On Law Talk, Attorney Steven Sabra, of Sabra and Aspden Law Offices of Somerset, talked on air about the Michael Brown Case in Ferguson, Missouri and the potential outcomes for the defendant, Officer Darren Wilson.

In Ferguson, MO an unarmed 18-year-old African American man, Michael Brown, was shot by a police officer, Officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury has convened for the last three months to decide what charges, if any, ought to be brought against Officer Wilson.

There are several potential outcomes that could be given from the jury. One could be that he knowingly caused the death of another person, which is the most serious charge against him, with a potential prison term of 10-30 years. They could also find that there was probable cause to charge him with voluntary manslaughter, which is different because it’s causing a death under the influence of a sudden passion arising from an adequate cause, with a lesser charge of a 5-15 year prison sentence. The grand jury could also say that there’s probable cause to charge the police officer with involuntary manslaughter in the first or second degree; first degree being if they believe he recklessly caused the victim’s death, which cannot exceed 7 years, and second degree being if he acted with criminal negligence to cause a death, which cannot exceed 4 years.

The officer could have also been justified by using self-defense, which asks the question: Did the officer have the right to use deadly force? In Missouri it is legal for a police officer to use deadly force when an officer reasonably believes that a person may otherwise endanger a life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay, which is what the jury is going to have to consider as well. What it really comes down to is if the grand jury believes the defendant has reasonable cause to have taken the victim’s life.

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What Determines a Catastrophic Accident?

A catastrophic accident is a serious accident that has resulted in a severe injury to the victim’s brain, spine, spinal cord, spinal fracture, or skull. These injuries to the victim are often times fatal but sometimes cause permanent severe functional paralysis. Catastrophic accidents can also result in head and neck trauma that does not result in permanent disability but still affects the victim’s quality of life.

Catastrophic accidents can occur from different forms. It can be caused as a result of an activity, such as playing a tough contact sport like football. It can either be from direct contact resulting in a fracture or from sudden systematic failure, like a cardiovascular condition, heat illness, or dehydration. Indirect fatalities from activity are most commonly caused by cardiovascular conditions.

Accidents deemed catastrophic can also be from a car crash, operating a faulty piece of machinery, such as a forklift on the job or the vehicle driven at the time of the accident, or any other unforeseen incident. If you have been in any sort of incident in the Fall River, MA area and want to determine if it was severe enough to be a catastrophic case, there are several things to determine:

If there was a fatality: Simply, if anyone was killed in the event, the incident is considered to be catastrophic.

If there were severe injuries: If the incident required the services of an ambulance to take victims away and it resulted in severe, debilitating injuries, such as brain injury, paralysis, multiple fractures, severe burns, and amputation, then the case will also be deemed catastrophic.

If there was a spinal cord injury or brain damage: If someone involved in the incident had gotten damage to his spinal cord and/or brain and as a result faces paralysis, then the case is considered catastrophic.

If there were burns: If someone experienced second or third degree burns due to the incident in question, then it will be a catastrophic accident as well.

If there was an injury to a minor: Regardless of how severe his or her injuries were as a result of an accident, if he or she is a minor, then it is considered catastrophic. The reason for this is because there’s a chance childhood development could be impaired from the incident.

If the driver was intoxicated: If the driver was inebriated while operating the vehicle at the scene of the accident, the case will also fit the criteria. This means that the person in question was acting in a way that is considered to be negligent.

If there was negligence: If the death or severe injuries of another person were due to the negligence of the defendant, the case will also be considered catastrophic. To determine if the defendant was acting negligent at the time of the accident, the jury will often consider asking themselves the question: Would a reasonable and cautious person have done the same thing as the defendant in the given situation? If, for instance, the victim was killed due to a car accident, most would say that the defendant was not acting the way a reasonable and cautious person would by getting behind the wheel and operating their vehicle. This is why almost all drunk driving defendants are found guilty and are forced to serve a hefty penalty for their negligence.

If the vehicle was impounded: If a vehicle involved in a car accident was towed to an impound lot, the case may be deemed catastrophic as well.

Either being in or having a loved one be the victim of a catastrophic accident can be a very grueling time in your life. Emotions can get the better of victims and their loved ones and sometimes you do not know what to do. It would be best for you to seek legal counsel for a thorough understanding of your legal situation.

For 35 years, Sabra and Aspden Law Offices have been serving cases in Fall River, Somerset, New Bedford, Swansea, and Assonet. They are the best catastrophic accident and wrongful death attorneys in Southern New England.