October 31, 2011
While surfing the net, occasionally I come across interesting and sometimes fascinating information that does not have much to do with personal injury law but is worth the time to read and upon which to contemplate. As lawyers, we are to put into words our client’s case and sense of loss. We need to convey the core of the case in concise, clear and in words that describe the loss in its full impact to twelve strangers seated in the jury box.
George Graham Vest gave the following closing argument in 1870 in a lawsuit about a dog named Old Drum, which was shot by a neighbor. It has nothing to do with personal injury cases, but illustrates the point:
“Gentlemen of the jury, the best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter whom he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us — those whom we trust with our happiness and good name — may become traitors in their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world — the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous –is his dog.”
“Gentlemen of the jury, a man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow, and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.”
“If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.”
Each time I read this aloud, it makes me cry. This is what a truly amazing final closing argument should do–it is timeless and it goes to the core issues. Notice, George Vest did not even mention anything about damages–yet, it is all there.
October 14, 2011
In 2006 Medical malpractice insurers filed their financial statements, known as Annual Statements, with state insurance departments. The data contained in these Statements demonstrate that the premise on which the insurance industry based its “tort reform” campaign of the last several years–that malpractice claims payments have been increasing–is false.
Specifically, the 2006 Annual Statements reveal that the amount the leading malpractice insurers project they will pay out in claims in the future has declined; that the amount they have actually paid out in claims has declined; and that their surplus–the extra cushion they have accumulated over and above the amount they have set aside to pay claims in the future–has increased to an all time high. In addition, the 2006 Annual Statements reveal that notwithstanding the record surplus and profits of these carriers, they have generally declined to issue any dividends to their policyholders.
October 13, 2011
This is a typical case where the perpetrator’s insurance (in this case probably the administrators who have been hired by the self insured City to adjust this sort of claims) where there is clear liability, catastrophic injuries and a complete lack of interest by the liable party to take responsibility for their action and adjust the claim without further need for litigation.
Here, law in Indiana limits the amount the Indianapolis has to may to a maximum of $700,000. You would think that it is a open and shut case with a defendant who was drunk, causing a car accident in which a person has been so seriously injured that has medical bills of about $500,000. With the low limits, one would expect Indianapolis to have adjusted this claim long ago.
Deny, defend and delay has been the blue print of action by many in the Insurance Industry, because in the long run it pays. City of Chicago, not long ago, has opted for the policy of denying all claims even those that have merit because faced with a tough battle many attorneys and/or injured parties opt out of litigation and this, in turn, will result in lower liability costs for the City.
Perhaps Indianapolis has learned from the City of Chicago?
Two people who were severely injured when an Indianapolis police officer hit their motorcycle are suing the officer, the police department and the city for unspecified damages.
Kurt Weekly and Mary Mills, who married earlier this summer, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Marion County against former Officer David Bisard and the other defendants.
Weekly, who suffered a serious brain injury in the crash, said he incurred more than $500,000 in medical expenses and has lost wages as a result of the August 2010 crash that also killed a second motorcyclist, 30-year-old Eric Wells.
October 12, 2011
Here is something no one likes–having each and every word they say be written down, recorded with the possibility to be used against them at any time in the future. If people were robots with digital memory where with a press of button exact words could be heard over and over again, then personal injury depositions would not be anything to worry about–regrettably people are not robot and their memory is not perfect.
Technically, a deposition is part of the discovery process and it occurs once a lawsuit has been filed and the personal injury litigation process is on its way. It is there for the other side to ask questions and see what answers the deponent gives–all answers being recorded by a court reporter and all answers are under oath. This way, the other side gets to hear what the deponent has to say–although in the process, many defense counsels will attempt to shape the story and get the deponent to say things their way to support the defense narrative of a case.
A deposition is also used by the other side to evaluate the deponent and see how he or she will do in front of a jury. Whether they come across as believable? Honest? What are the chances that a jury will like them and therefore believe their story? These considerations are very important when comes time to talk settlement because one of the basis of the settlement is how a person will do in front of the jury and whether or not they will be believable.
Because depositions are part of the discovery process, they have to occur. Many times, it is a hassle to have to take off of work and tell your story again but failure to appear at your deposition may harm your case beyond repair. One sanction imposed by Courts for the failure to appear at a deposition is that you will be barred from presenting any evidence at your trial–which effectively kills any chance you may have to win your personal injury case. Without the ability to present evidence, there is no case to be presented!
Discovery depositions are an important part of your personal injury case and must be taken seriously. At Taradji Law Offices we are here to answer our clients questions regarding the discovery process including the personal injury deposition.
October 10, 2011
I found this post I had put up back in 2007 about a jurisdictional analysis of the value of personal injury cases and find it still relevant.
Although this data is a little dated (1994-2000), I thought it was interesting for lawyers in different jurisdictions to compare verdicts:
New York ……….. $275,000
South Dakota ….. $120,913
Minnesota ………. $111,488
New Jersey …….. $104,750
Pennsylvania …… $100,000
Louisiana ……….. $ 95,000
Georgia ………….. $ 12,000
Oklahoma ………. $ 10,282
Tennessee ……… $ 10,891
Arkansas ……….. $ 10,000
North Carolina …. $ 10,000
South Carolina ….$ 10,000
National overall … $ 45,000
This data is arguably misleading because to the varying thresholds to get to a jury trial in a particular jurisdiction. If a jurisdiction allows, or even requires, jury trials for cases where the plaintiff’s lawyer is seeking, for example, over $10,000, the awards are going to be a lot lower.
In Maryland, for example, where the average verdict in personal injuries cases is around $12,000, many small claim type personal injury cases find their way to Maryland juries. This is because defense lawyers in personal injury cases in Maryland have the ability to remove a case to the Circuit Court from the District Court (if the plaintiff seeks more than $10,000 but less than $25,000). Defense lawyers often do primarily to increase the burden on Maryland personal injury lawyers in jurisdictions where juries are less favorable (counties other than Baltimore and Prince George’s). Still, I think the data is interesting because it gives personal injury attorneys some idea of the jurisdictional differences.