DUI/DWI Consequences

No one intends to be involved in a DUI. However, when we make an error in judgment concerning alcohol consumption and wind up being apprehended by law enforcement, the consequences are often a surprise to us in terms of severity, especially for those of us never in trouble with the law before. If you wind up in a position where you are caught driving drunk or impaired, it is generally a good idea to be aware of the consequences. Some states have some extremely stringent laws regarding impaired driving.
First Offense
In many states even the penalties for a first DUI are relatively stringent.  These laws were passed because of the huge amount of injury and death caused by drunk drivers. In many cases, a first offense can result in imprisonment, as well as fines, depending on Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and the presence of any minors in the vehicle at the time of the stop. Many other states may initially require only probation instead of these stiff penalties. While some first-time DUIs are spared imprisonment, many are not.
First offenders can also have their driver’s license suspended, usually for around 3 months (but possibly for up to 1 year), although some states a allow a limited license to be used only to get to and from work.  In addition to a temporary license suspension, some states follow this with a period of requiring an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) fitted to their vehicle. This device requires the driver to blow a breath sample showing no alcohol before starting the engine.  The increased use of IIDs is thought to increase deterrence, as well as providing the fringe benefit of more information to be studied by lawmakers.
Later Offenses
As one might imagine, the penalties for second and third DUIs only become more severe because these later offenses cannot simply be ascribed to a mere act of poor judgment. For example, while a first offense can carry an imprisonment sentence of few days, a second offense under the law might be punishable by a longer stint in jail. License suspensions also increase in length with each conviction, often going from 180 days to as much as 10 years . This license suspension may be followed by a period of requiring and IID remaining on your car.
Many states also have an implied consent law. This law makes is a crime or grounds for license suspension for an apprehended driver to refuse to give a breath sample to the law enforcement officer.
These tougher drunk driving laws have been imposed by the efforts of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) who have marshaled the statistics that showed an increase in drunk driving fatalities. These zero tolerance policies can be a headache to contend with on a personal level, but they save lives, including the lives of potential drunk drivers.
Injured by DUI/DWI
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk or intoxicated driver, you should contact a Coeur d’Alene ID personal injury lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Driving under the influence is considered negligent, and if you’ve been involved in an accident with someone acting negligently, you may be entitled to financial relief.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Bendell Law Firm for their insight into DUI/DWI and negligence.

5 Key Factors in a Slip and Fall Case

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common accidents during the holiday season. Most slip and fall accidents are caused by wet, dirty or defective floors. Most of these holiday accidents happen in grocery stores, parking lots and malls. If you find yourself toting a purse, packages or children through a crowded store this holiday season, make sure to keep a proper lookout for obstacles in your path. If during the busy holiday shopping season you find yourself a victim in an unfortunate slip and fall accident, here are a few important factors to consider before it’s too late.

  • Just because you got hurt does not mean you will recover.

Many people believe that if they are injured in a store, they automatically can recover for their injuries. That is not the case. If you have sustained injuries from a fall, you must be able to prove what caused you to fall before you get compensated. Merely owning or occupying land does not make that person or business liable for your injuries. There must be some form of negligence on the part of the owner or occupier of property before they are liable for your injuries.

  • The employees who are assisting you after your fall are not there to help you.

You should report your fall immediately to store personnel, and make an accident report. Even though you might be hurt or embarrassed, failing to do a report can ruin your case. Employees who arrive at the accident scene are there to gather evidence to help the store avoid paying you, not to protect you.

  • Pay attention to your surroundings, the accident scene can change quickly.

Store personnel often arrive with cameras, mops and wet floor signs after a slip and fall accident. They are not there to help you. They are building a case against you. Make sure to take pictures of what caused you to fall. Keep any wet clothes, shoes or pictures from your fall. Get names, addresses and phone numbers of any non-employee witnesses. All of this evidence will be gone once you leave the store.

  • Get and document all medical treatment.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you must get medical treatment for your injuries. The longer you wait to get treatment, the more difficult it is to prove a connection between your fall and your injuries. A good starting point is the local emergency room or family doctor. The stores insurance adjusters will question all treatment you receive, especially if you have pre-existing injuries.

Insurance adjusters who call to tape record and interview you are trying to help their client. Everything you say can be used against you in your case. Make sure to talk to an attorney before you talk to the adjusters.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Ferguson & Ferguson Attorneys at Law for their insight into key factors in a slip and fall case.

Tips for Driving Through Storms

When you are behind the wheel, you always have to be alert to everything around you. This means that you not only have to be aware of pedestrians and other drivers on the road, but you will also have to be prepared for the onset of inclement weather. Weather can change at the blink of an eye, without warning. When you are driving and a storm suddenly hits, there are certain things you can do to stay safe. Here are a few tips for driving through storms from an experienced Phoenix AZ car accident lawyer.

Be Prepared

First and foremost, you should be prepared when you go for a drive. Check the weather forecast in your area, as well as any area to which you may be driving. You will be better able to handle whatever comes your way as a result. You may even be able to plan alternate routes to take where the weather isn’t quite as severe.

Tell someone close to you about your route, destination and the time you plan on arriving. That way, you can always get help if your car stalls or breaks down during a storm. You should also have emergency equipment on hand, such as a flashlight, first aid kit, water, snacks and prescription medication.

Slow Down

During a bad storm that involves rain, snow, hail or wind, you should always slow down while driving. The roads can be very slick when they’re wet, which means your car can skid out of control and cause an accident. Strong winds can also make it challenging to drive, and can even give your car a push if they are very severe. Hail is dangerous and can divert your attention from the road. In addition, it’s important to leave more room between your vehicle and the ones around you during a storm.

Turn on Your Headlights

Turn your headlights on any time you drive in a storm, even if it is daytime and fairly light outside. Be sure to use your regular beams, and avoid using your high beams unless you are in an area where there are no drivers nearby. It is important to use your headlights at all times during a storm because visibility is decreased considerably when there is heavy rain or snow as it collects on your windshield and rear window. With no headlights on, it may be more difficult for other drivers to see you as well.

Wait it Out, if Possible

If it is at all possible, depending on the severity of the storm, you should wait it out before continuing driving. If you feel that you cannot comfortably drive when you get caught in a particularly bad storm, pull over. However, it is essential to avoid stopping near trees or power lines, as severe storms can result in them being knocked down. You want to avoid a potential disaster, not experience one that’s even worse.

If the storm you are caught in while driving is a tornado, park your car, get out and immediately seek shelter. Remember that you can always replace a car, but not your life or the lives of your passengers.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Alex & Saavedra, P.C. for their added insights into vehicle safety.

Who Says a Judge Can’t Be Funny?

judge While the underlying crime is by no means funny — i.e. an argument over a dog pooping in a neighbor’s yard that led to a machete fight — Judge Jeff Sutton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit offers up several good “one-liners” in response to the criminal defendant’s arguments, including the following:

 

“‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ Ecclesiastes 1:9. Maybe so. But this is a first for us — a dispute between next-door neighbors about uncollected dog deposits that degenerated into a near-fatal assault with a machete.”

“Walker’s belief, however honest, was emphatically unreasonable. He had no objective indications that his neighbor was about to attack him with the stick. And even if he did, Walker brought a machete to a stick fight and nearly killed his neighbor in the process — all in a dispute over a canine trespass….”

“Walker’s lawyer attempts to downplay her client’s use of a machete, claiming that it is merely a ‘garden implement.’  That is easy for her to say. The neighbor…presumably sees it differently, for the same reason that the victim of a near-fatal knifing would not characterize the weapon as a ‘kitchen utensil.'”

branch-308013__180Responding to arguments that the defendant was otherwise a “model citizen,” Judge Sutton wrote: “Being a model citizen for 364 days of the year is not of much use if this is what happens on the 365th day.”

knife

The opinion is barely 4 pages long and well worth the quick read. United States v. Jeffery T. Walker, No. 14-6490, 819 F.3d 877 (April 11, 2016).

 

 

Need a Lawyer?

We hope you never need help with a case involving a machete!   However, if you need a lawyer, please call us at 901-372-5003. We represent victims in personal injury cases, apartment crime cases, wrongful death cases, auto accidents, and more.

WISEMAN BRAY PLLC

8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 103

Memphis, Tennessee 38018

(901) 372-5003 Office

www.WisemanBray.com

Swimming Pool Injury and Drowning Cases in TN

pool injury lawyer, pool injury attorney, drowning victim attorneySwimming pool injury cases are serious. One of the most heartbreaking cases I have ever handled involved the accidental drowning death of a teenage boy. The parents of the young drowning victim grappled with death of their son at what started out as a fun swimming party with friends.  The owner of the pool and the other party guests felt enormous grief, but at the same time, they did not know what they could have done differently. While the case was eventually settled, everyone involved was devastated, and the effects of the young man’s death were far-reaching.  I will never forget the emotions of all of the parties and witnesses involved in that case.

Most people have no idea just how dangerous a swimming pool can be. Drowning and other swimming pool injuries happen quickly and quietly.  Look at these statistics from the CDC:

Drowning Statistics

  • Every day, about 10 people die from drowning.
  • About 1 in 5 of those are kids 14 and under.
  • Nearly 80% of drowning victims are male.
  • Children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning rates. Among children ages 1-4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools.
  • The drowning rate for African Americans is significantly higher across all ages. The disparity is widest among children ages 5-14.

swimming pool lawyer, drowning victim lawyerPool Drains Can Be Deadly

Drowning isn’t the only swimming pool safety concern. Pool drains can also cause significant injuries and death.  In fact, there is federal legislation governing public pool drains because of the serious risk of harm and death.  The legislation is known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act  and it is named after a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by suction from a hot tub drain.  The suction from the drain was so strong that her mother tried to pull her from the drain but could not. The two men who eventually freed the girl pulled so hard that the drain cover broke from the force. The little girl died from drowning, but the real cause of her death was suction entrapment due to a faulty drain cover.  To watch a short video explaining the danger of pool drains, click here.

For additional drowning death and swimming pool injury statistics and supporting graphics, click here.

What to Do After a Swimming Pool Injury or Drowning

If you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool or hot tub, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.   Here are some pointers about what to do:

  • Take photos of the scene. Include the pool, equipment, fencing, gates, toys, surrounding area, etc. It is extremely important to document the scene of the injury or death before the pool owners make any changes.
  • Write down names, phone numbers, and addresses of any witnesses. If you decide to pursue a claim, your attorney will need to be able to contact and interview witnesses.
  • Talk with a Swimming Pool Injury Lawyer. An experienced lawyer can examine the facts of a case and advise you of your legal rights and options.

Legal Info on Drowning and Pool Injury Lawsuits

In Tennessee, swimming pool owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of persons using or accessing a swimming pool, hot tub, or spa.  If a swimming pool owner is negligent, or fails to act with reasonable care, and a person drowns or is injured as a result, the pool owner will be liable for damages.

Every case is unique.  Outcomes and liability assessments depend on the specific facts involved. A swimming pool injury lawyer will be able to talk with you about the circumstances under which the injury or drowning occurred and can give you the appropriate legal advice.   Some of the factors that will influence the outcome of a Swimming Pool Injury or drowning case are:

  • Age of the victim
  • Swimming experience of the victim
  • How the victim entered the property
  • How the victim entered the pool
  • Time frames
  • Fencing around the property and/or pool
  • Condition of the pool water, i.e., was it murky or cloudy?
  • Gates and access mechanisms for entry to backyard or pool area
  • Characteristics of property, i.e., visibility from public areas, presence of toys.
  • Safety equipment available
  • Type of supervision provided
  • Involvement of alcohol
  • Type of pool drain and other maintenance equipment
  • Whether the pool was public or privately owned
  • Training of lifeguards and other staff
  • Notice to pool owners of dangers, access problems, or prior trespassing
  • Local ordinances and codes that apply to swimming pools

pool injury lawyer memphis - drowning victim lawyer

Examples of Tennessee Court Cases on Drowning

Case outcomes are dependent on the facts and the proof or lack thereof that is presented in Court by the trial lawyers for the parties.  Below are just a couple of examples of Tennessee drowning cases, either one of which might have turned out another way had the facts been slightly different:

Harper v. Elliott (1999).  Four year-old boy wandered onto the pool owners’ property and drowned in their pool.  The owners had a 46 inch high wrought iron fence with vertical bars surrounding the pool and access was through 2 gates with simple latches. The pool had a diving board and a slide and there were colorful inflatable toys in and around the pool. The subject street was a busy four lane and the child lived a few doors down. He had left his home while his father was away on a job interview and his mother was asleep. There was no evidence of the route the child took, or how he entered the pool area. A police officer speculated that he squeezed between the bars of the fence, took off his clothes, and slid down the slide into the pool. There was no evidence of what the child could have seen from public spaces. The judge said that it was too much to say that the pool owners knew or should have known that children were likely to trespass on their property. In all the years since they built the pool, they had never known of a child coming onto their property uninvited. Also, the street at issue was a busy, four-lane street, making it highly improbable that a child small enough to fail to appreciate the danger of a swimming pool would be wandering alone in the neighborhood. The judge granted summary judgment in favor of the pool owners and the jury never heard the case. Harper v. Elliott, No. 01-A-01-9809-CV00503, 1999 WL 499737, at *1 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 16, 1999).

Toney v. Cunningham (1999).  A 19 month-old baby girl drowned while attending a Memorial Day celebration. The child’s grandmother agreed to watch her while the mother worked and took her over to the home of the defendants for a party.  The grandmother took the child to one of the bedrooms in the home for a nap and then went outside to watch some other guests play tennis. On 2-3 occasions, the grandmother checked on the child, each time finding that she was asleep. During the tennis match, a ball was hit over the fence. A party guest attempted to retrieve the ball and saw the child floating face down in the swimming pool.  The child’s mother filed a wrongful death suit against the pool owners. The court granted summary judgment to the pool owners because it did not think that, under the facts of the case, that the particular injury experienced by the baby was foreseeable to the pool owners. This was because at the time of the accident, the baby was under the supervision of her grandmother. Additionally, the pool owners and several guests were on or near the tennis court when the accident occurred. From the tennis court, the swimming pool is easily visible. It was unlikely that the baby would open the back door, walk to the swimming pool, and fall in without being seen or heard.  Also, the pool owners knew that the baby was in the care of her grandmother and had every right to believe and expect that the grandmother would supervise the child. Balancing the factors, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the owners, meaning the case was never heard by a jury. Toney v. Cunningham, No. 02A01-9801-CV-00005, 1999 WL 188291, at *5-6 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 6, 1999).

Other Helpful Info

Stay Safe In and Around Swimming Pools 

Safety Barrier Guidelines For Residential Pools 

 

We Handle Swimming Pool Injury and Drowning Lawsuits

We represent pool injury victims and the families of those who have lost loved ones due to accidental drowning. If you need a Swimming Pool Injury Lawyer or an Accidental Drowning Lawyer in the Memphis or Nashville area, please call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.  Our work is personal. Our clients become family. Either I or one of our other experienced attorneys will meet with you and provide a free consultation.  We will examine the facts of your case and advise you on your legal rights and options.

 

By: Erin Melton Shea

 

WISEMAN BRAY PLLC

8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 103

Memphis, Tennessee 38018

(901) 372-5003 Office

(901) 383-6599 Fax

www.WisemanBray.com

 

 

Injured by a Drunk Driver?

drunk driver personal injury lawyerChances are, you either have been or will be the victim of a drunk driver in your lifetime. We know that intoxicated drivers cause personal injuries and deaths every day, but they also cause property damage. Even if you are not injured, your property may be. For example, drunk drivers often cause damage to other cars, houses, businesses, guardrails, signs, yards, and landscaping.

Drunk Driving Statistics

What are the odds that you have been or will be affected by a drunk or intoxicated driver? Take a look at these harrowing  statistics:

  • Every 2 minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.
  • On average, 2 in 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
  • The rate of drunk driving is highest among 26-29 year olds at 20.7%.
  • In 2014, 9,967 people died in drunk driving crashes. That’s one every 53 minutes. Another 290,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes.
  • Drunk driving costs the U.S. $132 Billion a year.
  • In 2010, drunk driving alone accounted for 18% of the total economic loss from motor vehicle crashes, costing the economy as much as $199 billion in direct and quality-of-life losses.

What does Drunk or “Intoxicated” Mean?

Tennessee law provides that a person is intoxicated when his or her physical and mental abilities are impaired as a result of drinking or drug use. The impairment must be to the extent that the person can’t act with ordinary and reasonable care like a sober person would under similar circumstances.

Can a Drunk Driver or Person Be Negligent?

Yes!  A drunk person is held to the same standard as a sober person.  Being intoxicated is no excuse for failure to act as a reasonably careful person.

We Represent Victims of Drunk Driving.

As a victim, you need a lawyer with the experience, drive, and knowledge necessary to compete with the insurance companies who are handling your claim. Otherwise, you’ll end up being a victim twice, and you might not even realize it until it’s already too late.  We are victim attorneys and we represent people who have been injured or damaged by drunk or intoxicated drivers. If you need help, we have offices in Memphis and Nashville Tennessee.  Please call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.

 

Can my Fitbit be used as evidence against me?

By:            Erin Shea

fitbit can be used by injury lawyer

Can my Fitbit® data be used as evidence in court?

As I was driving to work yesterday, I heard an advertisement for a Local News Story on Fox 13 about potential unintended consequences of using one of those trendy new fitness tracker devices, such as the Fitbit®. This piqued my interest for a couple of different reasons: (1) My husband bought me a Fitbit® for my birthday recently, and (2) Part of my job as a lawyer involves looking for information to either support or weaken a particular factual claim being made by someone in a lawsuit, and doesn’t a fitness tracker record accurate and factual information?

Using Fitbit® Data as Evidence in Court Cases

What could be the unintended consequence of using a fitness tracker? Relevant to my job as a lawyer, Fox 13’s story and this article discuss how fitness tracking data can make or break a court case.

I haven’t seen any reported appellate decisions in Tennessee yet discussing the admissibility of fitness tracking data at trial, but I’m sure they are coming. Also, even if the data never sees the inside of a courtroom, there are other uses for it, including using the information to secure other evidence or as a negotiation point during settlement talks.

For example, if a person in a personal injury suit is making a claim that they can no longer walk more than a few steps at a time, but the person’s Fitbit® data shows that the person is taking 20,000 steps a day, I would argue that the claim is being exaggerated.  On a somewhat related topic, I will never forget an old case I worked on where the injured person claimed he could no longer run races, but his social media accounts showed several post-race photographs that were taken after the accident.

Moral of the Story

Don’t forget that your electronic devices, including fitness tracking devices like a Fitbit®, are collecting data and information about you.  Think about how that data might be used to help or hurt you because you can be sure that the lawyers are!

Need a Lawyer?

erin shea, injury lawyer at wiseman bray memphisCall  me or any of the other lawyers at Wiseman Bray PLLC  at (901) 372-5003. We’d be glad to help you. We handle cases in Memphis, Cordova, Germantown, Bartlett, Arlington, Lakeland,  Shelby County, and throughout Tennessee and Mississippi.  If we can’t help you, we’ll point you in the right direction.

 

Re-opening of Entry Level Legal Assistant Position

Wiseman Bray PLLC is again looking to add a Legal Assistant in the Litigation Department.  The Legal Assistant position is an entry level job, and while experience is preferred, it is not absolutely necessary.  On the job training will be provided.

 

Minimum job requirements are as follows:

  • Minimum: high school diploma
  • Preferred: associate degree or higher
  • Strong commitment to customer service
  • Proficient with Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Ability to pay close attention to detail
  • Strong research, writing, and editing skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively with customers and attorneys
  • Ability to be a self-starter and to work independently
  • Familiarity with social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)

 

Wiseman Bray PLLC employees receive two (2) weeks paid vacation annually.  Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with an hour for lunch break.  We also strive to be kid-friendly and flexible in order to accommodate for doctor appointments, school programs, ball games, etc.  Beginning salary is $30,000 per year, and employees are 401(k) eligible after completing 1 year of work.  Unfortunately, Wiseman Bray PLLC does not offer health insurance benefits.

 

Please send any questions and/or resumes to info@wisemanbray.com.

Gun Trusts: Feinstein’s Bill Addresses Handguns Too.

According to the Washington Post, Senator Feinstein’s gun control bill not only seeks to severely restrict the sale and transfer of modern sporting rifles, but also “prohibits the sale or transfer of high-capacity, ammunition-feeding devices currently in existence” – a clear reference to gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

While most gun owners don’t own an AR-15, millions of Americans own handguns for personal defense.  Many if not most of these “regular” handguns are sold with magazines that hold 10 rounds.  It’s these personal defense weapons that Senator Feinstein seeks to restrict.  If her bill becomes law, millions of Americans will no longer be able to sell, give away or pass their handgun to their family in their will.

It is unlikely that the entirety of the proposed bill will become law.  However, is seems probable that portions of the proposed legislation will.  If you are interested in maintaining control of your firearms, call us now to set up a Gun Trust at 901-372-5003.

For more info, click here for our previous blog post about Gun Trusts.

URGENT UPDATE & PRICE REDUCTION -Time may be running out to protect your guns with a Gun Trust

Today, multiple U.S. Senators are formally introducing legislation that bans the manufacture and sale of hundreds, if not thousands of guns.  While the news coverage of the proposed legislation will characterize the proposed laws as being an “assault weapons ban,” in reality many handguns and shotguns will be included.  Additionally, gun owners’ ability to transfer their guns to their family members may be severely restricted or even banned.

In light of the short time frame that gun owners may have to legally protect their firearms, Wiseman Bray PLLC is now offering a basic Gun Trust for only $675.  Call us now to create your Gun Trust before it is too late: 901-372-5003.

For more info, click here for our previous blog post about Gun Trusts.