In early 2012, my wife was driving and was involved in a serious car accident. The police report said that she had run a red light in my SUV, and struck a sedan with two people inside. Both were injured, and the passenger was seriously injured, though later recovered. Witnesses at the scene initially said that my wife had a green light, then upon speaking with police, said they were not sure. My wife maintains to this day that the light was green for her.
There were no mitigating factors in the accident. No alcohol, distractions such as cell phone use, and it was a perfectly bright sunny day. And my wife was driving below the speed limit. The driver and passenger in the other car (that my wife said actually did run the red light) were 90 and 88 years old, respectively. This was a tragic accident, regardless of who was to blame. However, the police investigators wanted to charge my wife with a serious crime, because of the age of the people in the sedan. The police were abrasive to her and to I. And they impounded our vehicle, telling us they would keep it for up to a year and a half, citing that “elderly people can often die of complications from an accident more than a year later”, and they would want to keep the vehicle as evidence in order to charge her with Vehicular Homicide at a later date. And the police demanded that they interview my wife immediately and without representation.
We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. This seemed like she was being treated like a deliberate and calculating criminal, not someone accused of causing a car accident without any contributing factors whatsoever.
I called Benjamin Klein, at Cohen, Bradshaw, Rothstein and Klein the next day. The officer who impounded the vehicle (and told me he was keeping it for up to a year and a half) and was extremely rude to us at first actually called me just hours later and apologized, then instructed me to pick up the car at my convenience. If he hadn’t, we would not have been able to make an insurance claim, and would not have been able to get another car (it was a total loss), and indeed would have ended up with ruined credit as well.
The case was finished in court. My wife was never charged with a serious crime, only traffic infractions. Mr. Klein turned the focus of the case from a serious felony charge that could have resulted in my wife going to prison, into a traffic case. We paid a fine.
Fact is, we were way more concerned with the other drivers health to care about a fine. Our feeling was that it mattered less who ran the light, given nobody was deliberately negligent, and more that everyone survived.
The security of knowing that you have a lawyer that will correct a wrong done to you, immediately, is irreplaceable. This incident showed us that anyone can become an accused criminal. And thank God that we knew someone like Benjamin to set things right.