What Is The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Litigation?

We have heard the aforementioned question from our clients many times before. Currently, the United States legal system has to divisions: criminal and civil. Litigation is a term that simply refers to bringing someone to court in order to resolve a dispute.

The first major difference between a civil court case and a criminal court case is who is the plaintiff (the wronged party). In a civil case, the wronged party (whether it be an individual or a business) is the plaintiff.  In a criminal case, the plaintiff is the State (where the alleged misconduct took place) which is usually represented by a lawyer (sometimes referred to as prosecutor or district attorney).

The second major difference between a civil court case and a criminal court case is the level of standard of proof. In civil cases, plaintiffs need to convince the judge or jury of something called “preponderance of evidence” which is a fancy way of saying they need to show that their evidence is more convincing than the evidence of the defendant. It does not mean that the plaintiff has more evidence, just that the plaintiff has more accurate evidence. According to Cornell University Law School, that “preponderance of evidence” means that at least “50 percent of the evidence points to something.”  However, this is very different than criminal cases where the State needs to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant committed a crime. The jury must also come to a unanimous decision.

Confusing? Here’s an example: OJ Simpson was found NOT GUILTY during his criminal case because the prosecutor could not convince a jury that he committed a crime without any reasonable doubt. However, Nicole Brown Simpon’s family sued OJ for wrongful death and accused him of being liable for her death. Because the family only had to show “preponderance of evidence” OJ was found GUILTY in his civil case.

Which brings us to the third major difference between a civil case and a criminal case: punishments. In a civil case, the defendant, if found guilty, is usually ordered to pay some sort of compensation to the plaintiff. In a criminal case, the defendant, if found guilty, could serve jail time, probation, or pay a fine.

How Wearable Technology Is Impacting Personal Injury Claims

Google and Fitbit announced that they would be teaming up to make wearable technology that will ultimately improve the quality of healthcare. According to the official press release distributed by the companies, Fitbit will have access to Google’s Cloud Healthcare API which will allow healthcare professionals access a patient’s electronic medical records in real time. Statistics from FitBit such as patient’s movement, heart rate,  and sleep patterns will be joined with Google’s EMR with the intention of helping healthcare professionals have as much information as possible to lead to more personalized treatments.

While ideal in theory, how much data can be stored, accessed and used are not fully available to the public. Nor is there a timeline on when this technology will be available to healthcare professionals but there are already many legal ramifications speculated.

One of the most likely scenarios is the impact on a personal injury plaintiff’s damages. A personal injury attorney will argue that the injury to his client has impacted them to the point of not being able to sleep, walk, or stand. Many insurance companies do not want to spend the resources to hire a third-party investigator to follow the client around. But with wearable technology now measuring distance walked and sleep duration, it will be easy to contest.

However, whether or not Google will provide this information outright without being subpoenaed is up for debate.

What To Do After Your Identity Is Stolen

Do you suspect that your identity has been stolen? Well, you need to take steps to prevent the theft because it might cost you a lot of money or prison time if not handled correctly. Here’s what you need to do if you find that your identity has been stolen.

Notify The Bank And Creditors: If your bank account or credit card has been affected, you need to close them immediately. Contact the bank or credit card company and notify them immediately.

Place A Fraud Alert On Your Credit Card Report: You should contact the credit reporting agencies and request for a fraud alert which will be placed on your credit files. It lasts 90 days after which you can extend after filing a police report on the matter or the FTC complaint form.

Assess Your Credit Reports: Once the fraud alert is issued, you will be removed from preapproved credit cards or insurance policies. Check your credit card reports thoroughly to identify any signs of fraud. For instance, are there new accounts that you didn’t open? Are there payments that you can’t account for? Is there any personal information that seems strange to you? Report anything that seems unfamiliar to allow the proper agencies to track the crime.

Credit Freeze: You should consider locking down all your credit card information. That way, the reporting agencies will not release your information to any creditors. If you can prove that you’re a victim, a credit freeze will be free.

Contact the FTC (Federal Trade Commission): Federal investigators look through the larger and sophisticated cases. However, they always check through the minor cases to discover any patterns that might break identity theft crime rings. If you’re a victim of identity theft, fill out the form available on the FTC website. You can provide the form to your credit companies for further investigation.

Police Report: Also, you need to alert the police in your city about your identity theft case. It’s important to get a police report of the case. Together with the FTC for, you can pursue the case with the financial institutions and make a valid claim. In the police report, you should list down all the accounts with fraud and provide as much evidence as possible. You can also present the police with the FTC form for further investigation.

Finally, you should change all the passwords to your financial accounts but don’t use obvious passwords that can be easily cracked.

The Ethical Dilemma Behind Personal Injury Ads

When you think of personal injury ads, you think of cheesy late night commercials. Cellino and Barnes, probably two of the most famous lawyers in the country thanks to their late-night television ads and beyond catch jingle, would come on screen and talk about mesothelioma or vaginal mesh medical errors. But the world of television itself is diminishing as more and more people are watching their shows through their favorite online streaming service via their mobile device. And our beloved Cellino and Barnes broke up. However, the ingenuity of personal injury lawyers never ceases to amaze us. Leave it to personal injury lawyers to find a new way to reach their core audience.

Thanks to modern technology coupled Google’s search and display network, personal injury lawyers are now capable of targetting ads directly onto users mobile devices as specific locations such as Hospitals, Emergency Rooms, and Urgent Cares, all thanks to Google’s ability to target specific longitude and latitude coordinates also known as geofencing. Personal injury attorneys already have the bad reputation as ambulance chasers but no longer do they need to chase the ambulance. Here, their ads can appear directly to where the ambulances go – no chasing involved.

As unethical as this sounds, state bars have not banned this from happening and nor is this ad placement illegal. Due to location enabled on mobile devices, accessing this data doesn’t violate HIPAA. It’s not uncommon for platforms to use location data to serve ads. A prime example is SnapChat and location filters. But the jury is out on whether or not this strategy is effective in obtaining new clients. Hospitals have more than just people injured by negligence within their walls. Many of the ads will be served to nurses, doctors, and staff costing the lawyers tons of money with very little return. While an interesting idea, it’s just a theory that seems way too unethical for it be used.

Should You Take A Breath Test After A DUI Arrest?

An officer may request that you take a breath test (breathalyzer) if they suspect that you have been driving under the influence as part of a roadside sobriety test. They may also request this test after you have been arrested and charged with a DUI offense.

Contrary to popular belief, breathalyzer test results are admissible in court if the correct procedure for administering the test was followed by the officer performing the test. Requesting this type of test after a DUI arrest or charge is a means to prove or collect more evidence that an individual was driving under the influence.

However, you have the right to refuse to take the breathalyzer test although it is not advisable to do so. Refusal can be viewed as further proof that you were driving under the influence. Certain penalties may also apply to drivers who refuse to take a breath test.

These penalties vary from state to state but in general may involve a driving license suspension, fines and/or some jail time, depending on whether a judge finds the offender guilty of the charges brought against them. The sentence may also be harsher for second or third offenders.

It is not requisite for a lawyer to be present for a breathalyzer test and it can be administered even if you have requested a lawyer and they have not arrived. If at all possible, it is advisable to speak to a lawyer before submitting to a breath test.

However, license suspension and other penalties may only come into effect after a specified period of time within which it is advisable to contact a lawyer to see whether you should contest the DUI charge and present a case as to your refusal to take the breathalyzer test.

Once again, it is not recommended to take this route, even if you have been drinking or were under the influence of another substance while driving. Rather submit to the test and fight the DUI charge using another type of defense with the assistance of a DUI defense lawyer or medical malpractice attorney.

The case may be dismissed due to an officer not following proper procedure during the arrest, charging or test administration process. While breathalyzer tests are accepted in court, they are not always 100% accurate and this can also be used as a defense. It is recommended to request a blood test or have an independent test administered if you feel that the breathalyzer test returned an incorrect reading.

Do Not Throw Out Your Defective Product

If you’ve been injured by a defective or faulty product, the first reaction is to get rid of the thing that hurt you! However, in order to file a successful personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor, you will need to keep the faulty product as evidence. During the discovery process of your trial, your faulty product will be examined to prove there was something indeed wrong with it and there was an error when it was being manufactured. If you discard this evidence, proving your case will be very difficult.

One of the most common issues that we see here at Legome Law is people being injured by defective products but are unable to get the compensation that they deserve because they misplaced or threw out the product that damaged them. While we can bring forth your case, it is much more difficult to prove and you might not get the highest settlement possible from the manufacturer and insurance companies. There is also a statute of limitations on when you can file a lawsuit, so time is always of the essence when handling these types of cases.

There are many types of products that can be defective including but not limited to electronic cigarettes, medical devices, vehicle recalls and defects, dangerous baby products, and kids products (lead exposure), pharmaceuticals, toxic chemical exposure (asbestos) and other products that were simply not manufactured right. If you believe that you’ve been injured by a defective product please don’t hesitate to contact our product liability attorneys.



What Happens When You Violate Probation?

If you were charged and convicted of a crime but managed to escape jail time or have already served your sentence behind bars, then it stands to reason that you should take steps to avoid being jailed. Probation is a way for law enforcement to keep a close watch over offenders who aren’t necessarily a danger to society without having to keep those offenders locked up at taxpayer expense. What happens when you violate probation? Well, the short answer is easy: you’re probably going to jail. So don’t do it.

The long answer is more complicated.

Two types of probation exist: the strict kind, and the lenient kind. If you’re under strict probation, you likely report to a probation officer every so often, and you might have unscheduled visits just to check up on you. You might have a long list of strict guidelines for your probation. For example, stay away from alcohol or other drugs. If you don’t have someone checking up on you, then the only requirement is avoiding arrest.

If you’re under strict probation, then the list of ways you can violate it is a long one. You might be arrested, you might test positive for drugs or alcohol, you might fail your financial requirements according to the law, you might fail to show up for community service or educational programs, or you might fail to keep a meeting with your probation officer. Doing any of these things is bad news.

The good news is this. In Florida, the court system has a great level of control over probation violation penalties. With a good legal defense (and hopefully a reasonable explanation of why you violated probation), you can hope to avoid additional jail time. One of the best outcomes you can hope for is a simple extension of your existing probation. Depending on the original crime and the type of probation, you might only get off with a warning.

Other more lenient penalties involve community service, rehabilitation for substance abuse, or counseling. You may also incur additional fines. If the court decides to revoke your probation, you’ll serve the rest of your original sentence behind bars. Although circumstances can vary greatly, one thing is for certain: you should get yourself a qualified and experienced lawyer.

10 Cars With The Highest Death Rate

If you’re on the lookout for a new vehicle, then be sure to research the safety standards of available manufacturers. Some are obviously safer than others, but numbers are still too high even as your overall chances of a deadly accident have gone down. Here are the ten cars with the highest likelihood of fatality in the event of an accident.

  1. Beware of the Kia Rio. Even though your new car is tiny, it has the highest rate of being involved in accidents with multiple other vehicles. On top of that, there are 149 deaths for every million registered vehicle years.
  2. The Nissan Versa sedan suffers from 130 deaths for every million years, and although drivers experience fewer crashes involving more than one vehicle, your chances of getting into a single car accident are actually higher. You also have an extraordinary chance of rolling over during an accident.
  3. If you own a 4-door Hyundai Accent mini, you’re slightly less likely to be involved in a fatal accident–the rate falls to 120 deaths per million years. The rate of multiple or single vehicle crashes is moderate, as is the number of rollovers.
  4. The Chevrolet Aveo experiences 99 driver deaths per million years, and a high number of accidents with multiple other vehicles involved.
  5. The 2-door Hyundai Accent mini is slightly safer than it’s 4-door alternative, with 86 overall deaths per million hours.
  6. Sports cars can be dangerous as well, if you’re not careful. If you own a Chevrolet Camaro coupe, there are 80 deaths per million hours, and a greater number of single vehicle collisions. Stop tailgating!
  7. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew pickup nets a rate of 79 deaths per millions of hours.
  8. A 2-door Honda Civic has a rate of 76 deaths per million hours, even if it does run for a million miles.
  9. A Nissan Versa hatchback with four doors is a slightly safer option, with 71 deaths per million hours.
  10. The 4-door Ford Focus is the safest car on our list of least safe cars, with a rate of 70 deaths per million hours.

In comparison, cars with the lowest death rates average a zero across the board for deaths per million registered vehicle years, multiple and single vehicle crashes, and rollovers. The Audi wins on that front.

What To Do After A Car Accident

When you’ve been in a car accident, the fight or flight response is activated. Unfortunately, you don’t have the option of fleeing. In this situation, you’re backed into a corner, and you have no choice but to deal with the consequences of unforeseen events head on. Even though your mind is flooded with unbelievable stress hormones, you should immediately make a checklist of the things you need to do.

First and foremost, ensure your own safety. Directly after a car accident, pull off to the side of the road. If the immediate area isn’t safe, try to signal any other drivers involved and pull into a nearby parking lot. If either vehicle is put out of commission and cannot be moved, mark the site of the accident with flares if you have them, and then move to the side of the road.

Once you know you’re safe, immediately alert the police that an accident has occurred. Although the police will try to find out as much as possible about what happened and who was at fault, be careful to limit what you say. Answer questions without elaboration and never admit fault.

If you have a camera, begin taking photographs of the site of the accident–but only if it’s safe to do so. You’ll want pictures of license plate numbers, the vehicle from every angle, and close-ups of any obvious damage to any vehicles involved in the accident. If you were hurt, take a quick picture of your injury.

After that, start trading information with anyone else involved. Find out insurance policy information, and then record license plate numbers and the make and model of the vehicles. If there were bystanders who witnessed the accident, record their contact information. If anyone gives you a hard time about getting information, simply inform the police when they arrive. Don’t risk getting into a heated argument or a physical confrontation. It won’t be worth it in the long run.

In the days following your accident, document medical bills and other expenses. Take pictures of any injuries on a daily basis. Create a journal in order to record your thoughts and feelings and other information about the accident. When you find a lawyer, this documentation can help tremendously.

Common Car Accident Injuries

Most Common Car Accident Injuries

AmbulanceWhen you are involved in a car accident, there is a good chance that at least one of the parties will suffer from some sort of injury. Car accident injuries range from mild, like cuts and cruises, to severe, like spinal cord injuries, and sometimes can result in death. A car accident threatens all areas of your body. Mostly, injuries happen to the upper body. This is due to the force of the airbags and the proximity of the steering wheel, windshield, and front dashboard.

Some of the most common car accident injuries are:

  • Head Injuries
    • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
    • Concussions
    • Skull fractures
    • Brain contusions
  • Back Injuries
    • Spinal cord injuries
    • Fractured vertebrae
    • Herniated disk
  • Neck Injuries
    • Whiplash
    • Muscle, ligament damage
    • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Chest Injuries
    • Bruised or broken ribs
    • Collapsed lung
    • Traumatic cardiac arrest
    • Internal bleeding
    • Damage to internal organs
  • Other Injuries
    • Broken Bones
    • Bruises or cuts
    • Ligament damage
    • Severed limbs
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Car accident injuries can have life altering effects. Some injuries, like spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injuries, can have long lasting effects. Typically, if you suffer a serious injury you will lose time at work and the medical expenses will begin to add up. If this sounds like your scenario, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney immediately. A car accident attorney will analyze your individual case and determine if you are entitled to compensation. Please, do not hesitate to contact an attorney.

If you are wondering how you are going to pay an attorney, it is important to know that most personal injury attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation nor do they charge you for a lost settlement. So basically, you only pay if you win.