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Shocking Mistrial in Westminster Distracted Driving Case

Almost exactly three years ago, Joren Nicolas plowed into the back of Deanna Mauer’s car on the 405 Freeway in Westminster. The accident was reported all over the news and polarized a community between grief and disbelief. Nicolas, for her part, was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence for the April 2011 fatal accident. However, Nicolas’ case goes to show how difficult it can be to prove negligence when it comes to an accident.

Nicolas’ prosecutors had almost three years to gather the necessary evidence to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that her gross negligence had directly caused the death of Deanna Mauer. It seemed to be an open and shut case. That is, until today’s jury decision.

While the prosecution went to great lengths to show that Nicolas was traveling at around 80 miles per hour upon impact, and therefore must have not been paying attention to the road ahead, they did not convince the jury.

Ultimately one juror deadlocked the whole jury with a single not guilty vote, and the case was declared a mistrial.

This case goes to show how important it is to obtain quality legal representation when facing a personal injury case. Further, while distracted drivers cause a large percentage of accidents across the US, it can be difficult to prove that a driver was distracted.

In Nicolas’ case, it seemed quite apparent that she experienced some form of visual distraction. As the jury showed, visual distraction can be hard to pinpoint as a momentary glance at the stereo, your phone, your reflection, or even the speedometer is hard to prove.

There are, however, other types of distractions that are even harder to prove. Take, for instance, cognitive distractions. How can you prove that someone was daydreaming? Or slightly tired? Sometimes the only way to prove this is if they reported that they were not paying attention in the police report.

Manual distractions, on the other hand, are slightly easier to prove. If there is half-eaten food, crumpled maps, compact disks, or, most obviously, a cell phone scattered across the floor at the time of the accident, then there is definitely a case to be made for distracted diving.

Whatever the case, if you believe that you have been in a car accident where the other driver was distracted manually, physically, or cognitively, then you should seek capable legal advice. At Cohn and Swartzon, we have a full-bodied understanding of personal injury law and know what it takes to prove that another driver was distracted. More importantly, we know how to show that it was this distraction that caused the accident. Our focus and top priority in each and every case we take on is to produce the best result possible and we are unyielding when it comes to pursuing this goal. Please do not hesitate to contact Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. to schedule a free consultation and we will be there for you in your time of need.



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