Articles Posted in Injury

In most auto accident lawsuits on behalf of the person who was injured or killed, a lawyer will charge a contingency fee.  The lawyer’s fee is typically a standard one third  (33.3%) of the amount recovered, minus  costs and expenses.  Costs and expenses can include the following: filing fees; medical records; expert witness fees; private investigators; deposition fees; trial exhibits; mediation fees; etc.  These costs and expenses may be high, further reducing your potential recovery.  There also may be medical and other liens on the potential recovery that take even more money out of your pocket.  Auto accidents involving serious injuries can be life changing, and every penny that you can save is critical.

What can be done to increase the amount of  your potential recovery?

What if you could hire a great auto accident lawyer, who would take less than the standard one third referral fee?  A lawyer to attempt to broker a lower fee for you at the beginning of the case is the answer.

In Michigan, First Degree Child Abuse is a very serious offense.  According to Michigan Compiled Law 750.136b(2) it carries a possible penalty of life in prison or any term of years.  There are 3 elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial for a conviction to occur:  (1) the Defendant, (2) knowingly or intentionally, (3) causes serious physical or mental harm to a child.  See People v Gould, 225 Mich App 79 (1997) and Michigan Compiled Law 750.136b(2).

The above referenced elements have specific legal definitions.  The phrase “knowingly or intentionally” requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant intended to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child through the Defendant’s act, or that a Defendant knew that serious mental or physical harm would be caused by the Defendant’s act.   “[I]t must be shown that the Defendant intended to harm the child, not merely that the Defendant engaged in conduct that caused harm.” People v. Gould, 225 Mich App 79 (1997).

The terms “serious physical harm” and “serious mental harm” also have specific meanings that are defined by Michigan law.  According to Michigan Compiled Law 750.136b(1)(f) serious physical harm means any physical injury to a child that seriously impairs the child’s health or physical well-being, including, but not limited to, brain damage, a skull or bone fracture, subdural hemorrhage or hematoma, dislocation, sprain, internal injury, poisoning, burn or scald, or severe cut.   Michigan Compiled Law 750.136b(1)(g) defines serious  mental harm as an injury to the child’s mental condition or welfare that is not necessarily permanent.  The mental harm results in visibly demonstrable manifestations of a substantial disorder of thought or mood which significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or the ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life.  In Child Abuse First Degree trials the prosecution often tries to prove this element through the testimony of an expert witness (psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.).

If it is determined that the defendant in a personal injury case was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, the judge on the case will need to determine how much money the defendant needs to compensate the plaintiff for. The compensation amount in a personal injury case is determined by several different factors that should have been presented by the plaintiff’s lawyer in court.

The following are a few expenses that the plaintiff had to cover that will typically be factored into the compensation amount by the judge:

  1. Medical costs– While presenting the plaintiff’s case, the plaintiff’s lawyer will detail all the medical costs that were incurred as a result of the injury. This will include medical costs that have already been incurred and projected medical costs that will be incurred in the future by the injured plaintiff.

In Michigan, dog bite cases are sometimes addressed through civil law proceedings, criminal prosecutions, or both.

Civil Dog Bite Cases

In order for the Plaintiff (injured party) to prevail on a civil lawsuit, generally 4 things need to be proven in order to collect a judgment:

Victims of crime often suffer many forms of mental, emotional, and financial injury as a result of actions of others.  Pursuing justice is often a daunting, intimidating process that can lead a crime victim to feel helpless.  In Michigan, many people are unaware that crime victims have rights that are guaranteed by our State Constitution.

Article 1, Section 24 of Michigan’s Constitution guarantees:
1) the right to be treated with fairness and respect.  That your dignity and privacy will be maintained throughout the criminal justice process;

In many instances a victim pursues a criminal case with vigor and determination to receive justice, and will stop at nothing to have his or her position heard and advanced.  In Michigan a victim has an absolute right to be heard, informed, and consulted with as to the prosecution of the Defendant.  A victim has a right to hire a lawyer to advocate on his or her behalf.

On many occasions a victim regrets the decision to involve law enforcement with an argument or dispute that arose with a wife, husband, fiancée , mother, father, son, daughter, other family member, or friend.  In most cases in Michigan the position of the Prosecutor or city attorney is that they represent the People of the community, and protect the community in general from harms or disturbances of the peace.  A criminal case is never entitled the name of the victim versus the name of the Defendant – it is always the People or City versus the Defendant.  Even when the victim strongly tells the Prosecutor and police that they wish for the matter to be dismissed, the desire of the victim is often not followed.

When a victim’s position is contrary to the Prosecution and police, this is a good time to retain an experienced lawyer.  Victims are often met with disrespect and threats of what will happen if he or she fails to cooperate with the prosecution of the case. The Court itself will sometimes try to place pressure on the victim and the Defendant by establishing stringent bond conditions, such as no contact between the Defendant and the victim with a delay before the next Court hearing.  A no contact provision can create a real hardship, often causing monetary (such as the cost for the Defendant to live in a hotel or elsewhere), emotional, and child care issues.

Contempt of Court is a willful act, omission, or statement that tends to impair the authority or impede the functioning of a Court.  Any allegation of contempt of court will require an effective and experienced lawyer.  There are 3 types of sanctions:

1) Criminal Contempt – Criminal Contempt is intended to preserve the Court’s authority by punishing past misconduct through imposition of a fixed sanction where there is no opportunity or need for the Court to compel the individual or entity’s compliance with its order.  The intent of the person or entity must be willful.  Criminal Contempt sanctions could include a jail term of up to 93 days per single Contempt act and/or fines up to $7500 per single act of contemt , that are intended to punish the behavior.
2) Civil Contempt – Sanctions for civil contempt are coercive and remedial in nature.  They are intended to compel compliance with a Court’s directives by imposing a conditional sanction until the individual or entity complies or no longer has a duty to comply.  The intent of the person or entity can be either wilfull or unwillful.  Civil Contempt sanctions typically include a fine or a jail term that ends when the offending behavior ends, and money damages may be awarded to the injured party.  In Civil Contempt proceedings, the person or entity in Contempt of Court must be given the opportunity to purge himself, herself, or itself of the contempt by complying with the conditions set by the Court to remedy the situation.

Restitution in Michigan is a victim’s Constitutional right and mandatory. It cannot be excluded through a plea bargain or sentencing agreement. It is only awarded if the Defendant is convicted of a criminal allegation related to his or her conduct that gave rise to the restitution.  Restitution even survives the death of the Defendant, and can be pursued against his or her estate. Under Michigan law, the Prosecutor is required to provide information to a victim concerning restitution. The Sentencing Court must order the Defendant to make full restitution as required by law to any victim of the Defendant’s course of conduct that gives rise to the conviction, or to the victim’s estate.

A victim is defined as an individual who suffers direct or threatened physical, financial, or emotional harm as the result of the commission of a crime, juvenile offense, or misdemeanor. A victim also include companies, corporations, government entities, or any other legal entity that suffers a direct physical or financial harm as the result of a crime, juvenile offense, or a misdemeanor. A person who was charged with offenses arising out of the same transaction as the charged levied against the Defendant is not considered to be a victim.
Restitution can be expensive.  For any criminal case in which a large amount of restitution may be an issue, it is recommended that you retain attorney Daniel Hilf of the law firm of Hilf & Hilf, PLC.
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