Posts Tagged With: Automobile

Automobile Accidents: How you can be compensated for your losses

ImageEvery ten seconds someone in the United States is involved in a car accident. Today, cars are made to crumble upon impact. Cars are designed this way so that the driver and passengers are better protected from personal injury. While cars have come a long way in safety, unfortunately, many car accidents still result in death and serious injury. In fact, automobile accidents give rise to the majority of personal injury claims in the United States.

The law of negligence typically governs the legal claims arising from automobile accidents. Negligence consists of: duty, causation (legal and proximate), breach and damages. In the automobile context, automobile drivers owe a duty to exercise reasonable care in operating their vehicle. The failure to exercise reasonable care results in a breach and thus, raises an inference of negligence. The Plaintiff bears the burden of proof in a negligence action which means he must prove the Defendant breached his duty of care and that his breach was the proximate cause of the accident and the actual cause of the Plaintiff’s injuries.

Courts look at several factors to determine whether a driver was acting negligently in the operation of their vehicle. Failure to exercise reasonable care may be found where the driver: disobeyed traffic laws or signals, failed to signal while turning, drove above the posted speed limit, and drove under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Negligence is not the only legal theory of recovery for your personal injuries resulting from an automobile accident but it is the typical avenue to pursue when trying to recover for your personal injury damages. Call Daniel Selwa today to discuss your case.  Attorney Selwa offers free consultations to determine if the other driver’s negligence will allow you to recover monetary damages. Don’t let your medical bills and property damage bills overwhelm you, instead pursue your case with Daniel Selwa so that the at fault driver has to compensate you for your damages.

Categories: Insurance Companies, Personal Injury, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What to do if you are involved in an automobile accident

One week before the South Carolina Bar Exam, my friend was struck by another car driven by a drunk driver. At the time of the accident, the roads were very wet due to the steady flow of rain. She told me how the impact of the hit and the slippery roads caused her car to slide several feet. A sense of panic and fear overwhelmed her as her car slid closer and closer to oncoming traffic. The sense of relief was even greater when finally; her car came to a halt. Soon after, she pulled over and so did the other car that struck her. The woman driving the car that hit my friend stumbled out of her vehicle.  Unsteady and shaky, my friend went on to tell me that she dialed the police immediately. The woman proceeded to plead with her to let her pay and leave. Quickly, my friend became aware that there was a strong possibility the woman might flee the scene of the accident. As she was talking to the police on the phone, she had the forsight to take down her tag number and noted the make and model of her car. So what was the outcome? Long story short, she didn’t flee, the police showed up, wrote a police report, searched her vehicle and arrested her.

Based on my experience and the law, I want to give you some advice regarding what you should do if you are involved in a car accident. First and foremost, don’t leave the scene of the accident. You can face criminal punishment for leaving the scene of an accident, particularly where injury is involved. Note, however, if you are involved in a car accident and you are in a remote area, proceed cautiously. It may be best to drive to the closest police station or public area to call the police.

Next, make sure to check on all the drivers and passengers. If someone is injured or trapped in a vehicle, you want to call for medical attention immediately. If everyone is okay, call the police.  It is important to obtain a police report of the accident so that if you have to be appear in Court, you have proofof the accident. It would also be wise to exchange information from the other driver and passengers involved in the accident. But, when conversing with the driver and passengers, be sure not to say too much. You don’t want to apologize for anything, if you do, that information could be used against in a Court of law.

Pictures, pictures, pictures! If you are able, take pictures of the damage at the scene of the accident. These pictures can serve as significant proof of who was at fault in the accident and how the injured party should be compensated.

When a police report is filed, insurance companies are usually contacted immediately. If you are the at fault driver, consult an attorney before you contact your insurance company or provide statements to any other insurance company.  Likewise, if you are not the at-fault driver, it would be advisable to contact an attorney to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of.  Remember one thing, whether your interest in this information is for criminal defense purposes or for personal injury purposes: Insurance companies are in business to make money, not help people.  Money is priority number one.

If you are injured in the automobile accident, it is extremely important to keep track of your medical treatment. You should keep a diary containing notes of all your doctors’ visits and referrals. You should also keep an itemized list of all the medical expenses you have incurred.

Lastly, don’t give up. Law enforcement and insurance companies alike may give you a hard time in pursuing your case. But, remember, you do have a case, if your property or person was injured at the hands of another or if you are being charged with a criminal driving offense, Daniel Selwa will work hard to help you.

Categories: Criminal Defense, Insurance Companies, Personal Injury | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How your defense attorney can exclude evidence found in your automobile during a search

Most of us have been pulled over by the police at some point in our lives; some of us have had automobile stops resulting in the issuing of a traffic ticket while others have been released with just a warning.  Police Officers must have reasonable suspicion to pull a person over. Reasonable suspicion requires specific and articulable facts taken together with rational inferences from those facts that lead the police to believe that a law is being broken or has been broken by the suspect.

Furthermore, the police may search a vehicle without a warrant.  Generally a warrantless search is per se unreasonable and violative of the 4th amendment. However, there is an automobile exception that allows for the search of a vehicle without a warrant. But, in order to conduct a warrantless search there must be probable cause to believe the automobile contains evidence of a crime and there are exigent circumstances arising out of the mobility of the automobile and its likelihood of disappearing if the search is not executed immediately. The Court will look to the attending circumstances to determine whether the police officer had probable cause to search the vehicle. If the police are to conduct a warrantless search they must only reach to the areas of the vehicle that they have probable cause to believe the contraband or other evidence may be found. If the police illegally obtain evidence (without probable cause) from an automobile vehicle, it is inadmissible in both state and federal courts against the defendant whose rights were taken away.

For example, a police officer may lawfully stop you when he believes you have been drinking based on the fact that you have been swerving all over the road. If the officer finds a beer can in plain view in your cup holder he may then search for more evidence of beer in your vehicle any where beer may reasonably be concealed. But, that is all the police officer may search for, legally. In a recent South Carolina case, State v. Brown, the Court held in this case that a bag which appeared to be a gym bag or a duffel bag used to travel, should not have been subject to the search.  The Court reasoned that the bag was zipped up and appeared to carry clothing. The Court further noted had the bag looked like a grocery bag, the search of the bag would be proper because you would expect to find beer in a grocery bag. In this case, the police officer found cocaine in the duffle bag and sought to introduce the evidence at trial. The court ultimately held the search of the duffle bag was improper and thus the evidence of cocaine must be excluded from trial.

If you have found yourself in a similar situation where a police officer searched containers or areas of your vehicle unlawfully, then contact Daniel Selwa to explore your available options. Where the evidence of an unlawful search is excluded from trial, the charges against you for possession of that contraband must be dropped. Without a skilled criminal defense attorney, you could face serious fines and possible jail time.  Contact criminal defense attorney Daniel A. Selwa, II today.

Categories: Criminal Defense, Search and Seizure | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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