Crime Victims

Domestic Violence Survivors Can Fight Back By Suing the Abuser

Most people think that involving the police and the district attorney’s office are the only way to deal with domestic violence incidents. That is typically the case, but in some instances the civil justice system can assist the domestic violence survivor in obtaining compensation for the physical and emotional abuse caused by the defendant, while also punishing the defendant by obtaining punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages to punish the defendant.

The civil justice process can be an important tool to truly punish an abuser who receives a lenient sentence in criminal court. Unlike a criminal trial, the Jury in a civil trial decides if they are going to punish the offender by awarding the domestic violence survivor punitive damages. The Jury gets to speak for the community in deciding the reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct and punishing the defendant by awarding the survivor punitive damages. This may result in the Jury punishing the defendant by awarding hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. The civil justice system may also hold others accountable for the abuse if they enabled it or permitted it to happen. (Click Here to Read New York Times Article Regarding Wealthy Lake Oswego Abuser and Morgan Stanely’s knowledge of it)

These are very nuanced cases with many obstacles. However, at times they are appropriate and should be brought. If you are a domestic violence survivor and you would like to bring a civil case against your abuser call Ross Law PDX at 503.224.1658. We are happy to provide crime victims and survivors a free case evaluation to discuss their options and the viability of bringing a civil lawsuit to seek compensation and punish the defendant.

PLEASE CALL THE POLICE IF YOU ARE IN DANGER! Please note as a civil law firm Ross Law cannot prosecute domestic violence abusers in criminal court. If you want to “press charges” or “send the abuser to jail” you need to call law enforcement or the District Attorney’s office. If you have questions regarding difference between a civil case and a criminal case, please read here. Please note that results may vary and this post may be considered attorney advertising.

Portland Uber Driver Assaults Female Passenger

As previously noted, I have grave concerns about ride-share drivers not being properly vetted by Uber or Lyft. Over the past few years numerous people throughout the United States have been assaulted or sexually assaulted by a ride-share driver. It was not a matter of if this was going to occur in Portland, but it was a matter of when. Unfortunately, it did happen last week. Last week an Uber driver climbed in the back seat of his vehicle and then began to kiss and thrust his body against the lone female passenger. Thankfully the passenger was able to fight off the driver and push him off of her. This terrifying encounter should not have happened.

This type of encounter can be prevented with proper background investigations, training, and supervision of drivers. However, the ride-share industry pushes back on these requirements. They claim to perform back-ground checks, but the nature and extent of them is not entirely known. As a result, litigation often will arise out of these incidents in an effort to hold the ride-share companies accountable in hopes that they will be forced to use a more robust system to protect riders.

If you or someone you know has been assaulted, sexually assaulted, or raped by a ride-share driver (Uber or Lyft) please call Ross Law PDX at 503.224.1658 for your free case evaluation. Jeremiah Ross proudly represents crime victims and fights to hold all persons and entities accountable, and providing compensation to the victim.

Uber Fined for Allowing Felons and Disqualified Drivers to Drive Passengers

Uber has proven it is a convenient and reliable source of transportation.  However, safety has always been a concern.  Many Uber drivers are involved in traffic crashes because they are distracted by the passengers or their mobile device they rely on to drive for Uber.  Uber has also hired many drivers that have criminal histories that are a cause for concern. [Click here for the previous article] Last week Colorado fined Uber $8,900,000.00 for violating driver qualification laws.[Click here to read article].

The fines are a result of Uber hiring 57 drivers with criminal convictions that should have disqualified them from working.  Some of the questionable drivers had felony convictions that should have disqualified them.  Hiring drivers with felony convictions or other disqualifying theft related or assault convictions puts passengers at risk.  It also violated Colorado's laws, resulting in the fines.   

 Mr. Clown says, "Trust me!  I passed the background check."

Mr. Clown says, "Trust me!  I passed the background check."

Although the State of Oregon has yet to audit Uber.  Uber drivers have done some terrifying things here  here in Oregon.  There are instances of Uber drivers being involved in road rage, stalking, and assault in Oregon.  Allowing a convicted felon to act as an Uber driver may increase the likelihood that driver will be involved in illegal activity.  If a driver is involved in unlawful activity Uber should be held accountable for all of the victim's losses.

If you, or someone you know, are involved in an incident with an Uber or other rideshare driver please call Portland Oregon Attorney, Jeremiah Ross for your free case evaluation.  Call Ross Law PDX at 503.224.1658 to discuss how the Uber driver and Uber can be held accountable.  Please remember this post is for advertising purposes.   Also, this post does not create an attorney client relationship.

Oregon Court Decision Helps Crime Victims Recover Losses

Many crime victims do not realize they have a right to recover restitution for their out of pocket losses.   Oregon Law allows crime victims to recover "economic damages" that were a result of the criminal's activity.  ORS 137.106(1).  This typically means that crime victims and survivors can recover out of pocket losses that were a result of the criminal's behavior.  Economic damages are typically hospital bills, surgery bills, mental health bills, property damage bills, and past lost wages.  Economic damages are not things like embarrassment,  pain, suffering, and humiliation.

andrew-branch-106863.jpg

There are different avenues for victims and survivors to recover damages for pain, suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, etc.  However these types of damages are not part of criminal restitution, and most victims and survivors will have to use the civil court to obtain full compensation for their harms and losses.  

However, the term "economic damages" is often disputed by defendants that do not want to pay victims for all of the harms and losses they cause.   Recently Oregon's Supreme Court clarified victim restitution issues with their ruling of State v. Ramos.  The Court noted that a defendant is responsible for all economic damages that are a result of the criminal activity.    The court addressed whether or not 1) that damages are limited to harms that result from reasonably foreseeable risks and 2) whether or not attorney fees and litigation costs are generally not recoverable as restitution unless authorized by statute or contract.  

The Ramos Court concluded,   "reasonable foreseeability is a limiting concept that applies to an award of economic damages under ORS 137.106."  What this means in layman's terms is that the economic damages must "result from" a defendant's criminal activity in the "but for" sense and must be a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant's criminal activities.  The court also determined that in some cases that a victim or survivor's attorney fees and litigation costs may be recovered as part of criminal restitution.   This case is a good tool for prosecutors to assist victims and survivors obtaining restitution. 

If you or someone you know have are a crime victim and have medical bills, mental health bills, property bills, or have suffered harms, losses, embarrassment, humiliation, pain, or suffering as a result of another's conduct, please call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  Please remember the law is constantly changing.  Call a lawyer or ROSS LAW instead of relying solely on this post or the law cited in this post.

 

Ross Law Has Been Busy Getting Results For Clients....

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been very busy.   Two weeks ago we were in a Jury Trial on a motor vehicle crash case.  My client suffered soft tissue injuries. The insurance company made a low offer.  The Jury sided with my client.  The Jury's verdict was more than the defendant's insurance company's best offer by roughly 1/3.  This was a very good result. 

jordan-whitfield-112404.jpg

Later that week we resolved a consumer case involving a newer luxury automobile.  My client had taken his vehicle to an authorized dealership for an inspection because it wasn't running right.  The dealer missed a diagnosis and did not notice the oil needed to be changed.  The engine oil sludged up and the engine seized a couple of days after the vehicle was released from the dealer.  We later learned the vehicle's motor had a design issue and the manufacturer had changed the type of oil to put in the vehicle.    We began the process of arbitration.  Then the major local car dealership and a luxury auto manufacturer asked us to engage in mediation.  The dealer agreed to pay to have our dispute mediated.   Prior to mediation the dealership and manufacturer refused to make any offer.  However, the case settled even though we were prepared to arbitrate the case.  My client received money for the engine replacement plus an amount for costs and attorney fees. 

Last week, I was preparing for a trial at the end of the month for an animal bite case.   This case involved a cat bite.  Yes, that is correct, a domestic cat bit my client's hand.  The bite became infected and my client was hospitalized.  Prior to filing the case and preparing for trial, the insurance company refused to make an offer despite tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills.  However, after I worked the case up we were able to settle the case for a substantial sum of money.   My client was thrilled with the result. 

If you or someone you know have any legal issues, call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.  We are happy to discuss your personal injury case, consumer case, or crime victim case.  Please remember that results may vary. Also please note, this is attorney advertisement material.

How Do You Figure Out if Your Child's Day-Care or Pre-School is Safe?

Getting your kids in Daycare can be an overwhelming en-devour.  Site visits, phone calls, interviews, and the always popular, "wait lists" are all new experiences for almost every new parent.  During this process every parent is concerned with one thing, Safety.  However, it is not always easy to determine if a place is safe for your kids.  Daycare providers are like other businesses in that they put their best foot forward in an effort to get your child enrolled and the tuition money.   So how do you determine if your kid's daycare or preschool is safe? Here are some tips:

  • Is the Daycare or Preschool Licensed by the State?  You should determine if the provider is licensed by the State of Oregon.   If not, that is a big red flag, and the provider maybe breaking the law by operating a unlicensed daycare.  Calling Office of Child Care - Central Office
    503-947-1400, 1-800-556-6616 may help you determine if the daycare or childcare provider is licensed.  In the alternative, you can simply ask the provider to see the license. 
  • Does the Daycare or Preschool have prior complaints?    The State of Oregon has an office that is dedicated to licensing and overseeing daycare facilities.  This office keeps a data-base that allows the public to search for violations committed by Oregon preschools, daycare, and licensed child care providers.   The data base is not too user friendly, and doesn't provide details regarding the complaints but it provides the rules or laws that were violated and the date of the violations.   Click here to learn if the State of Oregon has a public record of a complaint against a childcare provider, daycare, or preschool.  Another place to look for prior complaints is the Better Business Bureau.  Click here for a link to the Better Business Bureau. 
  • What should you Look For When Visiting a Prospective DayCare or Preschool?  If you are a new parent it is overwhelming trying to figure out all of the potential dangerous surrounding your child.   However, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has authored checklists to assist parents in determining if their child's daycare is safe..  
    • If you are looking to determine if your INFANT's childcare provider is safe Click Here.
    • If you are looking to determine if your TODDLER's childcare provider is safe Click Here.
    • If you are looking to determine if your PRESCHOOLER's childcare provider is safe Click Here.

If your child, or someone you know, has been injured at a daycare or by a childcare provider call Portland Personal Injury Attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658. Call Ross Law for your free case evaluation.  Ross Law takes most personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis.  LEGAL STUFF,  PLEASE READ:  Please note the tips above are not an exhaustive list and you must do your own due intelligence in trying to determine if a daycare provider is a good fit for your child. Also, Ross Law does not have a relationship or affiliation with the agencies or entities noted in this article.  Please contact them directly if you have any questions or concerns about their web-site(s) or, policies, or procedures. 

Victim of a Crime? Know Your Rights...

The Criminal Justice system can be a confusing, intimidating, and scary place for crime victims. Many victims do not know what is expected from them, who the lawyers are that are involved, and more importantly they don't know their rights.  Many times the District Attorney's office does their best to keep victims involved in the case, but DA's and victim advocates are often overworked and simply do not have the time or resources to ensure every victim's rights are understood and honored. This post is meant to provide you some information to assist you in asserting your rights.   Below is a list of things you should know if you were a crime victim:

Who Is The District Attorney:  The District Attorney is an attorney that represents the State of Oregon in criminal matters.  They are also called prosecutors, DAs, or DDAs.  Basically each county has a District Attorney (DA).  That person has an office that employs deputy DA's to hold people responsible that have been accused of breaking the law.  

Is the DA the Victim's Attorney:  No, the DA represents the State of Oregon.  The victim is a citizen of the State and has unique rights under the law, but the DA is not the victim's lawyer.  If you believe you the defendant should be responsible for paying for your harms and losses you should seek a "civil lawyer" such as myself to represent you.  The criminal justice system and the Civil Justice System are not the same.  For example, the District Attorney cannot obtain damages for emotional harm, but a civil lawyer can. For more information click here.

Who are "Victim Advocates:"   District Attorneys offices have persons that are victims and advocates that do their best to ensure victims rights are honored.  In Multnomah County the DA has a Victim Assistance Program or VAP.  To learn more click here.

What are Oregon Crime Victim's Rights:  Oregon Victims have numerous rights.  I have posted some, but not all, of the rights below.   Please remember the law is constantly changing and it is best to consult with an attorney or the District Attorney to ensure the law has not changed.  Do not rely solely on this post.  With that said, see the rights below:

  1. Crime Victims Must Be Informed of Their Rights:  A “law enforcement agency” shall notify a crime victim about his or her rights as soon as reasonably practicable. Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(g); ORS 147.417(1). 
  2. If You Request, Then You Must Be Informed of All Critical Stages of the Proceedings: A crime victim has, upon specific request, the right to be informed in advance of any critical stage of the proceedings held in open court when the defendant or alleged youth offender will be present and to be present at any such stage of the proceedings. Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(a) 
  3. The DA Must Account for Your Schedule when Setting a Trial Date: “When resetting any trial date or setting any court hearing requiring the presence of the victim, the court shall take the victim into consideration. The court shall inquire of the district attorney as to whether the victim has been informed of the prospective date and whether that date is convenient for the victim.” ORS 136.145
  4. If Requested, You Have a Right to Be informed if The Defendant's Probation May be Revoked: Right to Notice of Probation Violation/Revocation Hearings Upon request, a crime victim has the right “to be notified of any hearing before the court that may result in the revocation of the defendant’s probation for a felony or person Class A misdemeanor.” ORS 137.545(11). 
  5. You Have a Right to Be Present at Critical-Stage Proceedings if Requested: A crime victim has, upon specific request, the right to be present at any critical stage of the proceedings held in open court when the defendant or alleged youth offender will be present and to be present at any such stage of the proceedings. Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(a).
  6. You Right to Have a Person with you (with some exceptions): The victim of a person crime who was at least 15 years old when the crime is committed, may select a personal representative to accompany the victim to phases of the investigation and prosecution of the crime except for grand jury proceedings and certain child-abuse assessments. ORS 147.425. 
  7. If English is Your Second Language You Have a Right to Court Appointed Interpreter “In any criminal proceeding, the court shall appoint a qualified interpreter and make available appropriate assistive communication devices whenever it is necessary to interpret the proceedings to a victim who is a person with a disability and who seeks to exercise in open court a right that is granted by Article I, section 42 or 43, of the Oregon Constitution, including the right to be present at a critical stage of the proceeding.” 
  8. You Have a Right to Be Heard at a Pretrial Release Hearings if Requested: Under the Oregon Constitution a crime victim has, upon specific request, the right to “be heard at the pretrial release hearing.” Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(a). 
  9. You Have a Right to Be Heard at Sentencing A crime victim has the constitutional right to be heard “at the sentencing or juvenile court delinquency disposition.” Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(a). Under statute, a crime victim has the right at sentencing “to reasonably
    express any views concerning the crime, the person responsible, the impact of the
    crime on the victim, and the need for restitution and compensatory fine.” ORS
    137.013. A trial court must inquire whether the victim wishes to be heard before
    imposing sentence. ORS 147.512(3). 
  10. You Have a Right to Be Heard at DUII Diversion Hearing: If a DUII offense involves damage to property of a person other than the defendant, the victim of the property damage has a right to be present and to be heard at any hearing on a petition for a diversion agreement. ORS 813.222(1). 
  11. You Have a Right to Consult with the DA in any Plea Negotiation involving a Violent Felony: A crime victim has the constitutional right “to be consulted, upon request, regarding plea negotiations involving any violent felony.” Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(f). In prosecutions involving violent felonies, a prosecutor must—if requested by the victim—make “reasonable efforts to consult the victim before making a plea offer and before entering into a final plea agreement.” ORS 147.512(2)(a).
  12. You Have a Right to a Speedy Disposition: By law, crime victims have the rights to “have the trial or adjudication, including the imposition and execution of the sentence or disposition, conducted with all practicable speed” and “to the prompt and final conclusion of the criminal or juvenile delinquency proceeding in any related appellate or post-judgment proceeding.” ORS 147.430(a)-(b); see also ORS 138.627(1)(a) (victims have the right to have their “schedule taken into account [by the trial court] in scheduling . . . post-conviction proceedings”).  T
  13. You Have a Right to Records of Proceedings: A crime victim has a statutory and constitutional right to a copy of the record of a criminal proceeding. See Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(e) (a crime victim has “[t]he right to have a copy of a transcript of any court proceeding in open court, if one is otherwise prepared”); ORS 147.419 (a crime victim may obtain a copy of a transcript or audio or videotape of criminal proceeding held in open court at the victim’s expense).
  14. You Have a Right to Information about the Defendant: Under the Oregon Constitution, a crime victim has “[t]he right, upon request, to obtain information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, criminal history and future release from physical custody of the criminal defendant or convicted criminal and equivalent information regarding the alleged youth offender or youth offender[.]” Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(b).
  15. You Have Right to Information about HIV or Other Communicable Diseases: A victim of a crime involving “the transmission of bodily fluids from one person to another” can request that defendant submit to “a test for HIV and any other communicable disease.” ORS 135.139(1).
  16. You Have a Right to Information about Emergency Contraception: A sexual assault victim has the right to “unbiased, medically and factually accurate written and oral information about emergency contraception” from the hospital providing the victim care. ORS 435.254(1). 
  17. Right to Information in DUII Proceedings Where You Were in a Crash with a DUII Driver:  In any prosecution arising from an automobile collision in which the defendant is alleged to have been DUII, the prosecuting attorney shall make available to a victim, upon request, reports and information disclosed to the defendant. ORS 135.857. That requirement applies to juvenile proceedings. ORS 419C.270 
  18. You Have a Right to Refuse to Speak or Communicate with Anyone Representing the Defendant: Under the Oregon Constitution, crime victims have “[t]he right to refuse an interview, deposition or other discovery request by the criminal defendant or other person acting on behalf of the criminal defendant provided, however, that nothing in this paragraph shall restrict any other constitutional right of the defendant to discovery against the state.” Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(c). Under statute, crime victims “may not be required to be interviewed or deposed by or give discovery to the defendant or the defendant’s attorney unless the victim consents.” ORS 135.970(3). A defense attorney must inform victims of the identity and capacity of persons contacting the victim on behalf of the defense and the victim’s right to have “a district attorney, assistant attorney general or other attorney or advocate present during any interview or other contact,” ORS 135.970(2). 
  19. If You Were Raped, You Have the Legal Protection to Prevent the Defense From Asking about Your Reputation or Opinion of Past Sexual Behavior. This is called the Rape-Shield Law. In a prosecution for rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration, or sexual abuse, or in a prosecution for an attempt to commit one of these crimes, the following evidence is not admissible: Reputation or opinion evidence of the past sexual behavior of an alleged victim; or reputation or opinion evidence presented for the purpose of showing that the manner of dress of an alleged victim incited the crime or indicated consent. In a prosecution for these crimes or attempt to commit one of these crimes, evidence of a victim’s past sexual behavior other than reputation or opinion evidence is also inadmissible unless admitted in accordance with the Oregon Evidence Code and is evidence that relates to the motive or bias of the alleged victim, is necessary to rebut or explain scientific, medical or testimonial evidence offered by the state, is necessary to establish the identity of the victim or is otherwise constitutionally required to be admitted. ORS 40.210. Oregon Evidence Code (OEC) Rule 412
  20. You Have a Right to Be Safe and Protected from the Defendant: Under the Oregon Constitution, a crime victim has “[t]he right to be reasonably protected from the criminal defendant or the convicted criminal throughout the criminal justice process” and “[t]he right to have decisions by the court regarding the pretrial release of a criminal defendant based upon the principle of reasonable protection of the victim and the public, as well as the likelihood that the criminal defendant will appear for trial.” Or. Const. art I, § 43(1). 
  21. The Court Must Order No Contact with the Victim at Pre-Trial Release Hearing: When a defendant is released pretrial, the trial court or releasing authority must include a condition that defendant have no contact with the victim. See ORS 135.970 (4)(a) 
  22. You Have a Right to Restitution (Money), but it is limited to out of pocket expenses: Under the Oregon Constitution, a crime victim has “[t]he right to receive prompt restitution from the criminal convicted criminal who caused the victim’s loss or injury.” Or Const, Art I, § 42(1)(d). Upon proof of “nature and amount of damages,” a victim is entitled to full restitution for “economic damages” caused by a defendant’s criminal conduct unless the victim consents to a lesser amount. ORS 137.106(1). Economic damages are: objectively verifiable monetary losses including but not limited to reasonable charges necessarily incurred for medical, hospital, nursing and rehabilitative services and other health care services, burial and memorial expenses, loss of income and past * * * impairment of earning capacity, reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for substitute domestic services, recurring loss to an estate, damage to reputation that is economically verifiable, reasonable and necessarily incurred costs due to loss of use of property and reasonable costs incurred for repair or for replacement of damaged property, whichever is less. ORS 137.103(2); ORS 31.710(2)(a). 
  23. You May Have a Right to a Compensatory Fine:  A court may order compensatory fines payable to a crime victim, which may be imposed in addition to statutory restitution, “as a penalty for the commission of a crime resulting in an injury for which the person injured by the act constituting the crime has a remedy by civil action[.]” ORS 137.101. This is a convoluted area of the law in which the statute arguably allows the judge to impose a fine and instead of the fine being paid to the State of Oregon the fine is paid directly to the Victim.  Their are nuances regarding how this is done, and a District Attorney or Civil Lawyer such as myself should be contacted.  Feel free to call me at 503.224.1658.
  24. The Crime Victim Compensation Fund May Pay for Medical Bills, Counseling, but it is limited: A crime victim may be eligible for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Account administered by the Department of Justice. See ORS 147.035 (discussing compensable losses). An emergency award granted “pending a final decision in [a compensation] claim” may be available. ORS 147.055. Oregon law specifically provides for compensation for HIV testing and counseling when a crime involves the transmission of bodily fluids, ORS 135.139(8), and for a sexual-assault medical assessment. ORS 147.395. 

The bottom line is if you are a crime victim you have rights.  You should assert them.  Too often defendant's rights appear to trump victim's rights.   That should not occur if you assert your rights and the District Attorney and the Court honors your rights.  If you have any questions about your rights, call me for a free crime victim consultation at 503.224.1658.   PLEASE REMEMBER THE LAW IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING AND THESE RIGHTS ALSO CHANGE.   Please consult with a lawyer or District Attorney to learn your actual rights.   This post, this blog, and this web-site may be considered attorney advertising.  

 

UBER SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE MOVES FORWARD

Many people like myself use Uber and Lyft to get home from a Holiday party or a night on the town.   However, Uber and Lyft passengers should remain vigilant.  Especially women traveling by themselves.  Another incident of a Uber driver sexually assaulting a passenger is in the news.  

In this recent case a Houston, Texas Uber driver picked up a woman who ended up falling asleep in the Uber driver's vehicle.  The  Uber driver then parked his car in a parking lot.  The woman awoke to the terrifying experience of the Uber driver fondling her as she was asleep.  The case is ongoing, so the details are scant.  The driver is contesting the allegations in court.  

Ride share programs are a great idea, but people must remain vigilant.  If you want some tips on protecting yourself when riding with Uber or Lyft then click HERE.   If you, or someone you know, have been assaulted, sexually assaulted, or raped by an Uber or Lyft driver, call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 for your free consultation.