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South Daytona Legal Blog

Protecting your rights after a car accident

When you experience a car accident, it is not always simple to know how to respond. In the moment, emotions can flare up, and otherwise reasonable people might say or do things that do not represent how they handle themselves normally.

Unfortunately, those who do not protect themselves at the scene of a car accident may have much greater difficulty seeking fair compensation for the accident later on. In some cases, merely saying the wrong thing at the scene of the accident may indicate acceptance of liability to another party in the accident.

Things to consider before speaking to police

Whenever you encounter a police officer, it is important to understand that everything you say may qualify as evidence against you in court, whether you believe you are guilty of a crime or not. While this primarily applies to official interactions with police, such as a traffic stop, all interactions with police carry the same possibilities.

The law only requires you to give an officer your name and show an official form of identification. It is rarely wise to completely refuse to speak after giving an officer your name. However, any questions an officer asks may elicit answers that suggest you are guilty of a crime. The less you say, the less evidence there is against you, so keep this in mind.

When do police have to read your Miranda rights?

As a tourist, you may find yourself face-to-face with police for a variety of reasons, some valid and some less so. Unfortunately, police interactions are not always the way that television and movies portray them, and some police may attempt to place you at ease so they can continue to gather evidence against you without your knowledge. If you do not know your rights and when they take effect, you may incriminate yourself unfairly.

In general, an officer must read a suspect his or her Miranda rights if the suspect is both in custody and under interrogation. However, if a suspect is not yet placed in custody, an officer may freely ask any number of questions, gathering evidence through technically legal but deceptive means. Be sure that you understand you have the right to remain silent once you give an officer your name and show the officer your identification.

Is a parts manufacturer responsible for your car accident?

Not all car accidents result from a driving error or hazard on the road. In some cases, a car accident may occur because a part of the vehicle itself malfunctions, such as a failure in the brake system or the power steering, or a transmission that suddenly fails. As we move into the future with self-driving cars, the possibilities for manufacturing errors causing accidents may continue to rise.

A car accident that occurs because of a part failure may justify a manufacturer liability lawsuit to cover the damages. In these lawsuits, a plaintiff does not need to accuse the manufacturer of any specific wrongdoing, they only need to demonstrate that the malfunctioning part was already in the vehicle when they purchased it, that they were using the vehicle in the way that the manufacturer intended it to be used, and that the failure of the part caused damages that can be compensated.

What is a pretrial diversion?

A pretrial diversion is an important legal alternative to conviction that many defendants overlook when preparing their defense. When a prosecutor or judge agrees to a pretrial diversion, a suspect does not face a criminal trial or plea bargain that results in a conviction. Instead, the suspect agrees to complete some alternative punishment or rehabilitation program in return for dropped charges.

A very basic version of such a deal occurs regularly when a driver facing a speeding ticket attends traffic school in order to have the ticket dismissed. However, there are other forms of pretrial diversion that may apply to a number of different charges, both misdemeanors and felonies. In misdemeanor cases, these programs usually last between six month and one year, whereas felony pretrial diversions typically last between one and two years.

Did the police have the right to stop you? How to know

When you're driving, the police do not have a right to stop you unless they have a legitimate reason to do so. For instance, if you're speeding, you're violating the law and can be stopped by law enforcement.

Stopping your vehicle is different from searching it, too. Although an officer might find a reason to stop you, that doesn't mean that he or she has a right to search your vehicle.

Reasons a prosecutor may drop charges

When a person receives criminal charges, this does not mean that the person in question is guilty. In fact, many criminal charges get dismissed before they ever reach trial or sentencing, depending on the facts of the arrest in question and the perspective of the prosecutor assigned to a given case.

Prosecutors retain a significant amount of power to reduce or dismiss charges if doing so aligns with the their principles and priorities. It is useful to consult with an attorney who understands the political and professional landscape of the local justice system when you receive charges, to help you asses how your case may potentially benefit from an understanding of these principles and priorities on the part of a prosecutor.

Is an airline liable for all injuries suffered on an aircraft?

When you choose to travel with an airline, you have an expectation that the personnel who assist you on the plane and the pilot are all capable of doing their respective jobs properly, especially as it relates to your safely. However, if you suffer an injury while on board a commercial aircraft, it is not always simple to know who holds liability. Airlines, often described as "common carriers," bear a number of responsibilities to their passengers, but those responsibilities have very strict limits.

In general, a common carrier may bear responsibility for an injury a passenger suffers due to some failure on the part of the personnel or pilots serving the passengers. This might include improperly packing luggage, failing to maintain clear aisles or poorly performed maintenance on the craft itself. A pilot also bears a great deal of responsibility to operate the craft properly and avoid unnecessary risks in the course of the takeoff flight and landing.

Can police always legally search your vehicle?

When a police officer stops you, it is important for you to understand your rights under the law, especially when it comes to your right to privacy and security. While a police officer does bear a responsibility to uphold the law, he or she does not bear a responsibility to explain the law to you, and may even have grounds to lie to you in certain circumstances. This particularly true when an officer wishes to search your vehicle during a stop.

Police may not simply search a vehicle without proper justification. An officer may have the legal right to search your vehicle without your permission if he or she

  • Has a warrant to perform the search
  • Has "probable cause" to believe a search will reveal evidence of a crime
  • Has reason to believe that you pose a threat to the officer or others

Do you understand the difficulties of driving a commercial truck?

When you share the road with large trucks, especially on large, multilane highways and interstates, it is crucial that you understand the difficulties that commercial truck drivers face, for your safety and the safety of other drivers. Driving a large truck is fundamentally different from driving a consumer vehicle, but far too many drivers behave around large trucks as if they are not difficult to operate and pose no greater threat than any other vehicle on the road.

In reality, driving a large truck is far more demanding than driving any consumer vehicle, even a very large consumer truck or SUV. These trucks are far heavier than consumer vehicles and require significantly more room and time to safely brake to a stop. Furthermore, these vehicles operate in a completely different way than a consumer vehicle, because they are two separate pieces that drive as one but may move independently. This requires much more room to make turns, especially right-hand turns. Commercial drivers also have much less visibility of the road directly beside them and behind them, and depend on other drivers to stay out of their blind spots.

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