Hit and Injured by an 18-Wheeler or other Big Corporate Truck?

Hit and Injured by an 18-Wheeler or other Big Corporate Truck?

Legal Matters

presented by: Frank S. Buck P.C., Personal Injury

 What to Do to Protect Yourself

Due to the hectic demands of life, we often find ourselves on the road. Daily interstate travel brings many drivers in frequent contact with larger vehicles like 18-wheelers or semi-trailer trucks. Many truckers work lengthy hours, driving long distances hauling cargo, which can result in fatigue and distracted driving, both of which can lead to catastrophic crashes. In addition, truckers often face strict delivery deadlines, causing some to disregard speed limits. Many drivers do not realize how different a car wreck involving an 18-wheeler is from one involving two average vehicles. 18-wheeler trucks can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. which often causes serious and substantial damage to the cars involved in this crashes and sometimes fatal consequences. One in every eight automobile wreck fatalities involves a large truck like an 18-wheeler. If the past is any indication, more people will be killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks this year than have died in all the domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years. Because of statistics like these, there are strict laws and regulations that apply to trucking companies and their drivers, which do not apply to non-commercial drivers. Examples of such regulations include limitations on the amount of time that truck drivers can spend driving before they take a break and what they can haul.

If you are in a wreck with an 18-wheeler, it is important to call an attorney who handles trucking collisions immediately. The trucking company will begin investigating the wreck right away with a team of experts and lawyers on the case to protect itself, so time is of the essence for you to hire an attorney to begin investigation to protect yourself.  There is valuable evidence such as black box data or other GPS recording devices from the truck that need to be preserved promptly by an experienced attorney working on your behalf. A “black box” is a recording device that is triggered by certain events to start recording important data about the truck and its movement and speed. Black box data can provide critical evidence later for an expert such as an accident reconstructionist to determine what happened in the wreck. If this data is not requested early, there is nothing preventing the trucking companies from destroying it. It is also important to document the wreck with photographs of the vehicles at the scene of the collision to show exactly what occurred. An attorney can also investigate the background of the trucking company as well as the driver. It is important to have someone who will fight for you after an 18-wheeler collision.

Frank S. Buck, P.C., Attorneys at Law have been offering professional legal services and serving Alabama citizens for over 43 years.  We have experienced trial attorneys who have over 100 years of combined trial experience.  You can reach us 24 hours a day at (205) 933-7533.  Please call us for a free consultation.

 

Read more from Frank Buck at www.BirminghamChristian.com. Click on News/Family/Legal Matters

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Common Excuses for Delaying Estate Planning

Common Excuses for Delaying Estate Planning

Legal Matters

presented by Bradford & Holliman, Estate Planning

  1. I’m too young to need an Estate Plan. Regardless of your age, you need an estate plan. If you are not married or do not have children, you must decide who will get your things.  In my youth, I didn’t have a lot of assets; but, I still wanted certain people to get what I had if my husband and I died together in an accident. You may not want your assets to go to parents or to siblings. You may prefer your assets to be given to one parent or to one sibling. You may want your assets to be given to friends or to charity. You have the right to decide how your assets are distributed; but, you must have an estate plan to do that. If you have children, you need an estate plan that names who will take care of your children. You do not want family members to fight over who will take them.
  2. I don’t have enough assets to need an Estate Plan. There is no magic number that suddenly deems you rich enough to need an estate plan. The key question is, “Do you have assets that are important enough to you enough you want to control who gets the assets?” If so, you need an estate plan.
  3. My spouse gets everything anyway. Without a Will or Trust, your spouse may not receive everything. Alabama law has certain requirements for how much a spouse can receive. It is entirely possible that your parents or your children may receive some portion of assets to the exclusion of your spouse.
  4. I can’t decide how to divide things up. It can be very difficult to decide how much to give to children or grandchildren; but, the danger in waiting on an estate plan is that you may die without ever deciding. If that happens, the State of Alabama gets to decide who gets your assets. Wouldn’t you prefer to make a decision that you can change later if needed instead of leaving it to chance and the State of Alabama?
  5. I can’t decide who to put in charge. If you do not make this decision, the State will make the decision for you. Talk with your estate planning attorney. You may decide to name an unrelated third party; or, you may name a family member. You can always change your nomination in the future if you later feel the person is no longer a good choice.
  6. It costs too much – It generally will cost much more if you fail to have an estate plan. An administration following intestate law is more complicated and can allow more opportunities for family to fight – all of which increases the costs.
  7. I’ll be dead so who cares – While chances are pretty good that you will not care about your assets after death, if you love your family, you can help to prevent them from having disputes and lessen the difficulties of going through a long and complicated estate process. This is especially true in blended families; or, in families with well-established personality conflicts.

It is easy to make excuses and delay preparing an estate plan. Don’t let excuses determine your family’s fate. Start working through your concerns with an experienced estate planning attorney that can help you review your choices and make decisions.

Melanie Bradford Holliman 

Partner, Bradford & Holliman, LLC

Practice focuses on estate planning, elder law and special needs trust.

2491 Pelham Parkway, Pelham, Ala. 35124

205-663-0281, www.bradfordholliman.com

This article is for educational purposes and is not intended for specific legal advice.

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It’s a Safari!

It’s a Safari!

Are We There Yet?

It’s fun for kids of all ages at “Live with Characters” February 24 at Gardendale First Baptist Church-North Campus. Learn more and buy tickets at www.justkeepsmiling.org

Your children or grandchildren are sure to smile and maybe burst into laughter as they meet their favorite Disney characters, Ninja Turtles, Star Wars characters and more- all while going on “Safari.” There will be two “Live with the Characters” shows, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., on February 24, 2018, each followed by a meet and greet, autograph signings and pictures with the stars of the show. The event at Gardendale First Baptist Church-North Campus is a major fundraiser for the local non-profit ministry, Just Keep Smiling (JKS, www.justkeepsmiling.org). “‘Live with the Characters’ is a favorite fund raiser of all of our volunteers,” explains Just Keep Smiling founder, Sue Jeffreys. “It is a time we come together to do God’s work, having so much fun, while making children smile and have the time of their life.” JKS was born from the experiences of three local women, Patrice Brooks, Debra Cook and Sue Jeffreys. All three women know what it is like to live with tragically losing children or having a child with a life-threatening illness. Thirteen years ago, they established JKS which seeks to assist families with critically ill children by providing financial aid for immediate needs, offering emotional support based on personal knowledge of a child’s serious illness or death, and sharing spiritual insight that conveys the solace, grace and strength found in God. JKS works with a network of social workers at area hospitals to identify families with such needs during their time of medical crisis with a child or children.

Purchase your $10 tickets to “Live with the Characters” at www.justkeepsmiling.org, at Jeff Dennis Jewelers or at the door. Special VIP tickets are available with reserved seating, souvenir and preshow autograph and pictures (limited to 50 tickets per show). If your company or organization is looking for an opportunity to help families in need, consider a $300 Character Sponsorship at “Live with the Characters.” Contact jbusby@justkeepsmiling.org for details.

Later this year, JKS will host a Golf Tournament at Greystone’s Legacy Course on June 28, the Annual Merry Market at Gardendale Civic Center October 19-20 and Auction & Appetizers’ at Regions Field Ballroom on November 6, 2018. †

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Serving Alabama Children through CASA

Serving Alabama Children through CASA

For children who have experienced abuse or neglect, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can help make a difference by helping them work their way through the court and child welfare systems in search of a loving home. Each time a child is paired with a CASA Volunteer, their chances are greater to have the best possible outcome. CASA recruits and trains volunteers to advocate for the child’s best interest in the court process. They work with judges, lawyers, social workers, and families to ensure each child has an advocate in court, the child welfare, and foster care systems.

Many life goals and achievements that our culture considers normal rites of passage do not occur for children who are in foster care. Statistics show that 40% do not graduate from high school, 20% become homeless within one year and 25% will be incarcerated after leaving foster care. In contrast, children with CASA volunteers spend 7.5 months less time in foster care, experience fewer out-of-home placements, have significantly better educational performance, and are 90% less likely to reenter the system. By working to reduce the length of time a child spends in foster care, CASA saves the state thousands of dollars while drastically improving the quality of a child’s life, one child at a time. Every child that CASA helps to find a safe, permanent home is one more future adult who has a chance to thrive and succeed in our society.

In 2015, there were 10,279 dependency proceedings in Alabama. Currently, we only have the capacity to serve 10% of the children who need a CASA Volunteer. We must serve more but we cannot do it without the help of caring individuals willing to be trained to serve. You don’t have to be “qualified,” just a caring, compassionate and concerned person willing to be trained.

CASA is presently recruiting volunteers to work with abused and neglected children in all areas of Shelby County and parts of the Hoover area. Training classes begin April 2018. For more information on how you can help, please visit www.casaofshelbycounty.org or call Beth at 243-8753. †

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Addressing Curb Appeal & Safety

Addressing Curb Appeal & Safety

Addressing Curb Appeal & Safety 

John Gallagher, Bob Cooley, and their team at Classic Iron Works offer you personalized service in determining what will provide your home with not only great curb appeal but also the latest options in safety and security. Visit them on Facebook @CIWBham to see how their Tapco security products work.

Railings and a quality, secure front door are two aspects of home improvement that can quickly boost your home’s curb appeal and safety.

SECURITY DOORS offer protection, decoration and insulation, and they no longer look like the burglar bar doors of the past. “The way the doors are constructed, the workmanship, has not changed, but these doors don’t look like your grandmother or mother’s storm doors,” explains John Gallagher who owns Birmingham’s Classic Iron Works with his partner Bob Cooley and together have 70 plus years of experience in the business. A visit to the Classic Iron Works Show Room is a great way to see all the options available to you, including doors that compliment any style of home from classic to modern to log cabin, plus offer cost saving insulation and cutting-edge security technology as an authorized Tapco dealer. The team at Classic Iron Works can determine for you how best to utilize their products in your home, office or church.

Clear View. Even with a clear view door you can get ample security with the use of hurricane glass versus tempered glass.

Color Choices & Durability. “Early on black was the only color offered, “says Gallagher, “but now you can choose from many different colors that are more durable due to the power coat painting process.”

Beat the Heat. If your front door is exposed to direct sunlight much of the day, tinted tempered glass will help provide heat reflection and reduce the temperature as much as 15 degrees. “It reduces the heat but does not stop the heat,” says Gallagher.

RAILINGS are a necessity if you have steps leading in and out of your home. If you want to sell your home, you will likely be required to add railings. “Back in the day, a rail was a rail. Now we can make rails anyway you want them,” says Gallagher who adds it is important to keep in mind the more ornate you want your rails the more they will cost.

INSTALLATION is key with the purchase of security doors and railings. “Be sure to choose a company that has experience in installing your doors or railing in such a way that you get the optimum benefit from your investment,” says Gallagher. Ask for referrals to see if an installer’s customers have been satisfied.

Take your time in determining what door and/or rails is best for your home, because it is likely a permanent purchase to your home. Check out your options at Classic Iron Works, 3724 1st Avenue North. The showroom is open Monday through Friday 8:30am-5pm and Saturday 9am-2pm. A representative from the company will also come to your home and provide a free consultation to determine what options may best fit your needs, 205-322-6868, www.classicironworks.com. †

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Taziki’s Keith Richards

Taziki’s Keith Richards

Jesus, Others and Yourself: Taziki’s Keith Richards

Keith Richards began his restaurant career cooking chicken in a K-Mart kitchen and waiting tables at Olive Garden. Today he serves as Chief Development Officer for Taziki’s, which he founded in 1998 with an original location off Highway 280 in Birmingham.

After a vacation to Greece in 1997, Keith Richards was inspired to recreate the same richness of community he experienced there in his home town of Birmingham. Opening his first Taziki’s restaurant in 1998 was a leap of faith quickly bolstered by the idea of giving back. Now with locations in 17 different states, Richards reflects on how his Christian upbringing contributed to his drive to succeed and his commitment to employing and inspiring special needs teens and young adults in the communities he serves.

Growing Up in Birmingham. An alumnus of Green Acres Elementary, Charles A. Brown Middle School, and Midfield High School, Richards grew up in Ensley and says his strongest memories of childhood involve being outdoors. “Back then, of course, we had no devices that would distract us,” he remembers. “We had an area called The Trails where we rode our bikes and shot BB guns and chased squirrels and went to the Boys and Girls Club. That’s all we did—that and play baseball. Church on Sundays. It’s almost like a country song.” Richards’ family attended Fairview United Methodist Church, and as far back as he can remember, every store in Ensley was closed for Sunday services. “Sunday was the Sabbath, and that was the day we went to Sunday School, went to what we called Big Church, and then at night we would have youth group.” Even on vacations, Richards says his family would find a place to worship.

In his teens, Richards worked at Camp Sumatanga, an experience that strengthened his faith and gave him a taste of servanthood and pointing others to God. “During those impressionable years—16, 17, 18 years old when some teens are starting to wonder—it grounded me even more.” His contributions to the spiritual growth of his campers, he says, was primarily directing them toward the Lord revealed in nature. “Scripture is so important, but my perspective was more of look what God has given us.

Keith and Amy Richards married twice in 1992—once at Peavine Falls at Oak Mountain State Park with a preacher but no paperwork, then again six months later at Canterbury United Methodist Church. They opened their first Taziki’s restaurant 20 years ago with the mission “to create an environment that combines extraordinary food with the meaningful human connection missing from much of society today — all to help people achieve a deeper, more sustaining form of happiness.”

Richards’ father, Joe Richards turned 79 this past November, and inside his birthday card Keith Richards wrote, “Thanks for being my hero.” “He’s the one I strive to be like, not only with his faith but with his heart, his goodness,” Richards says, noting that his mother passed away nearly six years ago. “We had a Bible School class at church growing up, and it was the J.O.Y. class. It stands for Jesus, Others and Yourself. That has always stuck with me. I saw my parents live that.”

Growing a Business. After jobs at a Kmart cafeteria and Olive Garden followed by a 10-year career at Bottega under award-winning Chef Frank Stitt, Richards and his wife used their home as collateral to build his first Taziki’s location off Highway 280. Richards reflects on how his parents’ example served as inspiration. “My father was a telephone lineman for South Central Bell / BellSouth, and I knew what hard work looked like. It was a leap of faith… We didn’t have the money. There wasn’t an option. We could not fail,” he recalls of Taziki’s beginnings. “Ultimately, however, the challenge was how do we start giving back? That was the first thing to do. How do we get into the community to let people know we are here and who we are? Faith has a lot to do with that. You pray for success; sometimes it doesn’t come, sometimes it does, but prayer and hard work is a great combination to reap rewards.”

Giving Back. Giving back for Richards started with a chance meeting with Shelby County Schools Job Coach Cindy Vinson while on a cruise vacation. Bored with the band playing one evening on the ship, on a whim Keith offered to stand in as a drummer. An experienced musician, while he jammed on stage, Amy Richards struck up a conversation with Vinson, who was sitting nearby. Vinson asked if Taziki’s would consider employment for students with special needs. The Richards said “Yes,” and since then Taziki’s has been helping local students and young adults with challenges realize their potential, earn a paycheck, relate to peers, and be a part of a team. Richards adds that meaningful employment also meant relief, in a way, for the students’ parents. “Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to the challenges that the parents of children with special needs have. Today, if I can allow that parent 12-15 hours a week to pray, yoga, tennis, whatever their passion is, then I’ll do it.”

“They say God works in mysterious ways,” Keith Richard says of he and wife Amy being the parents of two sets of twins, one conceived with the assistance of fertility specialists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and another conceived naturally. “I think it was just something that God said you’re doing something right in your life, and I’m going to bless you again.” Seen here are Keith, Amy, Oliver (15), Charley (13), Margaux (13), and Maggie (15). Photo: Bernard Troncale

The Richards and Vinson also began the H.O.P.E. (Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment) program in 2012, which purchases herbs for Taziki’s restaurants grown by special needs students at area schools. Being taught how to grow, harvest and sell cilantro, rosemary, thyme, parsley and rosemary gives the students opportunities to practice social skills, learn the value of money, set goals, and follow through with plans. Richards is expanding the program to include at-risk students as well and hopes that in 2018 the program will become a nonprofit organization. He hopes that all of his friends in the Birmingham restaurant business will consider following his lead in cooking with locally grown herbs. “God has blessed me, and I’ve said a thousand times you have to give back. That’s the plan. That’s God’s plan. And, of course, I don’t do it for extra wing points or any kind of halo points. I do it because that’s the way that my parents raised me.”

Richards suggests that choosing to make 2018 a year for giving can be simple. It doesn’t require finding needs to meet worldwide. “In our own backyard, there are people that are hungry, people that don’t know Christ, people that are struggling on a daily basis that we can help,” says Richards. “Find something dear to your heart…what makes your heart flourish?”

 

  • Camille Smith Platt 

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No Parent Left Behind: Addressing Teenage Megatrends

No Parent Left Behind: Addressing Teenage Megatrends

Education Extra

Dr. Walt Mueller, the founder and director of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, will be presenting a seminar titled “No Parent Left Behind” at the Birmingham Parenting Collective Conference on Saturday, February 3 at the Oak Mountain High School auditorium. Mueller took a few minutes to answer some questions about the challenges parents face today and how the conference can help.

What do you think are the biggest challenges that parents today are facing? There are two primary challenges that parents face today. First is an old challenge – the challenge of dealing with our own brokenness as we seek to raise children that are also sinful and broken. The second challenge is a new challenge- the challenge of a changing cultural context. Parents find themselves raising kids in a culture that looks very different from the one they grew up in.

What are some ways parents find themselves “Left Behind”? When I go speak to parents, parents of older teenagers say, “This was really helpful, but I wish I had heard this 15 years ago.” Things have grown and become issues, and parents wish they could have had a preventative influence. Parents feel left behind because they don’t understand what their kids are facing.

What are some of the topics you will be addressing at the conference? I will cover developmental realities and how they make children vulnerable to the cultural narrative. I want to keep parents from being caught off guard. I will also cover practical and hope-filled responses to topics like social media, sexuality, pornography, and media influence. I will seek to provide practical and hope-filled ideas that will help us that can become stakes in the ground as we engage with kids.

How will this conference help parents keep from being “Left Behind”? The conference will not be exhaustive or a cure all. People need to see this as a launch pad, spring board, or starting line of being aware of the kinds of things kids face so they can offer practical biblically-based responses. This can be a launch pad to journey together with people in their churches and community as they can look for ways to minister together to their kids.

Why should parents make attending the conference a priority? I want to make them aware. Once you know the reality, you can generate a response. This conference is not just for parents of teenagers. It would be very beneficial to younger parents and grandparents as well. †

-For more information or to register for the Birmingham Parenting Collective Conference, please visit www.bhamparentingcollective.com

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YOU in 2018: What are your priorities?

YOU in 2018: What are your priorities?

Bringing Out the Winner

2018 is upon us. Everyone is thinking about their New Year’s Resolutions, and I’m sure you’ve heard, “I’m going to stop…” or more commonly, “I’m going to start…” It’s the checklist we commonly create this time every year.

I have an idea. Instead of making an annual checklist of different actions, directions or resolutions, why not focus on a list of priorities that can become a part of your life all year long – every day of your life from now on? The list should look something like this:

1) You and God

2) You

3) You and your spouse

4) You and your children

5) You and EVERYTHING ELSE!

Notice the first word in each is YOU! May 2018 be the year that you allow God to work in your life because this is the year you sincerely ask God to change you. If you do, I guarantee that you will see marked improvement in every one of your priorities. Why? Because God desires to make you better! He promised, “I will create a new heart within you.” He’s just waiting on you to ask.

John Croyle, Founder, Big Oak Ranch 

Author, Who You Are/Defying the Circumstances that Define Us, Bringing Out the Winner in Your Child, The Two Minute Drill to Manhood and Raising a Princess, www.bigoak.org

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Tax Reform & Estate Planning

Tax Reform & Estate Planning

Legal Matters

presented by Bradford & Holliman, Estate Planning

At the time I am writing this article, no one knows exactly what will happen with tax reform. However, it appears that the estate tax exemption will be significantly increased.

Presently, estate taxes are not a worry for the average Alabamian as the exemption limit was increased to $5 million per person under President Obama in 2012. Today, the estate tax exemption is $5.49 million dollars per person. In other words, a person must have over $5.49 million before his or her estate will pay estate taxes. Of course, if estate taxes are an issue, the tax rate is a hefty 40 percent.

If, under President Trump, the estate tax exemption is further increased, it will work to solidify the fact that most Alabamians do not have to actively plan to avoid estate taxes. However, that does not mean that estate planning is not necessary. Tax reform is expected to change other areas such as business taxation and deductions such as medical deductions. These are areas of important interest to business owners and seniors paying for long term care. Planning to pay for long term care and asset protection will continue to be a problem as the baby boomers age and the reality of paying for long term care sets in. Families need to be aware of options and proactively plan the best ways to provide care for seniors.

As tax reform occurs, make sure you check with your estate planning attorney to determine if you need to make changes due to changes in the tax laws and take the time to review your estate plan for any other changes that need to be made. And remember, blended families and families with troubled relationship dynamics will continue to need estate planning to make sure assets are passed in the way that is desired and in the best manner.

Melanie Bradford Holliman 

Partner, Bradford & Holliman, LLC

Practice focuses on estate planning, elder law and special needs trust.

2491 Pelham Parkway, Pelham, Ala. 35124

205-663-0281, www.bradfordholliman.com

This article is for educational purposes and is not intended for specific legal advice.

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