A woman has been sentenced to probation for her role in a car accident that hurt a child at a bus stop. Criminal cases like these can make it easier for victims to recover compensation in a personal injury case.
Driver Who Hit Child Pleads Guilty
The accident happened early in the morning on April 28 in Columbia, Missouri, at a bus stop near the entrance of a mobile home park. According to the police and other witnesses, a school bus was stopped and had its stop arm out. However, a car kept driving and hit a 10-year-old elementary school student.
The collision hit the child, but the vehicle did not roll over him. He was treated for minor injuries and the driver of the vehicle stayed on the scene to help.
The driver, a 19-year-old, initially claimed that the bus was not stopped and did not have its stop arm out. Last week, she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to stop for a school bus. She has been sentenced to two years of probation.
How Criminal Cases Can Help Personal Injury Claims
In this case, the young boy was not seriously hurt in the crash. However, if he was, the criminal case could have helped him and his family recover the compensation they needed from the accident.
To succeed in a personal injury case, victims and plaintiffs have to show four things:
- The defendant had a legal duty of care,
- The defendant breached that duty,
- The breach caused the victim’s injuries, and
- The victim was, in fact, hurt.
The first two elements are often the most difficult. They show that the defendant was supposed to behave a certain way, and didn’t.
When the defendant is convicted of a crime, that conviction is extremely strong evidence of these first two elements of a personal injury case. Here, the driver had a legal duty of care to drive safely. By pleading guilty to the charges, she is admitting that she breached that legal duty by not stopping for the school bus as it took on students.
Lesser-Known Guilty Pleas Rarely Make a Difference in Missouri
This is where lesser-known criminal pleas can make a difference in other states. Pleading guilty to a criminal offense, like failure to stop for a school bus, admits to the crime. A no contest plea, also known as a plea of nolo contendere, has the same effect of a guilty plea, but the defendant does not admit guilt. Instead, the defendant simply does not contest the criminal charges. Missouri, however, does not recognize pleas of no contest. They are simply entered as not guilty pleas.
There is also an Alford plea. A defendant maintains his or her innocence, but pleads guilty in order to secure a good plea deal rather than run the risk of a full conviction. Missouri recognizes Alford pleas as an option, but defendants do not have a right to have their Alford plea accepted by the judge. Many judges refuse to accept them in the state.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve St. Joseph
Missouri’s refusal to accept these other types of guilty pleas helps victims recover the compensation they need. The personal injury and car accident lawyers at the Smith Law Office can help. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.