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Vancouver Washington Legal Blog

DUI crashes kill three and injures six

Divided highways are designed in part to minimize head-on collisions. Highway 14 in Vancouver is such a roadway, but, on the morning of February 11, two separate head-on collisions on Highway 14 took the lives of three people and injured six others. Both accidents have been preliminarily blamed on drunk driving.

The first accident occurred at 1:16 a.m. just east of the Columbia House Boulevard Interchange. A vehicle heading west in the eastbound lane struck an eastbound vehicle. The driver of the eastbound car died at the scene, as did a woman who was a passenger in the wrong-way vehicle. The driver of the wrong-way vehicle and another passenger were transported to a nearby hospital, where the driver died from injuries. Washington State Police said that they believed the driver of the wrong-way vehicle was drunk at the time of the accident and that charges had been pending when the man died.

Alcohol blamed for 3-vehicle collision in Vancouver

Driving under the influence of alcohol has been preliminarily blamed by Washington State police as the cause of a 3-vehicle accident. The accident happened on Highway 500 near its intersection with I-205 on Feb. 2, 2018. The driver who initiated the collision has been charged with drunk driving.

The DUI suspect was heading west on Hwy. 500 at about 10:40 p.m. when he lost control and crashed into another car. The driver and a pedestrian of the first car were standing in the roadway surveying the crash scene when a third car smashed into the rear end of the first car and pushed it into the pedestrian. The DUI suspect and the bystander were taken to a hospital, where they were treated and released. The two other drivers were not injured. The car driven by the suspected drunk driver was totaled, and the other two vehicles were towed from the scene.

Should I have a living will?

Most Washingtonians understand the need for a testamentary will, i.e., a will that provides for the distribution of a person's property after death. But, very few understand the nature of a living will or the reasons why a person may wish to create one. Living wills are now regarded by most estate planning experts as an essential part of any estate plan.

The term "living will" generally includes two kinds of documents. One is a Health Care Directive. A health care directive expresses the drafter's wishes for medical care when death is near and when the person is unable to make crucial medical decisions themselves. The directive becomes effective only when a physician confirms the patient's condition is terminal or when two doctors confirm that the patient has no hope of regaining consciousness. A common purpose of a health care directive is to authorize withdrawal of care when the person has no hope of recovering from the disabling condition or illness. As with testamentary wills, the drafter of a health care directive must be at least 18 years old and must be able to comprehend the nature of the document. The signing of the directive must be witnessed by at least two people over the age of 18.

Accident on I-5 bridge attributed to alcohol

Accidents in Washington that involve alcohol entail potentially serious legal consequences. For example, a recent accident on the I-5 bridge connecting Portland and Vancouver has been blamed on drinking and driving.

According to a report, the defendant was driving his pickup south on I-5 when he allegedly smashed into the left-hand guard rail on the bridge spanning the Columbia River. The truck then careened across all three southbound lanes and struck the right-hand guardrail. When it finally stopped, the truck was blocking the entire southbound lane. The passenger in the truck was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation and treatment of unspecified injuries. The driver was not injured.

What are my responsibilities as the executor of an estate?

When a loved one passes away, it can be quite difficult to settle his or her estate. The process of actually getting the right assets to the appropriate beneficiaries can be quite complex, and there may be disputes over the estate. If you learned that you are named as the executor of an estate, you may find it beneficial to seek guidance as you navigate this process. 

Most Washington readers may not understand the roles and responsibilities of the executor of an estate. You may not know what to expect from this process, and even an inadvertent mistake can lead to complications and unnecessarily lengthen this process.

Relocation of homeless day center approved

Any time a governmental unit proposes building or moving a facility to assist the poor, the proposal is certain to stir controversy. When the city of Vancouver proposed moving the city's center for the homeless to a vacant building formerly used by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, many people voiced their opposition, while others supported the proposal. The recent decision by a neutral hearing examiner to approve the move has now sent the controversy to the city council for final resolution.

Opponents of such projects often make arguments heard elsewhere: The project will lower real estate values in the neighborhood. Overcrowding will result. Criminal activity will increase. These arguments were also made in opposition to moving the homeless center, but they were rejected by the hearing examiner. The hearing examiner relied on Washington state court decisions that have held that community opposition without evidence showing that the property does not meet the criteria for approval cannot alone justify rejection of a local zoning or land use decision. Instead, the examiner relied on testimony given by witnesses who have firsthand knowledge of the plight faced by the homeless in Vancouver.

Drunk driver crashes van into house in Washington County

Most residents of Portland and Vancouver expect to be safe and secure in their homes at 1:30 a.m. A resident of the Cedar Hills area had his expectations dashed when police knocked on this door at 1:30 a.m. and told him that an SUV with a drunk driver behind the wheel had smashed into his house.

Officers responded to a call and found a Honda Odyssey with its rear end resting against a corner of the house. According to police estimates, the driver of the van was traveling about 70 mph as he tried to negotiate a sharp curve. The driver lost control of the van, and it hit a tree. After hitting the tree, the van spun around and came to rest leaning against a wall of the house. In addition to the driver, the van was carrying two males. Both passengers were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of their injuries, none of which appeared to be life threatening. The driver, a 21-year-old male from California, was charged with drunk driving, assault and criminal mischief.

Will all my debts be discharged in bankruptcy?

One of the common questions asked by Washingtonians considering bankruptcy is whether all of their debts will be wiped off the books, or discharged, to use the technical term. The answer is "probably not." Congress has determined that, for reasons of public policy, certain types of debts cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. Those reasons can be quite complex, but an enumeration of debts that cannot be discharged can provide helpful guidance.

The exemptions vary for individual debtors, depending upon whether they filed under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. The most common exemptions from discharge are listed in Sec. 523 of the bankruptcy code. These include debts owed for unpaid taxes, customs duties, money or property obtained by fraud, debts not disclosed on the debtor's bankruptcy disclosure forms, and money owed as a fine, penalty or forfeiture. Another important category of debts excepted from discharge include damages owed for death or personal injury caused by the debtor's operation of a motor vehicle or boat while intoxicated. Many potential bankruptcy filers are especially interested in discharging debts created by a recent divorce. Domestic support obligations, including child support and alimony, cannot be discharged.

Alcohol blamed in truck roll-over that killed one, injured two

The arrival of the holidays in the Portland-Vancouver area also means the arrival of more impaired drivers behind the wheel. A tragic prelude to this year's holiday season was provided by a 21-year-old driver who was allegedly drunk when he rolled his pickup truck and killed one of his passengers.

The accident occurred just north of the Salem suburb of Keizer in the early morning hours of December 17. According to police, the owner of the truck admitted that he consumed three beers before getting behind the wheel. The probable cause statement used to support the arrest warrant also said that the young man admitted to losing control of his truck as he drove through a curve. The truck rolled over and trapped one of the passengers inside. Another passenger was thrown out of the truck and suffered fatal injuries.

The many people who fulfill the wishes in your estate plan

If you have a title in your job, you know that often that title doesn't carry much clout. While it may bring with it a slight raise in pay, it mostly signifies the responsibilities you have in the business.

Now that you are considering making your estate plan, you may be encountering the titles for many different people who may be involved in your plan. Mostly, these are fiduciaries, who are people holding a special level of trust. Their titles obligate them to look out for your best interests. As you plan your estate, it may be helpful to have a better understanding of the roles each of these fiduciaries plays in the smooth administration of your estate.

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