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  #1 (permalink)
Jennitin79 : Today, I got in a fender bender. No one was hurt.

I was stopped at a stop light, and went to merge right. I looked over my shoulder to check traffic in the right lane and accelerated, but by the time I looked ahead I had clipped the left rear bumper of the car stopped in front of me.

The police charged me with careless driving, which requires that they prove I acted in a "careless and imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances." CRS 42-4-1402. It is a criminal offense chargeable by 90 days in jail, thus there's a jury trial on the table.

I gave a statement to the police saying exactly what I said above, but there are no other witnesses.

I don't believe they can show evidence sufficient to prove my mental state beyond a reasonable doubt. Particularly because looking over your shoulder before merging is taught in drivers ed. I wasn't distracted or anything. Do you agree, lawyers/potential jurors?

My other question is what to do next, I'd rather not hire a lawyer due to expense. My first reaction would be to move for dismissal, but I'm not really familiar with criminal procedure. Second, I'm not familiar with the burden of proof for carelessness, and I can't find any relevant case law on the point.

Otherwise, I would discuss a plea with the prosecutor. However, I'm not sure that they can prove a lesser offense based solely on the fact an accident occurred, even the strict liability ones. The only other one I can think of is § 42-4-1008, Following too closely. But one doesn't "follow" a car stopped at a traffic light. If there isn't a viable alternative, than I shouldn't plea down and go all for nothing on the careless driving charge.

Finally - I acknowledge that no respondents are providing legal advice. Don't worry, I won't rely on it.



Thanks all
Thanks for the response, Quizzard.
However, yes, there is a mental state requirement for mental state.
"Both offenses of reckless driving and careless driving consist of elements of fact of driving a motor vehicle and STATE OF MIND in “disregard” of or “without due regard” for safety; and two offenses differ only in that degree of negligence required is far more culpable in reckless driving, although it falls short of intentional wrongdoing." People v. Chapman, 557 P.2d 1211.
"However, yes, there is a mental state requirement for mental state."
Sorry, typo. I mean that there is a mental state requirement for careless driving.
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  #2 (permalink)
camarok : ??You tried to change lanes and in the process hit the STOPPED vehicle in front of you. What would YOU call it other than careless?

They do not have to prove your 'mental state', that the act was careless is evident from the results.
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  #3 (permalink)
eleloNigAxion : My solicitors calculation is around 400k, which I know is the very maximum imaginable and was never really a figure I might receive.
The case is almost 5 years old and I suffered a moderate head injury (agreed by both sides neurological specialists), fractured skull, slight visual impairment, anosmia, loss of taste etc
I am mortified at the dirt they have dug up about me, including a pregnancy termination over 15 years ago. So they are playing hardball. 18 months ago I accepted a 25% responsibility for my accident (which I'm not really happy about, but wanted the case to progress). Today I received an offer of £57,500,00 (from which all sickness benefits will be taken back).
I am seeing my solicitor, neurosurgeon and barrister on 12th February but in the meantime I want to know if first offers are always rejected or if I may have to settle for this amount. The court hearing is scheduled for between July and mid September.

What is the likelihood that I will have to settle for this amount?
I have scoured the net and am more confused than ever.
Are first offers always low-ball?
They are associating my depression and lethargy etc to an already evident problem because I took anti depressants and saw a counselor 10 years ago after my husband died. They are painting me very Black, I am so upset.
At the time of my accident I had a fantastic job and had 3 promotions in 4 months, I was part way through 2 evening class qualifications so even though they are making me look bad, my life was on the up at the time of the accident.
My partner lost his job because he had to look after me and my daughter quit her college course to help so it affected all our lives quite badly.
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  #4 (permalink)
Conk525nfV : The first one is the damage limitation (on their part)

Hold out for more

£57k isn't really a lot of money especially if max could be £400k

But ALWAYS listen to your solictor
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  #5 (permalink)
RoyabyRor : If it were me I would hold out for a little more. I was in a car accident years ago (1996) .. was not at fault, and I was hurt (back and neck injuries mostly). I ended up taking their first offer and signing off on any future medical problems i may have due to the accident. I never should have done that!! Since that time I have had issues come up that had to do with my accident injuries back then, and when its cold or damp I get very bad pains sometimes. I am told the older i get the worse some of those pains will get, and that yes they are from when I was injured. I too lost a very good job over my accident, and have not found anything that pays as well or that is as secure etc. as that job was. I wish I would have held out for alot more now. (my little bit of money went pretty quick once I paid my medical bills off and bought a cheap used car to relpace the one that was wrecked). I would think twice about accepting their offer. I assume you have a lawyer.. what does the lawyer say? You might want to ask for a certain amount more and tell them you will take that to settle out of court.. then see what happens. Reguardless of what you end up doing, I wish you the best of luck!
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  #6 (permalink)
abyy1319 : There is no way you're going to get decent advice here. I'd be surprised if this case file isn't two inches thick, there's NO WAY you could give enough relevant facts on Yahoo for anyone, even an experienced litigator or neurosurgeon, to have a reasonable guess.

See your solicitor, get competent advice.

As a casual observation, I doubt that the timing of the offer and your appointment with the solicitor are totally unrelated.
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  #7 (permalink)
FriendJordan : You can't be put to death unless the victim died, so that is the worst...but when it comes to the punishment, we kill the person who may or may not have committed the crime and may die a torturous pain (lethal injection). If someone raped someone, we don't rape them, but we KILL people who kill, wtf is wrong with this logic?
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  #8 (permalink)
hahAltessyrar : You're right. We should also rape people who rape.
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  #9 (permalink)
zmvxowm633 : Yep, there is a lot wrong with the logic behind the death penalty. On the one hand they are saying it's illegal and wrong to kill someone........but if you DO then we will kill you. Its always reminded me of the parent who sees their child fighting on the playground and who runs up to the child, swats them across the back of the head and proclaims "In this family we don't hit so stop it!!!"
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  #10 (permalink)
FelmtemnDiept : For the worst crimes, life without parole is better, for many reasons. I’m against the death penalty not because of sympathy for criminals but because it doesn’t reduce crime, prolongs the anguish of families of murder victims, costs a whole lot more than life in prison, and, worst of all, risks executions of innocent people.

The worst thing about it. Errors:
The system can make tragic mistakes. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for setting the fire that killed his children, based on what even the Texas Forensics Science Commission acknowledges was junk science. Modern forensics has shown the fire was accidental, not arson. We’ll never know for sure how many people have been executed for crimes they didn’t commit. As of now, 140 wrongly convicted people on death row have been exonerated. DNA is rarely available in homicides, often irrelevant (as in Willingham’s case) and can’t guarantee we won’t execute innocent people. Capital juries are dominated by people who favor the death penalty and are more likely to vote to convict.

Keeping killers off the streets for good:
Life without parole, on the books in most states, also prevents reoffending. It means what it says, and spending the rest of your life locked up, knowing you’ll never be free, is no picnic. Two big advantages:
-an innocent person serving life can be released from prison
-life without parole costs less than the death penalty

Costs, a surprise to many people:
Study after study has found that the death penalty is much more expensive than life in prison. Since the stakes are so high, the process is far more complex than for any other kind of criminal case. The largest costs come at the pre-trial and trial stages. These apply whether or not the defendant is convicted, let alone sentenced to death.

Crime reduction (deterrence):
The death penalty doesn't keep us safer. Homicide rates for states that use the death penalty are consistently higher than for those that don’t. The most recent FBI data confirms this. For people without a conscience, fear of being caught is the best deterrent.

Who gets it:
The death penalty isn't reserved for the worst crimes, but for defendants with the worst lawyers. It doesn't apply to people with money. Practically everyone sentenced to death had to rely on an overworked public defender. How many people with money have been executed??

Victims:
People assume that families of murder victims want the death penalty imposed. It isn't necessarily so. Some are against it on moral grounds. But even families who have supported it in principle have testified to the protracted and unavoidable damage that the death penalty process does to families like theirs and that life without parole is an appropriate alternative.

It comes down to whether we should keep the death penalty for retribution or revenge in spite of its flaws and in spite of the huge toll it exacts on society.
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