How Are Personal Injury And Criminal Defense Cases Related?

At first glance personal injury and criminal defense cases have nothing to do with one another. For example, a typical personal injury case arises from car accidents. One person’s negligence results in the accident, and the victim sues. By comparison, a typical criminal defense case arises when the defendant is arrested by police for committing a crime. How could they possibly be related? The truth is these cases often go hand in hand.

For example, let’s say the defendant in the aforementioned car accident case purposely caused the accident. Alternatively, maybe the driver was texting illegally or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These are criminal offenses, but anyone injured in the resulting car accident also has grounds to build a civil case against the offender. This case will be made that much easier if the defendant is found guilty in criminal court. 

The biggest difference between a criminal defense attorney and personal injury attorney is the type of court in which they argue a case. Criminal defense attorneys fight against criminal charges, while personal injury attorneys fight against civil charges. Criminal defense attorneys fight in criminal court, while personal injury attorneys fight in civil court. Generally, you won’t see these two types of attorney mix — even though they’re related because the cases are often related. 

Both types of cases require similar groundwork as well, which means both types of attorneys will perform similar tasks. The first act of business is investigating a claim. Does the claim have merit? Is the person with the claim acting due to actual injury, or might they be lying? Might they be acting vindictively? The answers to these questions matter in court. 

Both types of lawyers will begin to gather evidence and document every aspect of a case. They collect eyewitness accounts, police reports, bills, video surveillance, and explore expert testimony if needed. Criminal defense lawyers will contact the prosecution to explore a plea deal when a client will likely be found guilty of a crime. Personal injury lawyers will likely contact insurance adjusters if a client is entitled to other means of compensation.

Both civil and criminal cases conduct discovery, which is gathering evidence from the opposing side. Generally, an attorney will send someone to conduct an interview with the defendant or plaintiff and the opposition’s counsel. Neither side has the right to refuse the discovery process, but a criminal defense attorney might ask his client to plead the fifth — especially when guilty, but sometimes to legally conceal information that might be interpreted incorrectly in court.

Both types of lawyers might end up arguing a case in court, but both would almost always prefer to settle a case outside of court to save time and money.

Visit our website for more information on how personal injury and criminal defense cases are interrelated. Our network of qualified personal injury and criminal defense attorneys can help steer you in the right direction and find legal representation in every corner of the United States.

Can I Defend Myself In A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Let’s say you were in a major car accident. You don’t believe the facts support the story that you were the one guilty of causing the accident. Insurance companies and police investigators have concluded differently, however. And worst of all, one of the survivors of the car accident has decided to build a personal injury and wrongful death case against you. Is it possible to defend yourself in court?

First and foremost, you should never even consider defending yourself in court — even if you’re a lawyer yourself. For the sake of argument, let’s say you’re a blue collar worker and not a lawyer. This case could destroy your ability to earn money for your family for the rest of your life, and your family is already barely scraping by just below the poverty line.

You don’t know the law. And without knowing or practicing the law, you won’t have any real ability to preempt the plaintiff’s lawyers by intuiting what their arguments will be or knowing how to counter them even if you did. This is the primary reason to hire a lawyer. They know the law! And they’re already accustomed to fighting certain types of cases in or out of court.

If there were mistakes during a police investigation, your lawyers might be able to find them. They might also be able to negotiate with authorities on your behalf. Remember, if the police found you responsible for the car accident, then a criminal case might also be brewing behind the scenes. Your lawyer can find out if that’s what’s happening — but as an outsider, you won’t be able to do the same.

Another important reason to hire a lawyer? They might be able to negotiate a settlement if it turns out you are, indeed, liable for the accident. No one wants to take a chance in court, and you shouldn’t either.

I’m Divorced, But My Ex-Spouse Wants My Personal Injury Settlement!

A reader recently asked a question about what would happen to her personal injury settlement cash, for which she is currently being sued by her ex-spouse. We’ll call the defendant in this case Sue Ellen. The plaintiff is Nash. Sue Ellen wants to know if a personal injury settlement is considered marital property so she knows what to expect in court — how might a judge rule on the lawsuit against her?

We had to do a little digging, but we discovered there was more to Sue Ellen’s story. It turns out she was involved in a fairly horrific car accident. She was severely injured, but eventually recovered completely. Her former husband stood by her. 

This is where the story takes a turn. Sue Ellen decided to launch a personal injury lawsuit against the party at fault for the car accident (which left one person dead, by the way). She won that lawsuit handily. The problem is, she conspired to keep the whole thing a secret from her husband. When it became clear she would win her lawsuit — which was worth six figures — she handed Nash divorce papers. He reluctantly signed. 

Sue Ellen made a mistake by keeping the impending settlement from her former lover. She made an even bigger mistake by failing to mention these assets to her divorce attorney — and to the judge handling their divorce case. The divorce was finalized one year ago.

Now, Nash learned that Sue Ellen pulled one over on him (because a family friend told him she was living the high life). He reacted like anyone would, especially considered he was paying alimony: he filed a personal injury case of his own.

Interestingly, Sue Ellen should be more worried about going to jail than losing her money — because you can’t bring it with you. Should Nash go to the judge who ruled in their divorce case, he could ask for perjury charges to be filed against Sue Ellen. She could also face very steep fines for lying to the court. We’re honestly surprised this hasn’t happened yet, but maybe prosecutors are staying inside with COVID. Time will tell.

And now for the last part of the case. Nash has a better claim to the personal injury settlement Sue Ellen won — but hid — because she decided to break the law by hiding it. Her case certainly isn’t helped by the fact that she only decided to divorce Nash once she knew she would win that case. 

Other factors include state laws determining what might be marital property and what might be personal or separate property. But judges generally don’t rule in favor of those who lie to them in a court of law.

You can view website attorneys to find out if your personal injury claim will end up in your ex-spouse’s hands. It’s always better to get a free consultation and share the details of your case before making any decisions that could change your life for better or worse.

Robert Durst In-Laws Suing Second Wife For Alleged Wrongful Death

Robert Durst passed away only months after he was convicted of murdering confidante Susan Berman. He’s been dead barely two months, and the floodgates of litigation seem to have opened. His first wife was Kathie McCormack Durst, and many suspect he killed her too. Now, Kathie’s family has coincidentally chosen to sue Durst’s second wife — who will likely inherit millions from the real estate mogul. 

The lawsuit posits that Debrah Lee Charatan, Durst’s second wife, was complicit in helping him escape the lawman for the murder of the first wife — something authorities could never prove. 

Charatan’s lawyer, Scott Epstein, said, “The plaintiffs’ claims are at best an example of the most extreme form of speculation and at worst nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to publicly embarrass and extort money from Mr. Charatan, an innocent party, who is perceived by the plaintiffs as a deep pocket.”

He added that the rumors of Kathie’s death were “more suitable for a work of fiction.”

It’s worth noting that the burden of proof falls on the plaintiffs in a civil trial, much as the burden of proof would fall to the prosecution in a criminal trial. The difference, however, is that the plaintiffs don’t need to meet the burden of proving their case “beyond reasonable doubt.” All they need to do is convince a jury that their case is more likely true than not true (or convince the second wife to settle out of course, which we feel is almost as likely).

A previous lawsuit was filed in 2019 and subsequently dismissed by a judge because Durst had never faced criminal charges. He promised to breathe new life into the case should Durst ever be tried for murder — and now he has. It’s too early to know whether or not anything will come from these newly revisited allegations.

Arnold Schwarzenegger At Risk Of Personal Injury Lawsuit

Former California governor and long-time actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was involved in a multi-vehicle car accident in late January, authorities say. One woman driving a Toyota Prius was injured during the collision and brought to a nearby hospital for laceration treatment. The accident occurred at the junction of Sunset Boulevard and Allenford Avenue in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Police Department Officer Drake Madison told Fox News, “There was a four-vehicle traffic accident on Sunset and Allenford at 4:35 p.m….One vehicle on top of another. He said that “one female was transported to a local hospital with an abrasion.”

According to TMZ, Jake Steinfeld was also in Schwazenegger’s car at the time of the accident. There are no signs of alcohol or drug use.

In many high-profile accidents such as the aforementioned, the injured parties are much more likely to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is primarily because of “ambulance chasers,” or attorneys who seek out injured parties for easy out-of-court lawsuits they know they can settle without much of a fight. Celebrities make easier targets.

In this case, though, victim Habiba Muminova turned out to be a huge fan of Schwarzenegger’s. Coincidentally, Muminova’s job actually involves driving clients to doctor’s appointments! Due to the accident — which left her and her vehicle damaged — she is unable to work. Muminova has back pain. It turns out she does expect to contact a lawyer following the accident. She told reporters she thought she was hallucinating when she saw the actor. Schwarzenegger apparently suffered no injuries.

TMZ reported that Schwarzenegger was at fault for the crash. Authorities have yet to comment. 

Schwarzenegger’s bank account can surely afford to take a hit in or out of court, but he recently finalized a divorce that likely set him back a pretty penny.

Los Angeles is one of the worst cities for car owners, who spend more time than average waiting in traffic. For comparison’s sake, NYC ranks number three, and Moscow ranks number two. Drivers might expect to wait dozens of hours in traffic each year. The average LA driver spends an awe-inspiring $1,774 in gas and servicing bills every year simply waiting in traffic. Schwarzenegger was seen riding his bike in the days following the accident.

Were you in a serious car accident? Whether or not you believe yourself to be at fault, you should collect information from witnesses, call the police, notify insurance adjusters, seek medical attention, and find a personal injury attorney for legal advice on possible next steps. You may or may not be at fault, but you might have a personal injury case either way — especially if more than two parties were involved in the accident, or the accident resulted from a defective vehicle.

You Lost Your Personal Injury Claim: What To Do Next

Let’s say the worst happens and you were in a catastrophic car accident. The collision was someone else’s fault — but at trial, the judge ruled against your personal injury claim. Maybe the judge even ruled that you were more likely at fault. All at once, your life might fall apart. What can you do? Here are the next steps.

Chances are you already have a personal injury lawyer. This is a good chance to find out if that lawyer really was the best fit for you and your case. Maybe you can find someone else who appears to believe in your claims.

There’s really only one action to take after losing your personal injury claim in court. You appeal the ruling of the case. Keep in mind that this is a slow, grueling process — and that an appeals court is unlikely to overturn a ruling.

In general, there are only a few reasons why a higher court would overturn a ruling made in a lower court. Usually, a mistake must have been made. Unfortunate though it may be, the appellate court will not reevaluate evidence. Instead, the court will provide additional analysis of the laws involved. 

That’s why most of the best options for next steps don’t involve the courts at all. Seek advice from a financial consultant and take another look at your insurance. Did your car insurance provider find you at fault for the accident? They may have reached a different decision than the court. Either way, you might be entitled to compensation through insurance. 

Another possibility? Sue someone else. Perhaps evidence uncovered during the discovery process points to another negligent party. You might have legal recourse there. 

Speak with your personal injury lawyer regardless of which choice you make. Don’t ignore legal counsel. Remember: these individuals know more about the law than laymen ever could. They will always try to act in a client’s best interests — because it’s in their own best interests to do so.

Who Is Responsible For The Burden Of Proof In Civil Litigation?

Those who don’t practice law are often confused by the phrase “burden of proof” and how it applies to specific parties in court. According to Cornell University, the burden of proof is simply a standard by which a particular party must prove a face in the court of law. The burden of proof doesn’t fall on both defendant and prosecutor/plaintiff equally, though. Where does the burden of proof lie? Is there a difference between criminal and civil litigation? Here are the facts.

Where you live in the United States and which branch of law an attorney practices has nothing to do with burden of proof. For example, a New York business attorney working on behalf of a plaintiff in a civil case will have to meet the same burden of proof as a Los Angeles personal injury attorney working on behalf of a client in a different civil case.

Regardless of whether a particular case is criminal or civil, the burden of proof still falls on the accuser. In criminal cases, this is the prosecutor. In civil cases, it’s the plaintiff. The defendant has the right to defend, but they need not prove their innocence to be found not guilty of criminal or civil liability. 

However, the burden of proof is far greater in criminal court than civil court. What does this mean? Let’s say you’re a prosecutor trying to prove that the defendant committed a murder. Law requires you to prove these facts beyond reasonable doubt.

That means that the prosecutor must completely convince a jury that the facts mean the defendant committed the murder. If there is any room for doubt, a jury must find a defendant “not guilty.”

Now let’s say you’re the plaintiff in a civil case. You’re trying to prove that your neighbor’s dog took a bite out of your thigh. The burden of proof still exists — and the onus is on you to make the case — but you don’t have to prove the facts beyond reasonable doubt.

For example, California Civil Jury Instruction 200 says: “A party must persuade you [the jury], by the evidence presented in court, that what he or she is required to prove is more likely to be true than not true. This is referred to as ‘the burden of proof.’”

In other words, the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s counsel still must convince the jury (in cases where a jury is required) or the judge (in cases where a jury is not required) of the defendant’s guilt. Should the jury or judge be convinced, then it is likely (according to law) that the defendant is actually guilty. Or rather, it is more likely than unlikely. That’s the burden of proof for civil cases. 

This is unfortunate for many defendants who appear guilty but aren’t. It’s also unfortunate for the judicial process in general, because the low burden of proof for civil litigation is one of the reasons why there are so many frivolous cases in the United States. 

Should You Represent A Case Yourself?

Imagine this: Someone tailgates your vehicle on the highway. You need to make a sudden stop. The car behind you can’t stop in time, so they tap your bumper. Even though there doesn’t seem to be any damage, you do it the right way. You call the police. You take the other individual’s information. You call your insurance adjuster to report the accident.

The next day, you see a doctor for minor neck pain. Your insurance takes care of the lion’s share of the cost. You only need to cough up a few bucks for the copay and then a few more for prescription painkillers. 

But you don’t think you should have to pay even a few bucks for an accident someone else caused.

And you’re right! But should you retain a personal injury lawyer for such a small claim, or can you represent yourself in a small claims court to recoup damages? In this case, you might be okay representing yourself. There were no excessive damages. The pain and medical costs were minimal. The police and insurance adjusters both reported the other driver’s fault. A judge will see that — or maybe it’s enough to simply ask the other person to pay for your bills. An out-of-court settlement is always in your best interest, of course.

But let’s say that the driver didn’t own his vehicle or worked for a larger company. You might be better off suing the company — and that’s when you might need a personal injury lawyer. It’s highly unlikely a company will consider a settlement with someone representing their own interests. This is primarily because they know you don’t know the nuances of the law. You can’t do any real damage on your own.

But lawyer up, and they suddenly might be in more of a talking mood. The good news is this. Many personal injury lawyers just starting out are looking for quantity over quality because that’s all there is available before they prove themselves. But those lawyers are qualified enough to handle your case — and you should let them.

Can I Sue Because Of The EMT Response To An Accident?

Earlier in December there was a crash in Massachusetts between a Hyundai SUV and Jeep Wrangler. One was transported to a hospital where she died. The other was a Vermont resident but survived. The deceased is thought to be at fault for causing the accident. Subsequent to the crash, there were whispers that the EMT response may have been partly to blame for the death. Could her family members sue?

The Worcester, MA car accident is only an example. Not every accident is the same. Sometimes the EMT response requires certain actions that other times would not be necessary.

The most obvious thing to do if you believe you were injured by an EMT’s care is to call a personal injury or medical malpractice lawyer — your case could fall under either practice area. Your lawyer will have a number of questions, so it helps if you write down all the details before you make the call. Compile medical bills, witness statements, and write down what police and doctors said after the accident. 

Were your injuries suggestive of the kind of accident you were in? That’s the main question your lawyer will want answered. It’s helpful that your insurance provider will want to answer the same one!

Here’s what you need to know before you make that call: an EMT (and most other healthcare providers) are immune from litigation when the services rendered were provided correctly and to the standard of care expected from a person who provides those services. That means you can’t just sue a healthcare provider because the treatment did not work! Generally, you must prove that a professional acted with negligence before you can sue for a personal injury. The same is true here.

Perhaps your EMT somehow breached the duty of care by performing an unusual action. Your wounds don’t require this type of service. Was that how the additional injury occurred? You might have a case.

Cases like these become even more difficult because the victim is usually unconscious when services are rendered. What do you remember? Write it down. 

Good Samaritan laws usually apply to EMTs as well. These laws generally provide immunity to those who render aid to an individual in need. For example, if you were choking and a bystander performed the heimlich maneuver. The actions broke several of your ribs. You cannot then sue the good samaritan for personal injury — because that person was trying to save your life. When an EMT tries to help you, you cannot later sue because you would not have wanted the help. Your religious beliefs do not apply. 

You can also sue an EMT for causing intentional harm (to you or a deceased family member) because this falls under the negligence umbrella. Like any other case, you must first prove that the EMT actually caused the harm willingly.

Obviously these are difficult claims to prove in court. But personal injury lawyers know how. Think you have a case? Make the call.

Long-Term COVID And When To Sue

Sometimes called “Long COVID,” Long-term COVID symptoms can persist months and years after the initial coronavirus infection. Symptoms in the months after an infection and subsequent recovery can vary from patient to patient, but you should know what they are when you come down with the illness. First things first: being vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from severe COVID-19 and Long COVID. 

Symptoms of COVID include difficulty breathing, fatigue, confusion, persistent or nagging cough, chest pain, stomach pain, headache, heart palpitations, joint pain, diarrhea, fever, dizziness, rash, mood swings, loss of smell or taste, and menstrual period changes. These symptoms can change depending on the variant or whether a person has been vaccinated. 

Many of these symptoms persist for months in some patients.

Many people still compare COVID-19 to the seasonal flu (or even think it’s a variation of the same), but it’s not the flu. The disease caused by coronavirus usually affects the lungs, but it can damage other organs as well — which is why one of the aforementioned symptoms is diarrhea. Sometimes the virus affects a person’s intestinal tract and stomach.

Those with the worst complications might endure damage to the heart, chronic kidney impairment, and even Guillain-Barre syndrome. The latter can cause short-term paralysis. 

The disease can also result in blood clots due to clumping blood cells. These clots can result in heart attack and stroke. They can also damage the legs, liver, lungs, and kidneys. 

Those with Long COVID will often complain of fatigue and require long-term hospitalization in intensive care. This can be costly. 

The bottom line? COVID-19 is still much more dangerous than many people believe — and we still aren’t sure where it all ends. We won’t know the true severity of the long-term effects for years. Will the disease result in a reduced life expectancy for individuals who survive it? Will it result in cancer? We don’t know. What we do know is that the vaccine can diminish many of these symptoms. Go get one.

So far, there’s no one to sue if you get sick — at least not reliably. This is a far-reaching societal problem, probably endemic, and there’s no one party responsible for all the blame.