person in your company for preventing injury-causing accidents. You might also consider including safety violations in your company’s disciplinary policy, as well as offering incentives for meeting safety-related goals. While you might not be able to stop every accident, actions such as these can demonstrate that you are not negligent in regard to safety.

Adequate Insurance

If you have employees, you must have workers’ compensation insurance to cover them in the event of a work-related injury. However, there is no state or federal requirement for your company to have commercial liability insurance. Without liability insurance, a single accident could potentially bankrupt you and your company. Before you speak to an insurance broker, talk to a qualified attorney. A broker is going to try to sell you policies based on the commission that he or she will receive, while your lawyer will objectively help you determine your potential risks and the amount of liability protection you need. Then you can find the liability policy or policies that offer the desired level of security.

Call a Wheaton Business Law Attorney

At Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC, our experienced DuPage County business lawyers can help you protect yourself and your company in the event of an injury-causing accident. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.



Should I Use An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust?

It's very likely that during a conversation about estate planning that life insurance has come up as a topic. As a tool for planning for your family, life insurance can be a cornerstone of your financial plan, giving your family a sense of security in case something happens to you. When chosen properly and combined with an irrevocable life insurance trust drafted by your attorney, you can ensure that your family will remain safe and protected in the future.

LauraAn irrevocable life insurance trust is one way to protect the proceeds from any life insurance policies you own at death being included in your estate. If the policy owner was able to withdraw cash value and alter the beneficiary, then the IRS views this as "incidents of ownership" and state taxing authorities and the IRS can step in to tax proceeds at death.

This specific type of trust is designed entirely for life insurance policies. You can transfer the ownership of the life insurance policies to the Trustee of your ILIT, therefore giving up "incidents of ownership" and protecting the proceeds from your policies from being taxed.

The ILIT will be named as the primary beneficiary on your policies. When you pass away, the proceeds will be deposited into the trust help for your spouse, children, or other beneficiaries. This plan is especially powerful when it allows your family assistance with money to pay the tax bill while keeping your overall estate tax responsibility as low as possible. You can even make use of the generation-skipping transfer tax exemption by allocating the exemption against to discounted dollars (viewed as premium) when you stack these up against the value of the insurance proceeds.

If you are ready to get started with your irrevocable life insurance trust documents, contact an Illinois estate planning lawyer today.

When Planning Your Estate, Don't Fall off Fiscal Cliff

The Southern Business Journal recently posted an article giving advice on planning for the second half of your life in a way that will avoid serious financial troubles.

We've all heard of the infamous fiscal cliff and the always-increasing intensity about the impending doom the United States will face if the deficit and debt are not reduced immediately and without regard to the promises we have made to our retirees, veterans, elderly, etc.

If long-term care insurance companies have their way, you or your loved one may soon fall off your own personal fiscal cliff.  Lobbyists have been bombarding Congress with the idea of dismantling the social and medical safety nets currently available to eligible seniors, veterans, and disabled persons through the federal Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and VA programs.

Long-term care insurance does make a lot of sense when you understand certain facts.  According to various reports:

  • For a couple turning 65, there is a 70 percent chance that one will need long-term care.  Single persons are at a greater risk because they often have no one to help.
  • For persons older than 75, 65 percent already need long-term care.
  • By the time a person reaches 85, 97 percent need long-term care.
  • The average stay in a nursing home is three years.
  • The average cost of a semi-private room in a Southern Illinois nursing home in 2012 was $4,560 per month, while the cost of a private room could reach more than $10,800 per month.
  • The cost of assisted living in Southern Illinois in 2012 ranged from $2,675 per month to $5,300 per month.

LaraEssentially, if you can qualify medically and afford long-term care insurance, you should probably have it.  Unfortunately, many people in Southern Illinois cannot afford the high prices of the monthly premiums. It is also true that many people often wait until it is too late, often due to medical conditions they did not have at earlier ages.

All of this is why you need to understand what long-term care insurance industry lobbyists are up to.  They have caused the introduction of a bill that would require the state and federal governments to "reduce the number of middle-income individuals who rely on Medicaid to finance their long-term care needs by (forcing persons to purchase long-term care insurance policies."  This also means that premiums would go up.

If you have found yourself in financial trouble, especially when dealing with long-term care insurance, it would be in your best interest to hire an experienced and dedicated Illinois attorney as soon as possible.