Who to Blame? The Use of Accident Reconstruction in Court

Who to Blame?
The Use of Accident Reconstruction in Court

When dealing with a complicated auto accident, figuring out who is to blame can be a tricky and confusing process. Insurance companies will often deny liability in cases that are simply one person’s word against another’s. That is why for today’s blog, I will be discussing a field of forensic analysis called accident reconstruction. An accident reconstructionist can assist in getting the facts straight to make sure you receive the proper verdict.

This type of analysis can offer expertise that an average police official cannot. Typically when an officer records an accident report, they will report basic information “to satisfy a city or state’s statistical need,” and to determine if any “traffic laws have been violated.” However, that documentation nothing more than one person’s guess about what happened, and may not even be admissible in court. This is where an accident reconstructionist comes in handy. Most reconstructionist have the credentials to scientifically evaluate and organize the technicalities involved an accident and to produce an accurate account of what caused a crash. An accident reconstructionist recognizes small details such as tire marks, and dirt furrows that can fade soon after the accident Features such as these can be vital “clues” when solving a case.

People who practice this profession typically work with attorneys, insurance companies, and law enforcement agencies. The costs to employ them varies based on the time they spend working on your case, cost fluctuates based on time and the level of expertise.

When it is clear that the fault of an accident is up in the air, this type of expert has a skill set that can solve the issue. In both hearings and in court, These professionals have the ability to collect evidence and utilize modern day technology to compose diagrams and animations to illustrate facts significant to the case. In the end they produce a report that is logical and succinct.


Be Aware While at College

Be Aware While At College

Yesterday, I received a phone call from a parent who was anxious about some trouble her son had gotten into last semester in college. While discussing the situation, it became apparent that the act he was facing legal consequences for had been one that at least five of my friends dealt with while I was in college.

This conversation led me to start thinking about the criminal issues that college students are more likely to face while in a University setting. Whether it is because the police are specifically looking for students committing certain crimes, or due to the alcohol factor, the following list, albeit not all inclusive, includes crimes and criminal acts that parents might want to give their kids a lecture about before departing for the Fall semester.

Here is a list of common offenses perpetrated by college students:

• Public urination: This act is more common than you might think. It is the self-explanatory act of urinating in an area that is “not a restroom.” Public urination is typically regarded as a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine that varies amongst jurisdictions. Some states, however, consider this act to be a sex crime.

• Public intoxication/Disorderly conduct: This is the act of an individual being a threat in public to himself or others while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is often a late night or game day issue on campus, but common nonetheless.

• DUI/DWI: Driving under the influence (DUI) in Maryland is when an individual operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher. Driving while impaired (DWI) is the operation of an automobile with a BAC rating of .07. If you are a person under the age of 21, then you can receive a DUI for a BAC of .02. Maryland has a zero tolerance policy. A quick drive from a bar to your dorm is not worth what lies ahead if you are charged.

• Minor In Possession: This is when an individual under the age of 21 is either in the possession of alcohol or is caught using false identification to obtain it. Penalties for this offense vary based on age grouping. If one is over the age of 18 but under the age of 21, a common population on campus, possessing alcohol can result in up to a $500 fine, which can increase for repeat offenders.

• Possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia: Marijuana is an illegal drug that is easily obtainable and commonly used around college campuses. However if you get caught possessing either in Maryland, you will risk a maximum sentence of one year in jail, and up to a $1,000 fine. If caught with a large enough quantity of the drug, it is possible to face punishments for possession with intent to distribute, which can lead to both much larger fines and longer sentences.

• Hazing: “”haze” means doing any act or causing any situation which recklessly or intentionally subjects a student to the risk of serious bodily injury for the purpose of initiation into a student organization of a school, college, or university”(stophazing.org) If an individual proceeds in the act of hazing, they risk up to $500 in fines and 6 months in prison. This act comes up in the news quite often, whether in clubs, fraternal organizations, or the school band.

• Noise ordinance violation: All it takes to break this law is for a dorm, apartment, or house to be too loud. Each university and neighborhood has laws regarding what violates the allowed decibel level. If the noise ordinance is violated, offenders are usually given warnings. In the case of repeat offenders, they can be fined various amounts based on jurisdiction. (forensiccolleges.net)

• Jaywalking: This term refers to the careless crossing of streets. If a pedestrian crosses with out the right of way, they can be ticketed and fined.

• Assault: Oftentimes, crowded parties and bar scenes can result in ugly fighting. Assault in the state of Maryland can be classified in the first degree or second degree. First-degree assault is when a person purposely injures or attempts to injure someone else physically. Assault in the second degree is the act of touching somebody else in an unwanted manner. Punishments for these actions include up to 25 years in prison for first-degree assault, and 10 years for assault in the second degree.

• False identification charges: Students in colleges around the county use fake ID’s to get into bars, parties, or just to purchase alcohol. In doing so, however, lies much risk. This is the act of falsifying an identity in order to pose as somebody else. This act in all states is punishable by both fine and imprisonment.

As these are the most common legal offenses facing the college youth, it is important to be cautious and be aware of what you are doing. Return back to school wiser, and be careful.

Work cited: http://www.forensiccolleges.net/blog/2010/10-common-crimes-committed-in-college/





The Influence of Speed Cameras

The Influence of Speed Cameras

This week’s blog challenges the widespread addition of speed cameras in neighborhoods, communities, school zones, and interstates. My focus is to determine whether or not this type of technology is positive or negative. In other words, do speed cameras actually incentivize and increase safe driving, or is it merely a technique for the government to vacuum more money out of citizens’ pockets?

On one hand, speed camera promoters such as John Damskey, Director of the Montgomery County Police, advocate for an increased number of speed cameras. According to his argument, he insists that areas which utilize this technology exhibit a “22 percent decrease in driving speed around the proximity of its location” (http://camerafraud.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/the-truth-about-montgomery-county-maryland-speed-cameras/). Damskey continued to support his cause through a compelling piece of data that suggested Montgomery speed traps have sparked a “50 percent decrease in fatal car accidents.”

Although the points offered by Damskey appear to justify the installation of more devices, it is important to be cautious about these figures. One must take into consideration the phenomenon of people slamming on their brakes when approaching a camera zone. This frequently creates a backup where speeds are 10 MPH or more under the limit. The issue is that statistics do not always tell the full story.

In relation to the 50 percent reduction in fatalities, the research was conducted in the timespan of only one year. Damskey conveyed this evidence over two six month periods, meaning, in a way, records could be handpicked to better show the facts he wanted people to believe. This is not to say Damskey or speed cameras are giving fraudulent information, but this illustrates that as a society, it is crucial to be educated and ask questions.

Perhaps there is a more effective option. If the state’s true desire is to provide the safest roads, then they can exploit this technology’s potential in a different way. For example, check out this idea that is being tested across the Atlantic . http://dailycrowdsource.com/20-resources/projects/312-sweden-tests-speed-camera-lottery.

In Sweden, the government is experimenting with a theory based on a reward system. It is simple. Drivers who do not speed are entered into a lottery, while the fines collected by speeders are gathered into the potential winnings. If the government truly believes in these cameras, maybe they should adopt a similar policy and reward safe driving. This can theoretically establish safer roads, while subtracting the pest value of these traps. What do you think?

Sources: http://dailycrowdsource.com/20-resources/projects/312-sweden-tests-speed-camera-lottery
The Truth About Montgomery County, Maryland Speed Cameras

Why should you hire an attorney?

I received a phone call recently from a lady who had just been in a car accident, let’s call her Ms. Smith. Clearly there were more questions than answers on her end about the entire process and the steps that needed to be taken. As I discussed the situation further, it seemed likely that she was not interested in hiring an attorney, but she instead wanted some advice on how to pursue a claim. Finally, the conversation turned a corner. Ms. Smith turned the tables and asked “alright Mr. Posner, you have given me all of the information I think I need, so why should I hire you?” This is not the first time I have been asked this question, nor will it be the last. Therefore, I have penned a list of the top reasons why a victim of personal injury should retain an attorney.

1. Deadline to File a Lawsuit

If you’ve been injured in an accident, there are often time limitations on your right to file a lawsuit. These limitations are called statute of limitations and notice requirements, and vary from state to state Notice requirements are especially technical, and must be sent to specific people or governmental entities, and must contain very specific information. Some notice requirements, for example, must be fulfilled within 120 days of an accident. Hiring a competent attorney that you trust is the first step to making sure that all notices and filings have been properly and timely filed. Otherwise, you could forever lose the right to pursue your claim.

2. Important Steps Immediately After an Accident

After a car accident, it is the often the reaction of a victim to go home and wait before anything is done with the case. In reality however, an immediate investigation as to the cause of the accident may be the difference between a successful claim and a failed claim. By hiring a competent attorney, you will get witness statements, preserve evidence, and be organized from the start to preserve all claims that you can make.

3. Dealing with Insurance Companies

When a person gets injured in an accident, it is highly likely that insurance companies, both yours and the negligent driver’s, will begin to immediately ask questions. One must remember that the main goal of any insurance company is to save money. Therefore, they want to settle your case for the lowest amount possible, if anything. Dealing with insurance companies brings pressure that most people are not accustomed to, especially after a traumatic accident. Hiring an attorney takes that burden off of the client. A seasoned attorney knows what questions will be asked and how to answer them. Don’t let inexperience adversely affect your ability to get resolution of a claim.

4. Dealing with PIP Issues (Personal Injury Protection)

After an accident, an injured party likely has immediate needs. This may include lost wages, medical bills, rehabilitation costs, or even funeral costs. Retaining counsel and allowing them to deal with the paperwork and organization of the PIP process allows the client to concentrate on his own recovery, as opposed to forms and filings.

5. Don’t Let the Insurance Companies Give Lowball Offers

A primary reason for insurance companies contacting the injured party immediately is in an effort to procure a small, and oftentimes, undervalued settlement. In order to obtain a truly fair settlement, you must take into account all injuries suffered, property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This is not always apparent immediately or soon after an accident. Hiring legal counsel allows for an experienced attorney to take everything into account, including their own expertise and experience in dealing with the different insurance companies, and determine that appropriate amount that you deserve. Most importantly, a seasoned attorney can properly advise you as to the legal value of your claim. The insurance companies will try to lowball you—not because they are bad people, but because they are trying to protect the interests of their shareholders. You should have someone to protect your interests. If the insurance company is still trying to get away from what is proper, an experienced attorney will know to file suit and take them to court. A good and well-prepared attorney will plan to go to trial whether they believe the case will settle or not.

6. Your Main Concern Should Be Your Health

The most important thing after a personal injury accident is your recovery. Without a representative on your behalf, in injured party must deal with the insurance companies, scheduling appointments, pay bills, deal with missing work, and deal with pain and suffering all at the same time. Hiring an attorney takes most of that burden away. A legal representative can deal with the insurance companies, your PIP coverage, assist in recovering for missed time at work, and assist in handling your case in general. Once an attorney is hired, the burden is taken off of the client’s back and put squarely on the attorney’s shoulders, allowing the client to concentrate on physically improving.

7. Maximize Your Recovery

An accident, whether automobile or other personal injury, can have a profound effect on a victims life. Missed time at work, medical bills, inability to perform necessary duties, and pain and suffering are just a few of the burdens placed on a victim who has been injured due to the negligence of another. Hiring an attorney will put you in the best position possible to recover for all of your injuries and losses. Don’t allow yourself to be cheated out of what is owed to you. Maximize your case to the best of your ability. Hiring legal counsel can put you in the best position to do so.

8. Deal with Paperwork

Not only will your attorney take care of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim, but he will order the police report, obtain all medical records and bills, stave off the bill collectors, deal with insurance companies, and make sure that you don’t miss any bills.

9. Maximize your Settlement by Reducing your Expenses

Many people don’t realize that some services are negotiable. Attorneys are experts at reducing your existing expenses, such as medical bills and medical liens. A small reduction in the amount charged by your health care providers can make a big difference in your bottom line.

10. Best Chance for a Positive Outcome

Although no attorney can guarantee an outcome, hiring a diligent legal representative will put you in the best likely scenario to recover. Using knowledge of local laws and ordinances, information on insurance companies and experience dealing with similar situations, an attorney can best put you in a position to maximize your chances for recovery in your personal injury matter.