What the heck is a bolo police term? That is the legal question that spawned this blog. In the legal context, a BOLO has nothing to do with the tie the gentleman pictured below is wearing. No, a bolo is a term of art in police work. It means, “be on the lookout,” and is a common acronym for police officers patrolling the streets who are looking for a criminal suspect.
The seminal case in Georgia on BOLOs is Vansant v. State, 264 Ga. 319, 443 S.E.2d 474 (1994)
In Vansant, a gentleman named John Vansant was arrested for DUI after a concerned citizen called police and reported that Mr. Vansant had gotten into his white truck, backed into a vehicle in a parking lot and driven away. A “be on the lookout” or BOLO was put out for a white van. A police officer spotted a white van, pulled it over, and found an allegedly intoxicated Mr. Vansant behind the wheel. All the police officer knew was that he was looking for a white van. He saw one driving about one mile from where the hit and run incident was reported. The officer did not know or recognize Mr. Vansasnt prior to the stop.
The trial court granted the defense attorney’s motion to suppress all evidence obtained subsequent to the traffic stop, arguing that there was no particularized basis to stop him. The Supreme Court of Georgia held that the trial court was correct to suppress the evidence, noting that the officer had no particularized basis (also known as reasonable articulable suspicion) to stop Mr. Vansant’s truck. Simply seeing a white van driving at 1:15 am in the morning about a mile from where a hit and run was reported is not enough to initiate a traffic stop.
The Georgia Supremes went way back and cited the beautiful language from Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)
“No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law.”
Vansant is the central case on motions to suppress in Georgia. It set forth the legal standards for trial courts when ruling on them as follows:
- A trial court’s findings of fact on disputed issues of fact will not be disturbed unless clearly erroneous (aka the “any evidence” standard of review)
- A trial court’s application of the law to its findings of fact receive a de novo review
So, if you have a DUI or other criminal charge, you are going to want to make sure your lawyer files a motion to suppress and make sure he cites Vansant! It’s the leading case on motions to suppress!Read More
“I’d like to thank the Alimighty God, without whom no case gets tossed.” – Al Pacino, Carlito’s Way
Clients I represent as a lawyer in Columbus, Georgia who are charged with crimes often ask, “how are we going to defend the case?” “What are we gonna do? These are serious charges.” In trying to assuage the concerns of my clients, I often talk about the two primary vehicles whereby I attack the prosecutor’s case.
Motion Practice is the Primary Procedural Device of the Criminal Defense Lawyer
The primary procedural mechanism for defending a criminal case is through motion practice. Namely, the exclusion of evidence under the case law developed interpreting the United State’s Constitution’s guarantees in the 4th Amendment (no unreasonable search and seizures), 5th amendment (no self-incrimination), and 6th Amendments (speedy trial, compulsory process, nature of charges, assistance of counsel, and confrontation of witnesses against the defendant).
These guarantees apply to the states via the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause.
That’s all fine and dandy, but unless you’ve been to law school or are just a history buff, none of that makes any sense. Practically speaking, evidence is excluded through two types of motions:
These two types of motions are distinct, but they do have some overlap and they are sometimes confused as the same concept.
Motions in Limine Exclude or Admit Testimonial Evidence That is Prejudical or Illegal
A motion in limine is a motion that also exists in civil practice. It means “motion at the start,” and is another example of attorneys using latin to make themselves feel smarter.
A motion in limine is a vehicle whereby either side to the case can exclude evidence. Usually, the motion seeks to exclude testimonial evidence. For instance, if you wanted to make sure that a witness did not testify about a matter that you felt was inadmissible, such as the Defendant’s choice to exercise his right to remain silent, you would file a motion in limine asking the Court to enter an order excluding that evidence.
A motion in limine can also be used to obtain a Court order that certain evidence is admissible.
So, if one side wanted to make sure they could admit a certain statement by a witness, that party would move the Court in limine for an order that that piece of evidence was admissible.
Motions to Suppress Exclude Physical Evidence Obtained in Violation of the Law
On the other hand, a motion to suppress is a vehicle whereby the Defendant moves the Court to exclude certain evidence that the defendant feels the police obtained illegally. Usually, these motions are seeking to exclude physical evidence obtained in violation of the 4th Amendment’s bar against unreasonable searches and seizures.
So, a party might attack evidence obtained without a search warrant. Or a defendant might attack the foundation of the search warrant itself by arguing that there was insufficient basis for a magistrate judge to find probable cause in issuing the search warrant.
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Recently, a toll way worker was killed and a state trooper seriously injured after a trucker allegedly drove a commercial vehicle in excess of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.
If these allegations prove true, then if this driver had been following the law, the driver would never have been on the road and the truck accident would never have happened.
Most truck drivers are professional, solid drivers who adhere to the strict regulations imposed on them by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
However, as with any profession, sometimes there are those that cut corners, which can lead to safety violations and risk of injury.
One of the most significant regulations on truckers is the HOS or “Hours of Service” regulations, which govern how long a trucker can drive a commercial vehicle. HOS regulations protect the community against fatigued driving, which is a growing problem on our roads.
Truckers, who often have strict delivery time limits, are often tempted to exceed these HOS regulations in order to meet the demands of a recovering economy.
HOS Regulations in Simple Terms:
- 11 hours of driving time once the trucker starts his/her day
- Cannot drive after the 14th hour of coming on duty (e.g., if the trucker starts his/her day at 6:00 am, he/she cannot drive after 8:00 pm that night)
- Rest period after 14th hour must be 10 consecutive hours before going on duty (some exceptions apply) for a “new” day of driving.
Enforcement of HOS Regulations
- Electronic logs (“e-logs”) are helping truckers and trucking companies adhere to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations concerning HOS
- Trucks have “black boxes” and GPS mechanisms to monitor where truckers are traveling in their trucks
- Supporting documents such as fuel receipts, toll road tickets, and other documents to confirm truth of record duty logs
- Mandates from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires use of electronic logs going forward
Hours of service violations are serious. Violations of these regulations have the highest statistical probability of leading to a trucking wreck involving injury or death. For instance, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations have the lowest intervention threshold for HOS violations (exceeding 50th percentile will lead to intervention by the FMCSA and state Department of Public Safety). This is a lower threshhold than even driver controlled substance/alcohol regulations!
If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident, contact Columbus Georgia Lawyer Mark Jones today for a free consultation regarding your case at 706-225-2555.Read More
The Most Important Factor in Evaluating Your Workers Compensation or Personal Injury Claim by Columbus, Georgia Lawyer Mark Jones
What’s My Personal Injury or Workers Compensation Case Worth?
Lawyer Mark Jones is often asked by his workers compensation and/or personal injury clients in Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama the following question: What’s my case worth? This is a difficult question that depends on the specific facts of each case.
However, in the many personal injury and workers compensation cases I have had to evaluate in my career, one central factor stands out as the most decisive in determining what a personal injury or workers compensation case is worth: the credibility of the plaintiff or claimant.
Credibility of the Plaintiff or Claimant: The Central Factor in Evaluating a Case:
What is credibility? Credibility is just another word for a likelihood that a plaintiff or workers compensation claimant is telling the truth. No one likes to be lied to. In every case, someone is lying – whether intentionally or not.
Judges, jurors, adjusters, and opposing counsel all want to know that the claimant is telling the truth before they award compensation to someone for an injury. Therefore, credibility is a very central component to a case.
Without credibility, there is very little hope of significant recovery. Credibility includes how the plaintiff or claimant presents and their criminal background.
Credibility is so important, Georgia law actually has special rules of evidence designed just to address a witness or party’s credibility. See, e.g., OCGA 24-6-613, which is a rule created specifically to admit evidence that someone said something previously that is inconsistent with the testimony they are giving in Court![gview file=”http://www.lawyermarkjones.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Lawyer-Mark-Jones-Impeachment-OCGA-24-6-613.pdf”]
Another example of the importance of credibility in the workers compensation context is the Rycroft defense. This defense stems from the Georgia Supreme Court decision in Georgia Electric Co. vs. Rycroft, 259 Ga. 155 (378 S. E. 2d 111) (1989).
The Rycroft defense holds that an injured employee will be barred from receiving workers compensation benefits if, prior to being hired:
- 1) the employee knowingly and willfully made a false representation as to a physical condition;
- 2) the employer relied upon the employee’s false representation and that employer’s reliance was substantial factor in the employer’s hiring of the employee; and
- 3) there was a causal connection between the condition falsely represented and the current injury.
Thus, if you already have a bad back, the employer asks you whether you have a bad back prior to hiring, and you lie about having a bad back, if you hurt your back on the job, Rycroft bars receipt of workers compensation benefits.
An example of the application of the Rycroft defense in the workers compensation context is Hagler, J.’s well-reasoned decision in the case below. This case is an incredible read — almost like something off of Jerry Springer!
At one point in the opinion, there is discussion of the claimant body-slamming someone Hulk Hogan-stylee at a bar brawl! How bizarre is that?[gview file=”http://www.lawyermarkjones.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Rycroft-Defense-Award.pdf”] Read More
Three Ways to Attack a Hospital Lien on Your Personal Injury Case – by Columbus, Ga Lawyer Mark Jones
Introduction on Hospital Liens in Georgia
You have just been in a major motor vehicle wreck. You may or may not have health insurance. You go to the hospital after the wreck. You get out. You go home and about 1-4 weeks later, you receive a certified letter from whatever medical center you went to for treatment stating that they have a “lien” for $40,000.00 on any insurance proceeds in your automobile wreck case! Congratulations! You have just encountered Georgia’s hospital lien statute! Hospital liens stink.
They are basically the hospital seeking part of your settlement. You see, hospitals are going broke throughout the state. So, they have to find creative ways to generate revenue. One way that hospitals have developed to obtain revenue is through the vigorous prosecution of hospital liens!
So What is a Hospital Lien?
OCGA 44-14-470, permits a Georgia hospital to file a “lien” on your personal injury settlement or judgment for the reasonable charges of its medical services rendered in treating you for your automobile accident injuries. The statute sets out the procedures to perfect a lien so that the hospital lien is enforceable on your car wreck settlement. See OCGA 44-14-471. The lien is not a debt per se.
The hospital is not putting the lien on your house like the government does with a tax lien. Rather, the lien is simply a way for the hospital to protect its reimbursement interests with the liability company for the person that hit you in the auto wreck. The lien also applies to uninsured motorist proceeds. So what are some ways to attack a hospital lien?
Ways to Attack the Lien
(1) Inspect the Paperwork!
Your attorney should be well-versed in the hospital line statute and the current case law and should insist on strict compliance with the statutory and case law. The lien law is codified in OCGA 44-14-470 – OCGA 44-14-474.
Cases are routinely being handed down on the hospital lien statute because these liens are constantly being litigated as hospitals throughout Georgia try to increase their revenue, to the detriment of the injured person who actually suffered physical and financial harm. Proper adherence to the statute is necessary for an enforceable lien.
In this regard, if the hospital does not strictly comply with the statutory law for perfecting the lien, your lawyer should attack the lien as invalid. This perfection procedure should be strictly complied with since lien laws are in derogation of Georgia’s common law, which does not permit subrogation. See Integon Indem. Corp. v. Henry Med. Ctr., 508 S.E.2d 476, 235 Ga. App. 97 (Ga. App., 1998) (Beasley, J.) (“lien laws and procedures are in derogation of the common law, they must be construed strictly against the creditor and in favor of the debtor”) abrogated on other grounds; see also OCGA 33-24-56.1 (codifying Georgia’s anti-subrogation policy).
(2) Attack the Reasonableness of the Charges!
Everyone knows that hospitals do a great service to the community. They save lives. There’s no doubt about that. But, everyone who has ever visited an emergency room without insurance knows that hospitals charge inflated prices on their bills.
I mean, they really stick it to the uninsured. Your lawyer should carefully examine the hospital bill. Is the emergency room charging this as a level 4 emergency where the patient simply walked into the emergency room? (A level 4 ER visit is just below a level 5 visit, which is where someone is life-flighted to the emergency room). How much is the hospital charging for x-rays?
How much are they charging for purely diagnostic testing versus actual triage treatment? What percentage of the bill is for diagnostic tests that are almost always negative? Your attorney must have experience in really examining these bills, which requires experience in medical billing codes and procedures. You get that only from time spent review countless emergency room bills!
(3) In Case of Emergency, Break Glass!
A final method for attacking a hospital lien is OCGA 9-11-22, the statutory interpleader or the common law counterpart called equitable interpleader. This is akin to going nuclear and hitting that big red button with the sign that says, “do not press.”
If your attorney has received settlement funds or an offer to tender policy limits, and the hospital is being unreasonable in asserting its lien, your lawyer may want to consider the interpleader device. Basically, this is a way to place disputed funds into a court’s registry for the court to decide who has the best claim to the funds. Your lawyer will have the most superior claim immediately via his attorney’s lien. OCGA 44-14-470 specifically makes an attorney’s lien superior to a hospital lien. See also, Ramsey v. Sumner, 438 S.E.2d 676, 211 Ga.App. 202 (Ga. App., 1993) (where settlement funds insufficient to satisfy both hospital lien and attorney’s lien, attorney’s lien wins).
Further, anytime subrogation is involved, the equitable common-fund doctrine should require a reduction of the lien amount to share pro-rata in the recovery. Unfortunately, in Georgia, there is some rather shocking dicta in certain cases, e.g., Watts v. Promina Gwinnett Health System, 242 Ga.App. 377, 530 S.E.2d 14 (Ga. App., 2000), that suggests the common-fund doctrine does not apply to reduce hospital liens pro-rata by the fee you have to pay your lawyer.
The common-fund doctrine simply says that, “a lawyer who recovers a common fund for the benefit of persons other than himself or his client is entitled to a reasonable attorney’s fee from the fund as a whole …” Boeing Company v. Van Gemert, 444 U.S. 472 (1980) (citing Central Railroad & Banking Co. v. Pettus, 113 U.S. 116, 5 S.Ct. 387, 28 L.Ed. 915 (1885)).
This means that the hospital cannot be a freeloader and ride the coattails of your attorney without paying it’s fair share of the costs of procuring your settlement or judgment. Note that the common-fund doctrine would not apply where the hospital’s attorneys have engaged in substantive participation in the litigation.
However, this is quite rare and merely filing a piece of paper or “lien” with the Clerk of Superior Court should not bar application of the common fund doctrine. See generally, GEICO v. Capulli, 859 So.2d 1115, 1119-1120 (Ala. Civ. App. 2002) (discussing the “active-participation” exception to the common-fund reduction).
Hopefully, the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court will revisit the application of the common-fund doctrine in light of recent appellate decisions that suggest the hospital lien codified in OCGA 44-14-470 is no different that traditional equitable, “shoe-stepping” subrogation. See, e.g., MCG Health, Inc. v. Kight (Ga. App., 2013) (“In short, the lien allows the hospital to step into the shoes of the [injured person] for purposes of receiving payment from the [tortfeasor or the] tortfeasor’s insurance company for economic damages represented by the hospital bill.”).
If that is the case, and the hospital lien is nothing more than shoe-stepping subrogation, then the common-fund doctrine must apply, and a hospital must reduce its hospital lien to share pro-rata in the attorney’s fee you pay to your lawyer in your personal injury case.
If you have received a hospital lien on your personal injury case, please call lawyer Mark Jones today for a free consultation! Mark eats, breathes, and sleeps subrogation, and he will fight for you in your case! Call Mark now at 706-225-2555!
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Subrogation stinks. Subrogation is a legal principle whereby an insurance company that has paid your medical bills can seek reimbursement from your personal injury settlement or judgment. This blog by Columbus, Georgia Lawyer Mark Jones discusses three points about subrogation on your personal injury settlement.
(1) Generally speaking, subrogation by anyone other than your employer’s health insurance company is prohibited in Georgia
Georgia follows the made whole doctrine. That just means that Georgia does not permit subrogation by insurance companies that have made health insurance payments from an injured person’s car wreck or slip and fall settlement unless that person is “made whole.” See OCGA 33-24-56.1; Duncan v. Integon Gen. Ins. Corp., 267 Ga. 646, 647 (482 S.E.2d 325) (1997)(insured-claimant’s automobile insurance carrier that paid “medical payments” benefits to insured could not subrogate against insured’s settlement with liability carrier); Thurman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 278 Ga. 162, 164 (598 S.E.2d 448) (2004) (same).
Being made whole means that you have been fully compensated for all your medical bills, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering. OCGA 33-24-56.1. Under Georgia case law, the only real way to be completely compensated is through a special verdict by a jury where the jury lists what it has awarded for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Cf. Paschall Truck Lines, Inc. v. Kirkland, 287 Ga.App. 497 (2007) (settlement made it impossible to determine amounts apportioned to pain and suffering versus medical bills). Since 90% of cases resolve without a trial, generally speaking, this means that an injured claimant will not be made whole by a settlement. Note that Alabama does permit a health insurer to subrogate against a personal injury claimant’s settlement in a car wreck or slip and fall so long as the contract expressly renounces the made whole doctrine.
(2) Generally speaking, subrogation by your employer’s health insurance company will be permitted, assuming the paperwork is in order
If you are like 75% of Americans, you work for a major corporation and if you are lucky enough to have health insurance, you get your coverage through your employer. In this case, assuming the plan documents are in order (oftentimes they are not), your health insurance company may be able to seek reimbursement from your car accident or slip and fall settlement for medical payments it made. This is due to federal pre-emption of state law via the Employees Retirement Income Security Act. Generally speaking an ERISA plan that has been properly drafted will pre-empt state anti-subrogation statutes such as Georgia’ OCGA 33-24-56.1 Of course, the paperwork for the plan must be in order. Oftentimes it is not. You should contact a lawyer such as Mark Jones to obtain the plan documents and review it for compliance under the current case law.
(3) Subrogation may be offset by other coverage you have
Sometimes you may have a valid claim for subrogation made against your settlement. Oftentimes, these”subrogation” claims are being made by low level debt collectors. Ingenix comes to mind here. Quite often, they will reduce their subrogation claim if you hire an attorney well-versed in defending subrogation claims in a car wreck or slip and fall situation. It is important that you hire a lawyer who knows the law in this area. Many attorneys do not understand the law in this area of practice, which is to the detriment of their clients.
If you currently have a claim against your personal injury claim by an insurance company that paid you health benefits, or if you ever hear the word “reimbursement” or subrogation, pick up the phone and call lawyer Mark Jones immediately. He can assist you in reducing or eliminating the claim. Call Mark today at 706-225-2555.
How to Sue the United States for Personal Injury
Introduction: Where There’s a Military Presence, There Are Federal Employees, Which Means There’s Federal Tort Claims …
The two most sued defendants in America are the United States and Walmart. Suing the United States in a personal injury case is not as easy as simply filing a lawsuit. The issue of suing the United States arises anywhere there is any military presence in any city. This is because military bases produce federal employees and installations. Federal employees drive cars that sometimes hit people. Sometimes, federal employees do not clean up the floors of a commissary. This leads to people getting injured, which means that the United States is the ultimate defendant in such a matter.
The Federal Tort Claims Act Permits an Injured Person to Sue Uncle Sam!
In order to sue the United States for personal injury, the injured person, “i.e., the Plaintiff,” must go through an administrative process under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Federal Tort Claims Act is essentially a waiver of sovereign immunity by the United States government. See generally:
- 28 U.S.C. 1346 (b),
- 28 U.S.C. 1402 (b),
- 28 U.S.C. 2401 (b),
- 28 U.S.C. 2402,
- 28 U.S.C. 2671 – 2680
Code of Federal Regulations
- 28 C.F.R. 14.1 – 14.11
Department of Army Regulations
- 35 C.F.R. Part 256
Procedural Aspects of Suing the United States for Personal Injury
Statute of Limitations & the Form 95
In order to actually file suit, you have to go through the administrative procedure involving a Form 95. This is required pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2401 (b). The Form 95 must be filed out completely (28 C.F.R. 14.2(a)), signed by the claimant (Id.), and must demand a sum certain. The Form 95 is a statute of limitations. You must present the Form 95 to the appropriate federal agency within two years.
That tolls the statute of limitations and triggers a moving statute of limitations. If the government does nothing for 6 months, you can file your lawsuit at that time. If the United States denies the claim finally, then you have 6 months to file your lawsuit in the appropriate federal district court.[gview file=”http://www.lawyermarkjones.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/SF-95.pdf”]
The United States must be served within the 6 month window. Weisgal v. Smith, 774 F.2d 1277 (4th Cir. 1985). Both the Attorney General and the US Attorney for the district in which the action is brought. FRCP 4(i)(1).
Mailing is not presentment. Drazan v. United States, 762 F.2d 56, 58 (7th Cir. 1985). Receipt of the Form 95 is presentment. The Department of Army, at least in my experience, is generally good about responding and letting you know whether they have received a proper Form 95 and the statute is tolled.
No Jury Trials
A claim under the FTCA is in front of a judge. There are no juries in FTCA claims. 28 U.S.C 2402.
Relief is limited to money damages. There are no punitive damages. 28 USC 2674.
Controlling Law: the law of the state applies. Richards v. United States, 369 U.S. 1 (1962).
Discretionary Functions Barred
You cannot sue the government for purely policy or “discretionary” functions. 28 U.S.C. 2680(a).
Attorneys Fees: The FTCA limits the recovery of attorney’s fees to 20% of the total recovery.
Conclusion: To Sue Uncle Sam, You Have to Jump Through Quite a Few Hoops
The most important thing about these claims is the Form 95. In Lawyer Mark Jones’ experience in dealing with claims arising on post at Fort Benning, Georgia, it sometimes works best to present a formal demand package with your Form 95. This will allow for the proper evaluation of your claim. Then, you have your six months to file suit.
The last FTCA case I handled, I served quite a few people, including the AUSA assigned to civil claims as well as the Attorney General and the US Attorney for the Middle District.
If you have been hurt on post at Fort Benning or at another military installation, contact Lawyer Mark Jones today for a free consultation regarding your claim. Time is of the essence on these claims! Call Mark today at 706-225-2555.
4 Tips on Giving Recorded Statements in an Car Accident or Slip and Fall Case – Columbus, Georgia Lawyer Mark Jones
Oftentimes insurance adjusters will request that Lawyer Mark Jones’ Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama clients provide a recorded statement to them regarding the injuries he/she received in a car wreck or slip and fall claim. One issue that arises is whether to give a recorded statement.
(1) There is no requirement to provide a recorded statement to a liability adjuster
In Georgia and Alabama, prior to the filing of a lawsuit, there is no requirement for a client injured in a car accident or slip and fall to provide a recorded statement to the liability insurance carrier. In the context of uninsured/underinsured motorist claims, there may be a requirement to cooperate with your insurance carrier and provide a statement. Whether you must provide one in the uninsured motorist context depends on the law of your jurisdiction and the policy language. Consult with an experienced attorney like Lawyer Mark Jones in that regard.
(2) Providing a Statement to the Insurance Company Is Rarely Beneficial to Your Claim.
Lawyer Mark Jones has had maybe 2 cases where the provision of a recorded statement was beneficial. Each of those happened to be with the same adjuster who was simply trying to get the case resolved and had to have the statement to placate management. In theory a recorded statement could also allow you to discuss insurance at trial if the defense attorney introduced the recorded statement, since the recorded statement would necessarily mention insurance. Under the rules of evidence, when a party introduces part of a document at trial, the opposing party can introduce the entire document into evidence. Otherwise, there is no benefit to providing such a statement. It only hurts your case because these statements are often requested very early on in your case when you do not know the extent of your injuries.
(3) Never Give a Recorded Statement Without Your Lawyer Present
The lawyer can keep the adjuster in line during the statement. There are essentially no rules in such a statement so adjusters overreach in those situations. They may ask for highly confidential information such as past medical history, social security numbers, or similar “nunya” info. The adjuster will ask for a “blow-by-blow” recount, which is generally not advisable since most wrecks or slip and falls happen in a matter of seconds. Thus giving a recorded statement is a very bad idea in your case. Most experienced personal injury lawyers will not permit liability adjusters to conduct a recorded statement of their client.
(4) If You Are Committed to Giving a Statement Ask that it be Unrecorded
Oftentimes the adjuster will accommodate you here if you request that the statement not be recorded. This may be a good compromise if the insurance adjuster insists on a recorded statement and you are going against your lawyer’s advice and decide to give one.
If you have been hurt in a car wreck or slip and fall and the adjuster is requesting, please call or text Lawyer Mark Jones to further discuss your rights for free at 706-225-2555.
Easter Egg: attached is an example of an adjuster’s recorded statement script for a slip and fall claim.[gview file=”http://www.lawyermarkjones.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Recorded-Statement-Questions.doc”] Read More
Columbus Georgia Lawyer Mark Jones Discusses: What is an Initial Appearance in a Criminal Case in Federal Court Middle District of Georgia?
1. If you commit a crime (allegedly) on Post at Fort Benning, Georgia, You Will End Up In Federal Court
If you have been charged with a crime occurring (allegedly) at the United States Army Post in Fort Benning, Georgia, your federal felony or misdemeanor case will go to the Federal Court in the Middle District of Georgia, Columbus, Division, (barring some sort of military jurisdiction)
2. An Initial Appearance is the First Step to Your Criminal Case
Criminal defendants are brought for an initial appearance before the presiding Magistrate Judge in the Middle District of Georgia, Columbus, Division.
There’s a criminal complaint that the Assistant United States Attorney (the prosecutor who represents the United States) will file prior to the initial appearance. The criminal complaint briefly summarizes the charges against you.
You will see the magistrate judge preside over your first few times in Federal Court in Columbus, Georgia — likely for your preliminary hearing and/or arraignment as well before being sent to the District Court Judge’s docket.
3. What Happens at the Initial Appearance?
Informed of Your Rights, Federal Defender Determination, and Maximum Sentence
At the initial appearance, the Magistrate Judge will inform you of your constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent. You will be asked if you can afford counsel and then the Federal Public Defender’s office will determine whether you meet certain income thresholds to qualify for free representation.
The Magistrate will then inform you of the charges against you and the statutory maximum sentence that could be imposed. Do not freak out here. Very rarely will you receive this statutory maximum sentence. Further, the judges of the federal judiciary adhere to the sentencing guidelines, which govern what you can be sentenced to.
After counsel is appointed, the magistrate informs the defendant of the charges and the statutory maximum sentence. The “statutory maximum” is the most jail time that a defendant can receive — it is rarely the actual sentence that is given.
Federal Cases Require a Lawyer:
If you have been charged with a crime on post at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, Lawyer Mark Jones can help fight for you with the goal of getting your charges tossed or reduced. Federal cases are a serious matter. You may have heard the expression, “Let’s not make a federal case out of it.” That’s a true expression. It means Federal cases are complex, time-consuming, and intimidating to those untrained in the law. You need a lawyer who will fight for you to make sure you are treated fairly by the federal court system. Call Mark today for a free consultation regarding your criminal case at 706-225-2555