Personal Injury Tort Reform – High Premiums for High Profits

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.

No Basis for High Insurance Rates – pdf

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If you or a loved one has been a victim of personal injury in Chicago or the surrounding area, contact or call us at 312-252-5252 for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

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Personal Injury – Car Accident – Crash Victims File Personal Injury Law Suit

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.

via Bisard Crash Victims Sue Officer, IMPD, City – Indiana News Story – WRTV Indianapolis.

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Tips & Tricks – Personal Injury Discovery Deposition

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.

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If you or a loved one has been a victim of personal injury in Chicago or the surrounding area, contact or call us at 312-252-5252 for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

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Case Value – The Value of Personal Injury Cases: A Jurisdictional Comparision

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.

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Truth is Our Ally… It Just Needs To Get out There

September 28, 2011

The Insurance Industry has consistently either directly or through proxies such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce provided half truths and untruths about the reason(s) for high premiums for malpractice insurance. All this while studies show that neither lawsuits nor verdicts have influenced high premiums. Instead, it is the Insurance Industry’s greed that has lead to these high premiums for the doctors.

At a news conference this afternoon, the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers called on state Insurance Commissioner Jim Long to conduct a hearing into rates charged by Medical Mutual Insurance Co. of North Carolina, which insures about 6,300 doctors statewide.

“It appears to us that they have crossed the legal threshold for having an excessive rate,” said Dick Taylor, the academy’s CEO. The academy argues that excessive rates are barred by state law.

For more than five years, the trial lawyers have engaged in a campaign to convince the public — and doctors, too — that the insurance companies, not malpractice lawsuits, are behind the rising cost of malpractice insurance. But until now the group hadn’t questioned the legality of medical malpractice rates or asked the insurance commissioner to step in.

In 2007 the trial lawyers unveiled an analysis by Jay Angoff, a lawyer and former insurance commissioner in Missouri, of Medical Mutual’s financial condition and performance from 2001 to 2006. The study was based on data submitted to the state Department of Insurance.

Angoff said the amount of claims paid by Medical Mutual has been “very stable” from year to year “while premiums have gone way up.”

Read on… Lawyers Want Malpractice Rates Studies

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Tips & Tricks – How TO Choose A Personal Injury Attorney

September 26, 2011

After an injury either resulting from the negligent act of another person, or on a job injury, or resulting from a careless medical provider, the most important decision to make is deciding on who will represent your interests against the insurance companies who vehemently will protect their insured and their own pocket book.

There are many places to start–most local Bar Associations have a lawyer Referral Service. In Chicago, the Chicago Bar Association‘s Lawyer Referral Service is well known and well established. The way it works is that after having contacted the CBA they will put you in touch with an attorney practicing personal injury law. You then contact that attorney and find out whether the proposed attorney is a good fit to take on your case.

Other methods are looking for attorneys online. There are a plethora of online lawyer referral services. It is important that you do not get discouraged by the number of proposed attorneys in any given area. It takes a few hours of good research to find the attorney with whom you feel most comfortable and who has the experience and credentials to put you at ease and be assured that your case will be properly prosecuted.

In that process, it is important that you look at the attorney’s background, the list of his or her achievements and verdicts/settlement obtained in other similar cases–bearing in mind that legal cases are heavily fact oriented and so past result can never be indicated of future results, but they can provide a glimpse into the extent of the attorneys dedication to his work.

It is also important to personally interview the attorney. Ask all relevant questions, ask follow up questions so as to become comfortable with the attorney and the way he or she communicates wit you. These personal consultations are generally free and you do not have any obligation to sign anything at then end of that consultation if you are not convinced that the attorney you are talking to is not the One.

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If you or a loved one has been a victim of personal injury in Chicago or the surrounding area, contact or call us at 312-252-5252 for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

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Injured in an Car Accident – What Do I Do Now? Hire A Personal Injury Attorney

September 20, 2011

If you have had the misfortune to be involved in a car accident, and you do not believe the accident was your fault, then there are things that re recommended to take into account when you decide about what to do next.

First, assess whether you are injured. If you are in pain, and you were not in pain before the car accident, then most people would consider it reasonable to go to a medical provider and have yourself examined by a doctor to assess the seriousness of your injuries. It is important that you tell the doctors about all your personal injuries honestly and thoroughly. Everything from current personal injuries and possible previous medical conditions and other injuries that may have been made worse by the car accident is recommended to be mentioned to the doctor. It is important to have very clear record of your injuries and the condition of your health reflected into the medical records.

Second, document the event. Make sure a police report is made of the auto accident where the names of all involved is reflected, including any and all witnesses. Almost all insurance companies require that a police report be presented to them when an insurance claim for personal injuries or property damage is made.

You then need to decide whether you want to pursue the claim yourself or engage the services of a Chicago personal injury attorney to provide you with legal help in getting your claim adjusted. the Insurance Research Council (IRC), did a comprehensive study comparing the value of settlements people received for the same injury when they were represented by an attorney versus when they did not have a lawyer. The IRC is a division of the American Institute for CPCU and the Insurance Institute of America. It is funded by the big insurance companies.

The IRC determined that people who were represented by an attorney received almost three and one-half times more, even after the attorney’s fees were paid.

This followed on the 2003 IRC internal document [Auto Injury Insurance Claims: Countrywide Patterns in Treatment, Cost, and Compensation Malvern, PA: December 2003] to its member insurance companies. On page 112, the IRC’s data showed the vast majority of dollars paid out to bodily injury claims are paid out to claimants who retain attorneys. Injured people with representation (less than 1/2 of claimants) received 79% of all liability payouts.

Based on the Insurance Industry’s own research a person who has been involved in an incident where she has sustained personal injuries, stands to get a better compensation were she to hire a personal injury attorney/lawyer to work for her than otherwise try to do it herself and deal with the insurance adjuster’s shenanigans herself.

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Wrongful Death – Truck Accident – Woman Killed In Head-on Collision With Truck

September 15, 2011

Mary Lacy, 49, of Lynwood, was involved in a truck accident and died instantly Friday afternoon when her SUV was hit head-on by a semi truck on Illinois 394 just north of Glenwood-Dyer Road.

Her friends and family were planning on celebrating her birthday in coming days.

Lacy was traveling in the southbound lanes near Glenwood-Dyer Road in her Ford Explorer about 4:55 p.m. when the northbound truck suddenly veered across the grassy median and hit her SUV.

At this point it is not clear why the truck veered off road and collided with the SUV in the opposite lane of traffic.

May such truck accidents occur as the result of operator error resulting from fatigue, drug and alcohol abuse, illnesses and other such reasons. Or, they can be the result of equipment failure.

Wrongful death events resulting from truck accidents occur in a split second and that split second changes many lives: the direct victim of the truck accident, spouses, children, friends and all those who knew the victim.

All who are concerned will have to wait for the result of the ensuing investigation to find out the reason for this tragic event and whether or not it was one that could have been avoided.

via Lynwood woman killed in crash would have celebrated birthday – Chicago Sun-Times.

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