What If I’m Intoxicated and Injure Someone in an Accident? Frequently Asked Questions You May Have

According to the United States Department of Transportation, over four million American adults admitted to driving under the influence in 2010. If you’ve recently been involved in an automobile accident while you were intoxicated, and the other driver was injured, you may be concerned about what to do next. From making sure you take the correct steps at the scene of the accident to working with your attorney in the weeks and months afterward, here are a few questions you may have if you are intoxicated and injure someone else in an automobile accident:

What Steps Should I Take at the Scene of the Accident?

If you’re involved in an automobile accident, whether you’re inebriated or not, it is important to take very specific steps to protect yourself. First off, never flee the scene of the accident. Chances are you will be apprehended, and fleeing will make the penalties much more severe. Also, it is critical that if you are injured, you call for emergency services immediately. Your well-being is more important than any potential financial or criminal consequences.

If you’re okay, remain at the scene and only ask the driver for their name and insurance information. Whatever you do, do not apologize or admit fault. The other driver could hold this against you if you are brought to court. Once the authorities arrive, it is your choice whether you take a field sobriety test.

However, remember that if you refuse to use the breathalyzer or take any field-sobriety tests, you will receive a ticket for not complying, and you could be held responsible later for refusing the test. Also, during the commotion it is important to take photos of the accident and write down your account of events, including the names of any witnesses, the address where the accident took place, and your side of the story.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer?

Before you hire a lawyer, speak with your insurance company. Depending on your policy and insurance provider, you might be given a car-accident attorney to cover all the aspects of your case. However, if your insurance policy doesn’t cover your legal fees, it is important you go ahead and hire a lawyer who specializes in automobile accidents.

Your lawyer will provide you with invaluable information to help you during every step of the process from the first court appearance thorough the trial and any aspects involving criminal charges. Do not go through this process alone. Instead, secure an attorney to help you through this complicated ordeal.

What If I Don’t Have Insurance?

If you don’t have insurance and are involved in an automobile accident, your personal financial responsibility will depend upon several factors. The biggest factor is whether or not you live in a no-fault state. If a state has “no-fault” laws, it means that the injured parties must collect compensation for their injuries and the damage to their vehicle from their own insurance company. Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, and New Jersey are examples of no-fault states.

Unfortunately, if you live in a state that assigns fault in automobile accidents, and you are found liable, you will be held financially responsible for the other driver’s injuries.

Regardless of whether you live in a no-fault state or a state that establishes fault in automobile accidents, it is important to hire a lawyer immediately. Remember, even if the other driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying their medical bills, you might still be taken to court because of the accident. A lawyer’s assistance will be critical if this occurs, so don’t hesitate, and contact a professional immediately after the accident.

Being involved in an automobile accident if you are inebriated can be scary, and it is important you know what to do next. From documenting the accident to hiring an attorney, it is important you take the necessary steps to protect yourself. 

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3 Rules For Filing A Lawsuit Against A City Government

The legal rules that you have to follow when you’re filing a lawsuit are always complex. But you may be familiar with the basics of a personal injury suit if you’ve been involved with one before or if you frequently follow the details of such cases. However, if you’re considering a claim against a government entity – for example, if you sustained an injury on city property that occurred because the property wasn’t being maintained properly, and you’re considering suing your city government – then the rules will be different from the rules that you may be familiar with. Take a look at some of the things that you should know about filing a lawsuit against a city government.

Immunity

Before you get started, you should probably make sure that the government isn’t immune from being sued for your injury. In some cases, the government is immune from personal injury lawsuits that a private citizen would not be immune from.

There are two situations in which your city government might be immune from your lawsuit. One is if your injury was caused by a planning decision. This means that while you might be able to sue for an accident on a staircase if the staircase is damaged or defective, you can’t sue them simply because you wouldn’t have had the accident if they hadn’t put in the staircase in the first place. You also can’t sue for discretionary positions. That means that if your accident was caused by a government employee’s actions, but that government employee was executing a statute or regulation and used due care when they did so, they are not liable.

Notice of Claim

Another thing that you should know about suing your city government is that you can’t just file a lawsuit without first taking a preliminary step. You will need to present a document called a Notice of Claim to every individual or government entity that you’ll be naming in your lawsuit.

The Notice of Claim is not a document that’s filed with the court, though you will want to keep a record of it. Instead, you’ll need to mail it to each person or entity involved. In some locations, you’re required to send the notice by certified mail, but even if you’re not required to, sending the notice by certified mail is a good idea for your own records. Once you’ve sent the notices, you’ll need to wait the amount of time specified by your state laws before filing your lawsuit. If you file too soon, the court will dismiss your suit and you’ll need to do it all over again after the time has passed.

Statute of Limitations

Speaking of time limits, you’re likely to find that the statute of limitations is different for an injury lawsuit against the government than it is for an injury lawsuit against a private citizen. It’s always a good strategy to file a lawsuit as early as possible in any case – your best chance of collecting good evidence and getting witness depositions while memories are fresh is to act quickly.

But when it comes to lawsuits against a government, it’s especially important to act quickly, because if you don’t, the statute of limitations could easily pass you by. For example, in the state of Georgia, you would normally have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit, but if you’re planning to sue a city government in Georgia, you have to file the notice of claim within six months of the injury. Keep in mind that if you’re filing a wrongful death suit, you have six months from the date of the death, not the date of the injury that caused the death. If the injury and death occurred on different days, that can be important.

You can be sure that if you’re suing a city government, they’ll have lawyers to defend their interest, and those lawyers will know all of the legal rules. Your best bet is to hire a local personal injury lawyer who has experience with suing government entities so that you’re not at a disadvantage in court. To learn more, click here for info.

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First-Time Maryland DUI Charges: 4 Benefits Of Choosing A PBJ Agreement

Getting arrested for a DUI charge can come with many negative aspects on your life. If you’re a first-time offender, this can be a really scary time that is filled with a lot of questions, fears, and concerns about the future court proceedings. Instead of going through the traditional process, Maryland has a special condition known as a PBJ. The “Probate Before Judgment” clause gives you the option of agreeing to a guilty plea and quickly ending your case. Instead of fighting the charges in court, there are four benefits of pleading guilty and agreeing to a PBJ. A DUI attorney can help you get this agreement and ensure that everything goes smoothly if you decide to do so.

Quick Court Proceedings

Going to court for a DUI case can take a lot of time and resources. You may have to pay legal fees, visit the court multiple times, and possibly lose time at work to attend court hearings. The PBJ process can happen early in your case and eliminate a lot of these court dates. A lawyer can enter a request for a PBJ during one of your earliest hearings. Once it is entered, a judge can agree to it and go through with the sentencing process. For first-time offenders, this can help reduce a lot of the stress that comes with attending court.

No Jail Time

One of the other biggest benefits of agreeing to a PBJ is that you pretty much know the exact sentencing that you will be getting. By making this agreement, you will be placed on probation for a set amount of time. This means that you can avoid jail time all together and go on with your basic routines. This is ideal for people with jobs or families that they need to support. The probation terms may also include other things like community service or drunk driving educational courses. You can work with an attorney to find out the different agreements of a probation, including the length of time that the probation will last.

Removal From Record

Even though you are technically pleading guilty in a PBJ agreement, the charges and guilty plea will be completely removed from your record. This has several advantages, including for any background checks that you need to undergo in the future. For example, if you trying to get a new job, the DUI charges will not appear on your background check. The charges are not removed from your record right away. After the probation period has ended, you will have a court meeting where the judge will agree that you have met the terms of the agreement and then will remove your charges from your record. This is one of the biggest payoffs from choosing a PBJ agreement.

Car Insurance Prices

Along with removing the charges from your record, these charges will not impact your car insurance prices if you choose a PBJ agreement. This can make a huge difference in the money you’re spending on car insurance on a daily basis. After getting convicted of a DUI, insurance prices can rise up to $5,000 in some cases. You can avoid these extra costs with a PBJ agreement. Getting a PBJ early in your case will help prevent the case from moving forward and impacting your car insurance prices at all. Because the charges are completely removed from your record, you have a second chance to drive responsibly, learn your lesson, and save thousands of dollars in the process.

It may be hard for you to agree to a guilty plea because you want to naturally fight the charges, but the benefits can often outweigh your pride. Receiving advice from a DUI attorney from a firm like Chichester Law Office can go a long way in making your final decision and having proper representation in the case.

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Cancer Diagnoses and Medical Negligence

Many doctors will try to provide their patients with some hope of getting better, even when the diagnosis is far from promising. Providing hope is a way of giving compassionate care. Also, hope can give patients the strength to deal with difficult cancer treatments. However, if the doctor lead you to believe the condition of your loved one was not as grave as it truly was, you can sue the doctor for medical negligence.

 

Medical Negligence And Omission

Medical negligence is described as an action that occurs outside of the duty of care that is expected of a doctor. This means that the doctor fails to provide the proper care for a patient or decides to offer treatment that is not consistent with care that other physicians would provide. If these actions worsened the medical condition, caused the need for added treatments, or created unnecessary pain, then they can be sued for negligence.

For example, a doctor informs a patient that they have stage one pancreatic cancer and says that the newest treatments are promising. While new treatments may be promising when it comes to pancreatic cancer, research shows that 97% of patients will die within five years of their diagnosis. If the doctor fails to mention this to the patient, this may be seen as an omission. If the patient decides to put off treatment because of what the doctor said, then this may increase pain and lead to the need for more aggressive treatments. This is grounds for a medical negligence case.

 

While omission may not have been the goal of the doctor,  if the patient is confused either because important information is not communicated or it is not communicated clearly, and if pain and other medical issues are increased in consequence of these actions, then the patient may have the basis for a lawsuit.

 

Establishing Your Case

If you feel that you have a case for medical negligence suit, there are a few things that have to be established with your medical malpractice attorney. There must be proof of a doctor/patient relationship. There also needs to be documentation that the care provided by the doctor was below the accepted standard of medical care. It must also be clear that the doctor’s medical negligence was the cause of increased harm to the patient, and that harm needs to be quantifiable.

 

The Standard of Medical Care

One of the most difficult things to prove in a medical negligence case is that the doctor failed to provide the “standard” of medical care.  The lawyer must first establish what the medical standard of care should have been in your situation, and then has to show concrete evidence that the doctor fell short of that standard. This is usually done by bringing in a medical expert who will establish what the standard of medical care is in the case of a cancer diagnosis. Then the expert will need to show that your doctor’s negligence lead to more pain and suffering for your loved one.

 

To help your lawyer, you will need to provide specific details about what the doctor told you and your loved one about the diagnosis.  Gather all documents and communications about the diagnosis and treatment. You will also need to show the damages that the doctor’s negligence caused. These damages can take many forms: lost wages for both you as caretaker and your loved one, present and future medical expenses, and the mental and physical pain that both you and your loved one have experienced since the diagnosis.

 

If you think you have a medical negligence case, consider consulting sites like www.snyderwenner.com to find a medical malpractice attorney.

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Yard Sale Injuries: 3 Factors That May Impact Your Case

As spring rolls through and the weather gets nicer, the amount of yard sales increase across the country. While yard sales, garage sales, and flea markets are great places to get bargain prices, there are also some risk factors that could lead to an injury. If you’ve been injured at a yard sale or similar event, there are three factors that may impact your case. By working with a personal injury attorney, you can have your case represented and use evidence to help seek a settlement for your injuries.

Homeowner Liability

When you’re browsing a yard sale area, you are often entering the private property of a resident. By inviting the public to their home for a yard sale, it often makes them liable for any conditions or injuries that may occur. Slip and fall accidents can easily happen at a yard sale based on numerous conditions. For example, a lawn may have a large unmarked hole that you trip in. A driveway could also have a small pothole that causes an injury. If there were no safety markers or warning signs, it could have presented a danger for visiting guests.

The set up of the yard sale could also be a cause of the injuries. For example, if a table is overloaded with items, it could fall over or collapse while you’re browsing through the sale. The dangerous conditions could make the home owner negligent and liable for any injuries that have occurred. Images and witness statements can often be used as valuable proof when something like this occurs.

Manufacturer Liability

In many cases, it’s hard to determine how well a product works when you’re purchasing it from a yard sale. Product defects in items like electronics, appliances, and sports equipment could all lead to injuries after you’ve purchased them and used them at home. Just because you bought them at a yard sale doesn’t mean that you cannot seek damages for the product defect. In a case like this, a personal injury attorney will often seek a product liability case against the manufacturing company rather than the person who sold it to you.

Even if you are not purchasing the product brand new, you are still protected through product liability protections and may have a settlement case for any injuries that have occurred. During this type of case, a lawyer will use the item to showcase why the defect occurred and how it was due to the manufacturing process and not just wear and tear on the item.

Third-Party Liability

Yard sales can get crowded quickly and unlike a retail store, there is often not a lot of off-street parking available. When parking along the side of the road or at the edge of a driveway, you are often in a dangerous position that can lead to an injury through a negligent driver, poor parking by other drivers, or bad markings by the yard sale hosts.

If you’re involved in a car accident or some type of parking injury, then your lawyer will often determine who the guilty party is before proceeding with a settlement case. For example, if you were trying to get out of your vehicle and a car came zooming by, it may hit your car door or you. That driver may be held liable in the case. Poor parking conditions or dangerously labeled parking areas could make the yard sale hosts liable in the case. For example, if you park in their driveway and a car hits you while you are parked, the home owners may be liable because it occurred on their property.

Yard sale cases can become complicated due to multiple factors. By working with a personal injury attorney, you can break down the case and your injuries to make things more clear-cut and move forward as needed.

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4 Questions for Finding a Good Motorcycle Accident Attorney for Your Case

When seeking compensation for injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident, you need an attorney who has experience with these kinds of collisions. While any personal injury attorney may be legally able to represent you, one that specializes in motorcycle accidents will be most qualified to argue your case. A motorcycle accident attorney will be familiar with the nuances that are unique to motorcycle accidents as compared to generic auto accidents. Here are four questions you can use to find just such an attorney.

1. What is the number of motorcycle riders you’ve represented in the past year?

This question helps you avoid hiring an attorney that only occasionally takes on a motorcycle-riding client. Personal injury attorneys that only dabble in motorcycle accidents will have represented just a few motorcycle accident victims in the past year. Attorneys that exclusively represent bikers will have represented several, at least.

You don’t need to hire an attorney who has represented dozens or hundreds of motorcycle accident victims. A lawyer with a small practice may not have lots of cases, but they should have a decent amount of experience. If they answer that they’ve only represented one or two bikers, move onto the next potential attorney. If they answer that they’ve represented at least a handful of bikers in the previous 12 months, ask them the next question.

2. How long have you been representing motorcycle riders?

This question gives you a picture of how experienced a motorcycle accident attorney is. By hiring an attorney who has represented motorcycle riders for at least three to five years, you’ll benefit from the lessons they learned while working on other motorcycle accident cases.

3. How much does your typical case settle for?

Don’t expect a motorcycle accident attorney to have lots of cases that settle for millions of dollars. In 2013, settlements for personal injury cases (which include motorcycle accident victims’ cases) averaged just $24,000. You shouldn’t just go with the attorney who has the highest average settlement.

Instead, you should hire an attorney who has cases that settle for amounts comparable to what your settlement may be. For instance, if you only have minor injuries, you may want to look for an attorney who has settlements around $24,000. An attorney who specializes in cases that have larger settlements might not spend much time on a small case like yours. Conversely, if you have lifetime debilitating injuries, you may not want a lawyer who has typical settlements of just $24,000. You might want an attorney who has experience with bigger cases like yours.

4. Are you part of any professional organizations?

Any attorney you hire should be a member of and in good standing with your state bar.

Additionally, you should seek out a motorcycle accident attorney who participates in the American Association of Justice and the trial lawyers association in your state. The former is a respected group of accomplished attorneys, and the latter is a statewide organization of trial lawyers. If your case goes to trial, you’ll want an accomplished attorney who has trial experience.

If you’re considering seeking reparations for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, take your time to find the right motorcycle accident attorney. Don’t necessarily hire the first one in the phone book or the first one you talk to. Take your time to interview several, asking each of them these four questions. Settlements take a long time to arrive at, even if they don’t go to court, and taking some time to find the right lawyer for your case won’t delay the process too much. It will, however, make sure you have the most qualified attorney representing your case.

To get started, speak with a representative from a firm like Scherline And Associates.

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2 Mistakes Young People Commonly Make After An Auto Accident & How To Avoid Them

While vehicle accident rates are often alarming high during any given year, auto collisions and the injuries and deaths associated with them skyrocketed in 2015. Statistically, young people, especially teenagers, are more prone to being involved in auto accidents for a variety of reasons, including lack of experience on the road. However, not every accident that involves a young driver is their fault. Lack of driving experience also means that many young drivers have not developed natural defensive driving skills that help protect them from bad drivers on the road of all ages. This can make them more susceptible to being hit by another vehicle.

If you are in your late teens or early 20s, then you need to know what to do after you are involved in an accident, because it will likely occur at some point. Taking the right steps after the collision can help you avoid accidentally taking the blame for an accident that was not really your fault or not receiving important compensation due to an injury it caused you. Avoid these two common mistakes made by young drivers after being involved in their first auto collisions.

1. Immediately Accepting Fault for an Accident When the Police Officer Files Their Report

Every state has its own requirements about if and when a vehicle accident needs to be reported to the police. For example, any accident in Ohio, no matter how small, needs to be reported immediately, while many states require reporting only if property damage exceeds a certain dollar amount, and the drivers involved in it the accident have several days to report it. Make sure to know your state laws and memorize them or write them down to reference after an accident occurs.

If your state requires that the accident be reported immediately, then an officer may visit the accident scene right after you call, speak to you and the other party about what happened, document the situation and damage according to what they see, and possibly take some photos. This is what is considered an official report. If an official report is filed by a police officer who visited the scene of an accident, then the facts and statements that he or she documents will then carry a lot of weight in the final decision of the insurance adjuster, and later, a judge during personal injury court proceedings if they occur. This means that if an officer visits the scene of your accident, it is a very important time to set the record straight about what happened to cause the accident and the damage that occurred. While you should treat the officer in a polite manner and answer all of their questions, you should never tell the police officer that the accident was your fault, even if you think it may have been.

Why? You really never immediately know all of the facts about what contributed to the accident. For example, the other driver may have been making an illegal turn when you ran into them, which would make them at fault even though you thought that you were because you ran into them. Or, the other driver may have been speeding or under the influence of an illegal substance. If you admit fault and later realize the other driver actually caused the accident in a way that was not immediately obvious to you, then you cannot take back your statement, which was then recorded in the most important document filed detailing the accident.

Many states also don’t always decide one party is at fault and the other is free and clean of any wrongdoing; instead, they divvy up who is at fault by percentages if each driver made mistakes that led to the accident occurring. However, if one driver made the only mistake that contributed to the accident occurring, they will be considered 100-percent at fault. If you live in one of these states and decide to take the blame for the accident, then this may result in the officer or insurance adjuster not looking at all contributing causes to the accident in depth and realizing that both you and the other driver played roles in it occurring.

2. Ignoring Injuries You Think Are Minor That Occur During the Accident

Simply due to the fewer years you have been alive, you likely haven’t experienced as many injuries as someone who is older. People who have lived longer lives and have experienced more injuries often realize that what starts as a slight ache or pain immediately after physical trauma can turn into debilitating pain over the course of just a few days. For example, if you ever strained a muscle when playing a sport, you may have been able to finish the game and even continue your day feeling relatively no pain, but then woke up the next morning with intense pain and swelling that lasted for months.

Along with minor injuries that have delayed onset pain, there are also many more severe injuries that cause this delayed pain, including spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and nerve damage. This is why it is very important to visit the local emergency room after a vehicle accident. There,  the doctors are trained to help you determine whether that little ache in your neck is likely going to go away or is linked to a more serious injury that just hasn’t caused intense pain yet. Having this injury documented by physicians immediately after your accident instead of when pain does become severe later can help you avoid the chance of the insurance company attempting to blame your injury on something that may have occurred after your accident. Just as importantly, a visit to the doctor for a diagnosis of what is causing an ache or pain after the accident will give you peace-of-mind when you then know how severe your injury really may be and that you are receiving proper medical attention for it.

While no one hopes or expects to be in an auto accident, it is important to develop a plan for what you will do (and won’t do) after you are involved in one. Write your plan down now while you are thinking clearly, and keep it in your vehicle to pull out after an accident when your nerves are rattled. Keep the name and phone number of a good auto accident or personal injury attorney on this paper as well, or in your phone, so you can call their office with any additional questions you have after the accident.

For extra information and more about this topic, talk with a professional personal injury attorney. 

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