Heated car seats blamed for burns

It's been a long, cold winter here in the Hazleton area. Local residents are doing what they can to stay warm.

Heated car seats can be wonderful on a cold winter morning. But over time, these seat heaters can stop functioning properly – and when they do, injury can result.

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Estate planning is key for Hazleton-area residents

Attorney Chris Slusser of Hazleton wants you to know that about a year ago, Congress dramatically raised the federal estate tax exemption, which for 2013 was $5.25 million (or $10.5 million for a married couple). This action caused some people to mistakenly believe that they no longer need to think about estate planning if their assets are less than $5 or $10 million.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. And people who don’t keep their estate plan up to date are making a big mistake that could still be very costly to them and their families.

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Here’s another reason injured people should act quickly

You might be familiar with “statutes of limitations,” which say that you have to file a lawsuit within a certain time period after you suffer an injury, or else lose your rights.

But you might not know that some states also have a “statute of repose.” This is a law that usually applies where someone is injured by a product, and it says that any lawsuits have to be brought within a certain period of time after the product is first sold – regardless of when the injury occurs.

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What happens if children are hurt on someone else’s property?

It’s not uncommon for children to wander onto someone else’s property because they want to play with something they see there … and to get hurt as a result.

Of course, such children are “trespassing” in a sense, since they don’t have a legal right to go onto someone else’s property. But younger children usually don’t understand about property rights; they just want to play around something interesting, such as an old car, a discarded appliance or a swimming pool.

And the law is often on the children’s side. In fact, in many cases, the law says that landowners have a legal duty not to allow hazardous things on their property if a child might see them, wander over and be injured.

There’s even a formal legal name for dangerous things that entice children in this way: “attractive nuisances.”

Of course, that’s not to say that a homeowner can’t have a swimming pool in the backyard or keep an old car in the driveway. But property owners do have to take reasonable precautions to prevent injuries to children, even children whom they didn’t invite onto their land.

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Business owners should be careful when making loans to a company

If you own a business and you plan to loan money to the company, consult an attorney such as Slusser Law Firm in Hazleton, Pa., about the paperwork. Otherwise, the IRS could claim the money wasn’t a loan after all, and come after you for additional taxes.

Fred Blodgett found this out the hard way. Blodgett owned a small company (an S corporation) that sold architectural glass blocks. When the real estate downturn hit, he supported the company by transferring money to it from a family trust. He called this a loan. In subsequent years, the company paid him about $60,000, which he called a loan repayment.

Not so fast, the IRS said. According to the IRS, the “loan” wasn’t a loan at all, but a simple contribution of capital. And the “repayment” was actually just ordinary wages for the manager of the business. Therefore, the IRS claimed, the company owed more than $13,000 in employment taxes and penalties.

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The Slusser Law Firm

1620 N. Church Street, Suite 1
Hazleton, PA 18202
570-453-0463
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