TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
When a police officer pulls over a motorist, the law requires that the
officer must have a good reason for doing so. Whether the officer observed
a traffic violation of some sort (talking on a cell-phone or speeding)
or has other information regarding criminal activity, the officer must
be able to articulate the reasons for the interference and cannot do so
on a mere whim or gut feeling that something is awry. Take the case of
a recent client at Foley Griffin, “KZ,” whose arrest and all
evidence obtained thereafter was recently suppressed after a pre-trial
hearing because the arresting officer did not have a legal right to approach
KZ in the first place.
In short, the officer approached KZ’s car after KZ pulled behind
the officer’s vehicle, which was stopped in the left-hand turning
lane while the officer investigated another vehicle he had pulled over
and stopped in front of the police car. KZ did so because he intended
to make a left turn and was unsure what was happening in the lane in front
of him. The lane was not shut down; no barricades or flares were present.
According to the officer’s testimony, he approached KZ and demanded
to see KZ’s license and registration because he felt it was “odd”
that he was stopped in the turning lane behind the police car. The officer
did not observe the KZ commit any traffic violations or exhibit any signs
of intoxication or impairment before he approached the car and demanded
the information. Upon the officer’s interaction with KZ, he was
arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Under a well-established principle in the law, an officer must justify
the reasons he/she interfered with a private citizen and said reasons
must amount to more than a gut-feeling or a mere whim. In KZ’s case,
the officer could say nothing more than he/she found KZ’s actions
in stopping behind his police vehicle “odd.” As such, the
Court agreed that the officer did not possess the requisite elements to
approach and demand KZ’s information. All evidence obtained thereafter
Having a Nassau County criminal defense attorney who knows what the legal
standards are and how to apply them to the facts presented is tantamount
to defending someone accused of a crime. In KZ’s case, the case
was won before any evidence was presented to a jury at a trial. It was
won because we at Foley Griffin are familiar with and prepared to argue
the law each and every step of the way.
BACK TO BACK CAR ACCIDENTS IN NASSAU COUNTY
On several occasions, we have been confronted with a situation where a
client has been in back-to-back motor vehicle accidents. This unfortunate
circumstance was recently a reality for our client, NK.
NK was in a serious car accident in January, only to be in the same situation
seven months later. She suffered significant injuries in the first accident
that were exacerbated, i.e. made worse, in the second accident. Traditionally,
two separate actions would be commenced on behalf of NK. The two actions
would proceed independently until a motion to consolidate was made, usually
by one of the opposing defendants. A motion to consolidate is granted
when two different actions involve common questions of law or fact.
In a situation involving two distinct accidents, the motion would be granted
since the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries would typically be called
into question. Did they arise from the first or second accident?
In order to avoid inconsistent judgments, consolidation is often necessary.
In an effort to avoid this type of motion practice, we now allege multiple
accidents within one complaint. The facts surrounding each individual
accident are alleged separately and we include a paragraph that the named
defendants are each joint and severally liable.
In this matter, all parties are fully aware of the facts and circumstances
surrounding each accident from the inception of the action. This avoids
unnecessary motion practice and allows us to streamline the plaintiff’s
causes of action. Also, this can be beneficial at trial if one or both
of the insurance company attorneys point the finger at the other party
as the cause of the accident. If this occurs, we can then argue we don’t
care who caused the injuries, just find in favor of the plaintiff.
PROFESSIONAL DRIVER SHOULDER INJURY
Our law firm was recently retained by a professional driver who was injured
in a serious car accident. The accident, not our client’s fault,
caused the client to suffer an injury to his shoulder. He was recently
advised by his doctor that he will need surgery on the shoulder. Following
surgery, it is expected that he will need a significant amount of rehabilitation.
Obviously, as a driver, he will be unable to work during this time period.
It is possible that the client will face significant financial difficulties
if he is unable to work for a long period of time. Under New York State
no-fault rules, the client is eligible for up to 80% of his lost wages,
or up to a maximum of $2000.00 per month. Clearly, this amount of money
is not remotely close to the amount of money he was earning as a driver.
One way that we can all protect ourselves in this situation is to purchase
additional insurance now. For a nominal sum of money, you can increase
the monthly lost wages benefit to $4000.00 per month. In this way, if
you were put in the situation like our current client and you were unable
to work, you could receive up to $4000 from no-fault. Without question,
it is worth the investment.
The solution for this client is to make a claim against the responsible
insurance company for the difference in lost wages that the client may
incur. At this time the case is too new to estimate the amount of lost
wages, but if required, we are prepared to make this claim.
At Foley Griffin we offer our clients the opportunity to review their auto
policy at any time. If we see areas where an increase in insurance would
benefit the client (such as increase in monthly wages), we will make suggestions
to the client.
WORK VAN AND STOLEN CAR CRASH, UNINSURED MOTORIST CASE, $325,000 RECOVERY
Our client was a phone company technician operating his work van when he
was struck by a felon operating a stolen car who was fleeing the scene
of an armed robbery. The insurance company for the stolen car properly
refused to cover the accident. We therefore sought recovery from the employer’s
and the client’s Uninsured Motorist carriers. The client had to
retire from the job due to the injuries suffered. Although the client
had suffered an injury to one of his shoulders prior to the accident,
we claimed that it did not prevent him from working and was not significant
compared to the severity of the accident.
DUI DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT IN NYC, VERDICT OF $500,000
Our clients, a mother and her two adult daughters, were struck head on
by a drunk driver. The indigent drunk driver had stolen the vehicle from
a local 7-11 earlier that day. We were able to show that the wife of the
owner of the stolen vehicle had left her keys in the ignition with the
car running at the 7-11. This was a violation of the New York State Vehicle
and Traffic Law. As a result of the accident, the driver suffered a head
injury, damage to her wrists and back pain. One daughter suffered a broken
leg. The other suffered a minor facial scar.
NASSAU DWI “WALL OF SHAME” CASE — B V. SUOZZI
Our client and other citizens were charged with DWI but had not been convicted
or gone to trial. The Nassau County executive decided to post their pictures
on his self described “Wall of Shame.” Mr. Griffin was successful
in suing the county and forcing Nassau County to remove the “Wall
SPEEDING BROADSIDE CAR ACCIDENT CASE IN NYC, VERDICT OF $1,950,000
We represented passengers in a vehicle that was struck broadside by a vehicle
in New York City. There was a question as to which vehicle had the green
light. The driver of the host vehicle claimed he had the left turn arrow
in his favor. The adverse driver claimed that the host made a left turn
and failed to yield the right of way. Our expert opined that the driver
of the adverse vehicle was speeding and thus negligent, regardless of
the issue of lights.
STUDENT CAR ACCIDENT IN NEW YORK - SETTLEMENT OF $225,000
We represented the family of a student who was killed after she was ejected
from the SUV she was driving. This accident happend on the Long Island
Expressway in Suffolk County. According to eyewitnesses, the accident
was caused when the young woman lost control of her SUV after she was
cut-off by a Ferrari and Range Rover that were weaving in and out of traffic.
Unfortunately, New York Law is limited in what a family can recover for
the loss of a loved one who was not a parent or wage earner.
CAR RACE INJURY CASE IN SUFFOLK COUNTY- SETTLED AT $1,055,000
Our client was injured in a one car accident, when her boyfriend, while
racing another Mustang, lost control and struck a tree. She was ejected
from the vehicle and suffered a fractured vertebrae, head injury and knee
injury requiring surgery. We took this case over from another attorney
after he had the matter stricken from the Court’s trial calendar.
At that time they had a minimal settlement offer from the insurance company.
The case settled for $225,000 out an insurance policy of $250,000 after
we corrected the mistakes of prior counsel.
NEW YORK MAIL AND WIRE FRAUD CASE — US V. N
No Jail Sentence
Our client was charged with Mail and Wire Fraud in the Eastern District
of New York and was alleged to have participated in a multi million dollar
fraud. Although the sentencing guideline range for our client was over
48 months, Mr. Griffin secured a downward departure and obtained a no
jail sentence for our client.