ASK A LAWYER
MYVEGAS Magazine is proud to bring you an all new special feature section, where each issue we ask readers to submit questions to our Top Lawyers for their opinions and input on questions you want answered.
Michael Becker of Las Vegas Defense Group
Q: My boyfriend and I were arguing, and I called 911 and lied that he hit me. The police arrested him, and his arraignment for battery domestic violence is next month. We’ve since made up, and I feel terrible for getting him in trouble. What can I do to get the charge dropped?
A: This is a very common scenario. Logically, you’d think that prosecutors would dismiss the charge if the alleged victim (you, in this case) simply fessed up that you fabricated the allegation. But prosecutors are skeptical, and they presume that victims have ulterior motives for recanting, such as bowing to pressure from the accused’s family. In short, confessing to the police that you lied probably will not coax the prosecutors into dropping the case, at least not initially.
But as time passes, the prosecutors may recognize that it will be hard for them to prove your boyfriend’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt without the alleged victim’s (your) cooperation, especially without witnesses or injuries. So it is possible that as the trial date approaches and no damning evidence emerges, the prosecutors may elect to dismiss the case or else offer a plea deal to a lesser charge.
As for you, you are taking a risk by telling the truth: The prosecutors may try to press charges against you for filing a false police report and for malicious prosecution. And if the case does go to trial and you ignore the subpoena to testify, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This does not always happen, though; in many cases prosecutors let recanting victims off the hook, but there’s no way to know for sure. It’s best to seek out an attorney for yourself to discuss the specific facts of your case and weigh your options.
Steve Dimopoulos of Dimopoulos Injury Law
Q: One of my breast implants ruptured due to a severe car accident. According to my attorney the at-fault driver has only $15,000 in bodily injury coverage so this is likely the maximum I may recover. Is this correct?
A: Nevada law requires a minimum “15/30/10” auto policy. “15” stands for a per person bodily injury limit of $15,000, “30” stands for a per incident bodily injury limit of $30,000 (in the event that more than one person claims injuries), and “10” stands for a property damage limit of $10,000 per incident (this limit applies to “non-injury” claims such as damage to a vehicle). In light of your injuries your bodily injury claim value likely exceeds $15,000. In theory you may recover more than the at-fault driver’s $15,000 per person limit by suing the defendant and pursuing their personal assets. Unfortunately defendants who carry state minimum 15/30/10 policies generally do not have any significant assets to pursue (people who have substantial assets generally purchase commensurate insurance coverage). This is why it is so important to purchase underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage (insurance that provides coverage in the event that you are injured by an inadequately insured motorist as is the case here) and/or medical payment (“medpay”) coverage (similar to UIM coverage).
Assuming there is no applicable UIM or medpay coverage, one creative approach would be to argue that your ruptured breast implant constitutes “damaged property” and to claim it under the at-fault driver’s $10,000 property damage limit accordingly. The goal would be to recover both the defendant’s full $15,000 per person bodily injury limit and the defendant’s entire $10,000 property damage limit for a total of $25,000.
Your question raises many more interesting issues than can be discussed here. Please consult with an attorney as I cannot provide legal advice based upon the limited facts presented.
Shannon R. Wilson of Hutchison & Steffen, LLC
Q: My son just recently turned 18 years old and his father is well over $20,000 in arrears in past due child support. My child support case has been being handled through the District Attorney’s office for quite some time and leading up to his 18th birthday, they were able to enforce him to start making his child support payments. Now that my son is 18, will the DA’s office continue to pursue the arrearages that he owes, or is there anything I need to do in order to collect the past due child support?
A: Once the Family Support Division of the District Attorney’s office has established an arrears order and has began collecting arrears, then they will continue to do so, even after the child has been emancipated, until the arrears are satisfied. As a side note, if the DA’s office was also collecting a spousal support obligation contemporaneously with the child support or arrears, it will continue to do so until the child support arrears are satisfied. Unfortunately, once all child support obligations cease, the DA will stop collecting spousal support. Yet another interesting question is whether you can obtain an arrears order after your child emancipates. The answer is highly fact dependent, but if you are in that situation, you should contact an attorney experienced in family law to advise you.
For a private consultation, contact Shannon R. Wilson of Hutchison & Steffen, LLC at (702) 385-2500.