FAQ

Criminal Defense FAQ

What to Do When Facing Criminal Charges

STEP 1: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT…USE IT.

You have seen and heard it on television, “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a Court of Law.” Those words are not fiction. If you are not in custody, the police officer or investigating officer may not read you your “Miranda Rights”, but it doesn’t mean you have to give a statement or that you can’t have an attorney if you wish to make a statement. If you going to be questioned and you are not in custody, indicate that you wish to consult with an attorney before making a statement. If you are in custody and the police wish to question you, they must read you your Miranda Rights, and they MUST stop questioning you if you UNEQUIVOCALLY ask for an attorney or indicate that you DO NOT wish to speak to them. This doesn’t mean you are being uncooperative, it means that you are exercising your Constitutional Rights.

STEP 2: CONSULT YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND POLICE OFFICERS OR PEOPLE WHO ARE INVOLVED IN THE COURT SYSTEM FOR THE NAME OF A GOOD ATTORNEY

Sometimes the best advice can come from people we know. Sometimes it is from those “in the know”. Your friends or family members may know an attorney, or may have used one themselves, and would be happy to give you the name of someone who helped them.

Also, people who are involved in the judicial system see attorneys at work everyday, and know the capabilities and reputations of attorneys. If you know someone (or know someone who knows someone) involved in the Court or judicial system, ask for a referral to a good attorney. Gather a few names and move to Step 3.

STEP 3: ARRANGE CONSULTATIONS WITH MORE THAN ONE ATTORNEY

By meeting with more than one attorney, you should be able to distinguish between the attorney that may be trying to sell you a pipe dream and make promises that he or she can’t keep just to get your retainer, from those that will give you sound, straight advice and counseling on your case. This will also allow you to determine who you are comfortable with and you will trust during your trying times.

Choose someone you can talk to, who takes the time to explain things, and who can give you straight answers. Aggressive is great, if they can deliver. Lastly, trust is key, so be sure to choose an attorney you can trust.

What Should I Do About My Traffic Ticket?

Remember that Traffic Tickets can have a profound effect on your Driver’s License and Insurance…

Many people who receive a traffic ticket show up to the clerk’s office of the District Court and pay the fine, not really thinking about the consequences. Traffic tickets can add points to your license and if your insurance company notices that you have those additional points on your license, your insurance premiums can increase. Anytime you receive a traffic ticket you have the right to have a hearing on that ticket. There are two types of hearings. You have the option of an Informal Hearing, would consist of you and the Peace/Police Officer that wrote you the ticket and a Magistrate, who will preside over the hearing. You also have the right to a formal hearing wherein you can be represented by an attorney and the Police Officer is represented by the Prosecutor’s Office or City Attorney. At first glance you might think that a formal hearing is too intense for just a traffic ticket or it may even seem overwhelming, but sometimes having a formal hearing will be beneficial, especially if you have an otherwise clean (or near-clean) driving record. Attorney’s can sometimes negotiate a civil infraction that will not appear on your driving record (non-abstracted) or an infraction that does not involve points on your driving record. The bottom line is that it is probably worth your time to at least speak with an attorney to further discuss your options, but remember you only have a certain number of days to take action before the Court will enter a Default on your ticket, so don’t waste time.

When choosing an attorney to talk to, sometimes the best advice can come from people we know. Sometimes it is from those in-the-know. Your friends, family members, or co-workers may know an attorney, or may have used one themselves, and would be happy to give you the name of someone who helped them. If you know a police officer or someone who works in the Court System, you may wish to ask for a referral from that person as they may know an attorney by reputation that they could recommend.

I Got a Speeding Ticket...Now What???

Remember that Speeding Tickets can have a profound effect on your Driver’s License and Insurance…

Many people who receive a speeding ticket show up to the clerk’s office of the District Court and pay the fine, not really thinking about the consequences. Speeding tickets can add points to your license and if your insurance company notices that you have those additional points on your license, your insurance premiums can increase. Anytime you receive a speeding ticket you have the right to have a hearing on that ticket. There are two types of hearings. You have the option of an Informal Hearing, would consist of you and the Peace/Police Officer that wrote you the ticket and a Magistrate, who will preside over the hearing. You also have the right to a formal hearing wherein you can be represented by an attorney and the Police Officer is represented by the Prosecutor’s Office or City Attorney. At first glance you might think that a formal hearing is too intense for just a speeding ticket or it may even seem overwhelming, but sometimes having a formal hearing will be beneficial, especially if you have an otherwise clean or near-clean driving record. Attorney’s can sometimes negotiate a civil infraction that will not appear on your driving record (non-abstracted) or an infraction that does not involve points on your driving record. The bottom line is that it is probably worth your time to at least speak with an attorney to further discuss your options, but remember you only have a certain number of days to take action before the Court will enter a Default on your ticket, so don’t waste time.

When choosing an attorney to talk to, consult your friends, family, co-workers, police officers, or those involved in the Court System, because odds are some of those people have used or know an attorney who is trustworthy and worth your time.

Auto Accidents FAQ

HELP! I WAS JUST HURT IN A CAR ACCIDENT IN THE THUMB. I’M NEW TO MICHIGAN AND DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT IS COVERED UNDER MY NO-FAULT INSURANCE COVERAGE. WHAT BENEFITS AM I ENTITLED TO?

The first insurance claim you will make following your Michigan auto accident is to your first-party no-fault insurance. This policy is in place to protect you and ensure that you get the basic minimum coverage you need following an accident.

The coverage include:

  • Medical bills for life. The law in Michigan requires that you get medical coverage for life, or for the duration of your treatment. Unfortunately, there are a lot of complicated factors that play a role in how much you will actually receive in coverage. For example, your bill must be a reasonable cost necessity and the bill must actually be incurred.
  • Wage loss. After an accident, you may also receive up to 85 percent of your lost wages in Michigan, for up to three years. This benefit is tax-free, which is why you only receive 85 percent and not 100 percent. This can also become complicated, especially if you will be out of work for longer than three years as a result of your injuries.
  • Replacement services. If you need an attendant to care for you, such as an in-home nurse, or if you need someone to help you with household cleaning, errands, etc., you may be reimbursed for these expenses. To get replacement services, there is a complicated process that you must go through.

Although each of these benefits is in place to protect you, there are many factors that may prevent you from getting the coverage you need. It is a good idea to speak with one of our Port Huron car accident lawyers to learn more about what you can expect when applying for these benefits. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

HOW DO I DETERMINE IF THE OTHER PARTY HAS INSURANCE AFTER AN AUTO ACCIDENT?

If you are involved in a Michigan auto accident and the other driver refuses to tell you his/her insurance status, it’s not your job to force the issue. If the police have been summoned to the scene, they’ll have that information in their police report, which can be obtained by your insurance company. You can also jot down the license plate number of the car. Insurance information is a matter of public record. The other driver’s plate number is the ticket to obtaining their identity and insurance carrier information (if any). Your insurance company can request it through the Michigan Department of Motor Vehicles.

WHEN WILL I GET MY SETTLEMENT CHECK FOR MY AUTO ACCIDENT CLAIM?

Once your Michigan auto accident attorney reaches a settlement agreement, it will generally take 2–6 weeks before you receive your settlement check. A number of factors play into that time frame. First, you need to sign a release form from the insurance company and get it back to them. Then, if you have any related, unpaid medical bills, healthcare providers must be paid or insurance companies reimbursed. In addition, attorney’s fees, out-of-pocket expenses incurred by your attorney, and possible liens, among other costs, must be deducted from the settlement amount. Once these things are squared away, the check should be in the mail.

SHOULD I CALL 911 AFTER A MICHIGAN AUTO ACCIDENT?

If anyone involved in the accident is injured, call 911 immediately to summon medical assistance. The police will be notified at the same time. If there are no injuries or other circumstances that require an emergency police response, there is no need to call 911. Call the local police department instead. It is generally recommended that vehicles not be moved at the scene of the accident unless absolutely necessary.

Bicycle Accidents FAQ

I WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED WHEN I WAS HIT BY A CAR WHILE RIDING MY BIKE IN PORT HURON. HOW CAN I GET MY MEDICAL BILLS AND OTHER EXPENSES PAID?

In Michigan, there are a couple of ways that you can receive compensation if you are injured as a result of a bicycle accident:

If a car or truck hit you and caused your injuries, as you described in your question, you can file a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim, also known as a No-Fault claim. This is a first-party claim between you – the bicycle accident victim – and your auto insurance company. Even if you did not have automobile insurance in your household, you are still entitled to PIP benefits.

  • Your PIP claim will cover items such as your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses you incurred as a result of your injuries. PIP medical benefits are lifetime benefits and wage loss is paid for the first three years in Michigan.

You may also be able to file a lawsuit to collect damages from the driver, as long as it can be proved that:

  • The driver was at fault for the accident.
  • The driver’s negligent actions caused your injuries.
  • You suffered losses as a result of the bicycle accident and your injuries.
  • With both a PIP claim and an injury claim, there are other important considerations such as the statute of limitations (meaning how long after your injuries occurred that you are able to file a claim) that have to be considered.

If you or a family member has been injured in a bicycle accident, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced Port Huron bike injury lawyer to make sure your rights are protected. For a no-charge consultation with one of the attorneys at Winston & Damman, please contact our office at 810-966-WINS (9467). We’ll listen to the facts about your accident, let you know your options and help you get through this difficult time.

Disability FAQ

IT HAS BEEN A FEW MONTHS SINCE I BECAME DISABLED AND COULD NOT WORK. I FILED AN INSURANCE CLAIM AND HAVE BEEN RECEIVING ERISA BENEFITS. NOW, I’VE RECEIVED A QUESTIONNAIRE FOR MY MICHIGAN ERISA CLAIM. WHAT IS THIS AND HOW SHOULD I FILL IT OUT?

Your employer or you were smart to purchase insurance to cover you in case of a disability. Now that you are disabled and in need of the insurance, it is great to hear that you were able to receive the benefits you needed.

When you file an ERISA claim in Michigan, you will have something called a transition date. This transition date is intended to determine whether you still need disability benefits from your insurance, or if you may be able to return to work. As your transition date approaches, you will most likely receive a questionnaire for your Michigan ERISA claim. The way you fill out this questionnaire is critical to your ability to continue receiving the benefits you need.

The insurance companies use your answers to try to make a case to terminate your benefits. The answers you provide in this questionnaire are critical. Here’s what you can do to stay protected.

  • Be honest but cautious with your answers. You should always be completely honest in how you answer the questions provided to you. However, be cautious of how your responses may be taken out of context.
  • Provide as much documentation as possible. It is a good idea to show the insurance company that you have kept up with all required treatments, taken your prescriptions, and done what you could to get your life and body back to normal. This way, they cannot fault you for not trying to recover from an accident or disability and take away your benefits.
  • Contact a lawyer. Filling out your questionnaire with a skilled Michigan ERISA lawyer can be enormously beneficial. Contact us to learn how we can help you maximize your chances at continuing to receive the benefits you need.

We are available to help you with this critical part of your ERISA claim. Contact us at 810-966-WINS (9467)  today to learn more about why working with a Michigan disability lawyer is so important to helping you keep your benefits.

Dog Bites FAQ

MY CHILD WAS BIT IN A THUMB MICHIGAN DOG ATTACK AFTER HE ALLEGEDLY PROVOKED A NEIGHBOR DOG. IS THE DOG OWNER RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING FOR MY CHILD’S INJURIES?

Unfortunately many innocent children fall victim to dog bites because of their playful and curious nature. In Michigan, it is the responsibility of the dog owner to secure a dog that may be aggressive toward people and other animals. However, many homeowners are naïve about the dangers dogs can pose. When your child is bit in a Thumb Michigan dog attack, it is not always easy to get the appropriate compensation from the dog owner responsible for the pet that hurt your child.

If a young child provoked the dog, the homeowner may still be responsible for the injuries. This is because many young children are not considered to be capable of knowingly provoking a dog. They are not required to understand that petting, hugging, or attempting to play with an unfamiliar dog is dangerous. For this reason, pet owners have a strict duty to take reasonable precautions against their dog attacking an unfamiliar child.

When your child is bitten in a Thumb Michigan dog attack, the homeowners’ insurance may cover the cost of your child’s injuries. You may be entitled to receive compensation for a variety of categories of costs, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Physical therapy
  • Emotional trauma

Filing a claim in these situations can be very confusing and overwhelming. At Winston & Damman, we understand where to turn to receive compensation for these dangerous dog attacks. Contact a dog bite lawyer in Thumb Michigan to learn more about how to get your child the help they need and deserve after a serious attack.