Do I Still Have a Personal Injury Claim if I Wasn’t Wearing My Seatbelt?

Under Missouri law, passengers in a vehicle who are between the ages of 8 and 15 are required to wear seatbelts, regardless as to whether they are sitting in the front or back seat. On the other hand, individuals who are over the age of 15 only are required to wear a seat belt when they are seated in the front seat of a vehicle. Seat belt laws may become an issue in your personal injury case if you were injured during an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, but you weren’t wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident.

Commonly known as the “seatbelt defense,” this defense in personal injury actions is based on the theory that the injury victim wouldn’t have suffered such severe injuries, or perhaps any injuries at all, if she had been wearing her seatbelt. While Missouri is one of several states that permit a defendant to raise this defense in a personal injury claim and reduce damages as a result, Missouri law only permits a reduction of the injury victim’s damages by one percent if the defense applies. What this means is that in determining any damages award in favor of an injury victim, a jury only can attribute 1% of fault to the injury victim for failing to wear a seatbelt.

The fact is that it is difficult to tell if injuries still would have occurred, or would have been as severe, if the injury victim was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Nonetheless, although it may not seem fair to injury victims, the seatbelt defense can apply in Missouri personal injury claims. The theory behind Missouri’s application of the seatbelt defense in personal injury claims is that since wearing a seatbelt is required under Missouri law, then drivers or passengers should bear some responsibility if they suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident while not wearing a seatbelt. At Benjamin Law Firm, LLC, we pride ourselves on helping our clients with personal injury claims resulting from all types of accidents, as well as with their legal difficulties related to traffic violations, DWI, general criminal offenses, and expungement of criminal records. Call our office today at (816) 322-8008 and learn what we can do to help.

What Are the Most Common Reasons for License Suspension in Missouri?

The Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) is the agency that administers and issues driver’s licenses. As a result, DOR also has the authority to suspend or revoke your driver’s license in certain situations.

One of the most common reasons for license suspension is a guilty plea or conviction on charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI). If it is your first DWI offense, you may receive a 90-day suspension. After a 30-day period of suspension, you may be eligible to obtain a restricted driver’s license in some cases. However, if you are stopped on suspicion of DWI and refuse to take a chemical or blood alcohol content (BAC) test, you are subject to a one-year suspension. You must serve 90 days of that suspension before you might be eligible for a restricted license, but if you have previously refused a chemical test, you may have to serve the entire suspension with no restricted license. For subsequent DWI convictions, the suspension periods become even longer.

Another common reason for license suspension is the accumulation of too many points assessed by DOR on your driving record. DOR assesses these points to your license when you have committed too many traffic violations within a certain period. You also may have points assessed by DOR if you commit certain driving-related criminal offenses, such as driving with an invalid or no license. This type of license suspension or revocation can last from 30 days to one year, depending on the situation. In some cases, you can get a limited driving privilege when your license is suspended or revoked for this reason, but in other cases, you may not be eligible. The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center has the reputation and skills that you want and need when defending yourself against criminal charges related to DWI, assault, traffic violations, and other matters. Our goal is to assist you in building the strongest defense available in your case. We also can assist you with the expungement process, which can help improve your future by sealing your previous criminal records. Do not hesitate to contact Benjamin Law Firm, LLC, at (816) 322-8008 or fill out the online information form located here.

What is Chain of Custody?

Chain of custody is a protocol that law enforcement officials follow in order to maintain the admissibility of evidence as exhibits in criminal cases. Failure to maintain the chain of custody can result in a piece of evidence being inadmissible at trial. Without this essential evidence, then the prosecutor may be unable to successfully prosecute a person for a criminal offense.

Evidence that prosecutors introduce at a criminal trial as exhibits can be anything from documents to illegal drugs to stolen goods. The chain of custody makes the evidence reliable, in that the evidence is what the prosecutor says it is. For instance, if a prosecutor wants to introduce a baggie full of cocaine at a trial on a criminal drug offense, he or she must provide a chain of custody in order to prove that the drugs are the same drugs that police officers took from the defendant at the time of arrest. A chain of custody essentially establishes which person or agency had possession of the drugs at all times since law enforcement since officers took possession of the drugs from the defendant.

To be more specific, a police officer first documents that he or she took the drugs from the defendant’s possession at the time of arrest. There must be evidence that the officer stored the drugs in a manner to ensure that no one tampered with the drugs while being stored, such as in a dedicated evidence room or locker. Next, the chain of custody will include documentation of the drugs being brought to an expert for testing to determine what the substance is, as well as transporting the drugs back to the law enforcement agency until trial. The prosecutor will have to prove that the drugs that the expert tested are the same drugs that the officer initially took from the defendant and that are being used as evidence at trial. This is just one example of how a prosecutor might establish a chain of custody for drugs that he or she wishes to use as an exhibit at trial. At Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center, we offer you client-focused representation and unrelenting protection of your rights throughout your criminal proceedings. When you need help that only an experienced criminal defense attorney can offer you, contact Benjamin Law Firm, LLC, at (816) 322-8008 or fill out the online information form located here.