April 16, 2014

Hospital Bills after a Car Accident Arguments

Our Firm sponsored a legal writing contest on the topic of the disparity in medical bills for the uninsured vs. the insured. Here is the winning entry following the question.

Your client is a 25 year old female waitress without health insurance. She falls off of her motorcycle while riding and breaks her femur and has a steel rod and screws inserted to stabilize the fracture. She spends 2 weeks in the hospital and is presented with a $100,000 bill by the hospital. She cannot afford to pay the bill and is being sued by the hospital.

The key issue is reasonableness of the medical bill in light of the fact that the hospital is under a fee services contract with three major health insurers and the fee contract specifies that the hospital agrees to only charge $35,000 to heath insured consumers for the same procedure your client had. What legal arguments can you make on your clients behalf to reduce the amount of the debt your client owes? Bankruptcy is not an option.

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March 18, 2014

Uber Car Accident Insurance

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on the legal exposure that companies like Uber and Lyft might face for car accidents. One of the grey areas was when is an Uber X driver "under dispatch" and therefore when does the commercial policy apply and when does the driver's personal coverage apply.

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March 15, 2014

Causation and the Butterfly Effect; How Far Will the Law Stretch?

I had a friend ask the other day about a tragic case involving a person who was badly hurt in a car accident. The plaintiff some months later overdosed on their medication that had been prescribed for the injury. The lawyer wanted to know if they could sue for the death of the Plaintiff as related to the car accident.

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March 7, 2014

How Long Do Car Accident Cases Take to Settle?

The best way to answer that is probably to show you the letter we give to our customers after they sign up. These time estimates are pretty solid for an average car accident case:

I want to personally thank you for choosing the Simon Law Firm to represent you in this case. We are a family business and look forward to taking care of you as our own.

I know that the idea of hiring a lawyer and pursuing a claim is daunting. The process can be frustratingly slow and at times it will feel like nothing is happening. I assure you it is.
In addition to keeping our number of cases low to better serve you, we also employ state of the art customer service tracking software. You are always welcome to check in with us if you are curious about your case status, but do not be concerned if several weeks go by without hearing anything. This is very normal.

The attached page gives you a general timeline of the life cycle of your case and what to expect. Please look it over and refer to it as your case proceeds.

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February 25, 2014

Injury Attorney's Fees and What is Fair

It is common knowledge that in Georgia, the average injury lawyer charges 1/3 of the gross of an injury settlement if the case is resolved before a lawsuit has to be filed and 40% if it has to be filed. It is important to know that the 40% typically kicks in upon the filing of the suit, not when trial actually starts.

These numbers can be shocking to some people. Why is my lawyer getting almost half of my case value and if medical bills or health insurance needs to be repaid, why is the client getting less than the lawyer sometimes? These are fair questions and a recent argument before the Georgia Supreme Court has some answers for the consumer.

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February 17, 2014

A Parent Can Lose the Right to Child's Wrongful Death Claim

    Under OCGA §§ 19-7-1(c) and 51-4-4, when a child dies unmarried and without children, then the parents normally have the right to bring the wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. If the parents are divorced they both have an equal right to bring the claim and must share in the proceeds. Note that if one of the parents was the cause of the death, that parent would logically be barred from bringing the claim. See Belluso v. Tant, 258 Ga.App. 453.

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January 24, 2014

Jury Selection in Georgia

After trying a Federal jury trial last week and a Fulton County State Court case this week, I thought I would touch on the subject of jury composition and voir dire.

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January 17, 2014

Trying a Trucking Case in Federal Court this Week

Friday was the last day of a 5 day jury trial our firm has tried alongside some other law firms we frequently work with. To put it simply, the trial did not go smoothly. This case brings home a point that is often debated among trial lawyers. When should a case be settled rather than tried?

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January 4, 2014

Independent Contractor or Employee and Can Workers Compensation Apply?

Georgia business often tell their employees that they are independent contractors to get around overtime issues and to avoid dealing with workers compensation.Are you an independent contractor just because your boss pays you with a 1099 and does not hold out taxes. What about the fact that you signed a independent contractor agreement?

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January 1, 2014

Abraham Lincoln Tried Personal Injury Cases and Was Wiser than Me

Abraham Lincoln injury attorney

Abraham Lincoln was a trial lawyer and he tried personal injury cases, much the same as we do now, although I would wager he was a good bit more eloquent. Lincoln is more legend than fact for most people these days. His legacy is overshadowed by the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, and rightfully so. It is easy to forget that he was an active trial lawyer who handled personal injury cases in addition to his major practice areas of debt collection and real estate law.

The Project's research shows that Lincoln filed five cases involving injuries on stagecoaches and railroads, two dealing with trip and falls and two medical malpractice cases. The case of McCready v. City of Alton, Illinois is particularly interesting and the link is here. Lincoln sued on behalf of a woman injured when she fell in a pothole on a badly maintained sidewalk. He sought $20,000 in damages but only ended up with a verdict for $300 for the medical bills. Apparently the City was allowed to argue that they did not have enough money to fix the sidewalk. Thankfully times have changed for plaintiffs.
According to "The Lincoln Legal Papers Project" (supported by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum), Lincoln filed at least nine personal injury cases during his career. Keep in mind that in the mid 1800's, injury cases were extremely rare, so the number is significant.

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December 29, 2013

Ethan Couch and Father's Company Sued for Wrongful Death

wrongful death Ethan Couch Many have by now heard of the unsettling news of a Texas judge who chose to only sentence 16 year old Ethan Couch to probation after he drove drunk and killed 4 people, paralyzed another and hurt still more. The Texas Attorney General has announced there is nothing they can do to correct the sentence which could have sent Couch away for a 20 year sentence with at least 2 years before parole eligibility. The families of the victims have now filed wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits, seeking to have the civil justice system strip the family of the wealth to provide punishment where the criminal system failed.

Although the sentence would be considered light in any courtroom given that in Georgia, DUI manslaughter defendants regularly get 3-8 years in jail, the source of much of the outcry is the defense strategy. The Defendant is wealthy and hired a psychologist to present a defense based on "affluenza." This is a conjured condition not found in any medical text that argues that the boy's parents so neglected him that he should not be as criminally culpable as any other teen. Many in the public suspect that had the teen been poor, he would be behind bars.

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December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to Friends, Family and Clients!

Stay safe and warm this holiday season!