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
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=”https://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=”https://lawyermarkjones.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Rycroft-Defense-Award.pdf”]Read More
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=”https://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.